To mark 10 years since the release of the “Design your universe” album, Epica have reissued the album with an extra bonus disc and are also doing a mini tour – just three dates in Europe (Germany, Netherlands, France) plus shows in Russia and Israel and then due to fan demand they later added some shows in The USA, Canada, Mexico and South America. Needless to say, with just three shows in Europe, fans in many countries had the choice – miss out or travel, so like many others I travelled to the Netherlands for their show in Utrecht.
Like the Paris show, this was a sold out gig and the venue was packed with fans not just from the Netherlands but from many other countries in Europe and as far afield as Japan and the USA.
Support on these dates came from another Dutch band, Blackbriar. I’ve seen them support Epica before on one of Epica’s dates on their short Dutch tour in 2017, but since then Blackbriar have released a second EP which they recorded with producer Joost van den Broek who seems to be the first choice for a lot of big Dutch bands including Epica and Ayreon and he’s also worked with Xandria, Powerwolf, After forever and many others. It’s a great EP and working with a producer of his calibre clearly paid off. Tonight’s set includes songs from both their EPs and they do an excellent job of getting the crowd warmed up. They’ve got some really good songs that stick in your mind and I think they’ve got plenty of potential – I look forward to them releasing a full length album.
Then it was time for Epica. Like the Design your universe album does, the show opened with the intro – Samadhi, before the band came on stage and launched into “Resign to surrender”, a song that until this tour hadn’t been played live since 2012. For the first few songs they then ran through the album songs in order, with this tour seeing “Our destiny” getting it’s first airing since the original album tour ten years ago. After “Kingdom of heaven” they then departed from the album to do two different songs – “Sensorium” and “In all conscience”. Interestingly as if playing songs live for the first time in many years wasn’t challenging enough, they also varied the setlist on the three shows at this point (The Oberhausen show featured “Quietus” instead of “Sensorium”, and the Paris show got “The French crusade” instead). After that it was back to the album and they played all the remaining album tracks except one (White waters). Ending with the final track on the album, the title track “Design your universe” they left the stage.
Before long the inevitable encore was signalled by the sound of Coen’s keyboards playing “Epica, Epica” before he got bored of that and included a bit of “We will rock you” before the band took to the stage for the encore. Three great songs took us to the end of the night.
Watching the band play I’m always impressed – the music is complex and challenging to play but they don’t just stand there and play – they always seem to be having a huge amount of fun and you can see it in how they keep interacting with each other on stage. Coen likes to keep the others on their toes and throws in a few extra bits that they’re forced to deal with without warning, he runs around, sends his keyboard racing around a track and generally has fun, and the others all have fun too. Seeing them having so much fun on stage while still playing perfectly shows not just how good they are as musicians, but also that after 17 years as a band, they’re still loving every minute of things and that enthusiasm comes across to the fans and helps motivate them.
This really was a fantastic show – the band in great form and the crowd really enjoying it too, resulting in a great atmosphere.
Samadhi (intro tape)
Resign to Surrender
Martyr of the Free Word
Kingdom of Heaven
In All Conscience
The Price of Freedom
Burn to a Cinder
Tides of Time
Deconstruct / Semblance of Liberty
Cry for the Moon
Design Your Universe
Beyond the Matrix
Consign to Oblivion