Friday the 13th of November is the date Paradise Lost chose to end their extensive European tour in Nottingham’s Rock City. Braving the fierce winds outside the venue a small queue of stalwart fans lined the side of the building chatting eagerly while seeking shelter where they could.
Rock City is a large venue and as the support band, Lucifer, took to the stage the number of people at the barrier was not yet enough to fill the width of the stage, and certainly not ready to be called a crowd. Describing themselves as ‘heavy doom rock’ the opening couple of songs from Lucifer were leaning much more towards the doom end. Powerfully dark riffs backing the strong yet haunting vocals of frontwoman Johanna Sadonis, whose dancing is every bit as mysterious and dramatic as her vocals. By the end of song three the numbers along the barrier were growing and the crowd reaction getting more enthusiastic.
About half way through the forty minute set Johanna took time out to introduce the band and throw in a couple of the pranks played on them by the crew since it was the last show. This final icebreaker was all that was needed and for the rest of the set the mood felt lifted and the crowd well and truly warmed up. Closing the set with Izrael, a song about the angel of death, was a great choice. Sticking to the core heavy doom sound but with some serious bass groove and funky riffs it was the track that would sway anyone still unsure about Lucifer. The most telling success of them as a support act was the simple and disappointing fact that they had run out of CD’s at the merch stand!
During the quick changeover the crowd has swollen significantly and while the venue was still well under capacity there was an expectant air as the lights went down and, accompanied by a lot of smoke, the band member of Paradise Lost took to the stage one by one. Finally Nick Holmes strode out to a wall of cheers from the crowd and with little more than an appreciative nod launched into the opening lines of ‘No Hope In Sight’ from the 2015 album ‘The Plague Within. The crowd reaction as they followed straight up by ‘Widow’ from the 1993 album ‘Icon’ was confirmation that only a mixture of the old and the new would do – and that is exactly what Paradise Lost delivered throughout their ninety minute set.
Mixing the songs from the new album their tour was supporting with the best of their back catalogue guaranteed them a good reception from the fans, but even then some tracks really stand out in the response. ‘Erased’ was the first song that got everyone bouncing and punching the air with its synth laden intro and later in the set Enchantment got everyone singing along to the point where Holmes could back off his vocals and let the fans to the work. The sound quality tonight was top notch, the heavy bass could be felt through the floor but retained clarity without any distortion, the kick drum punching in the chest like a heavyweight. Crisp lead and rhythm guitars cut through the bass with precision, while still leaving enough room for the mixed growling and melodic vocals to be heard. Hats off to the sound engineer for making it work so well.
As the set drew on Nick Holmes started to really loosen up and talk to the crowd, making note of it being their last show of a seven week tour. In his words he said ‘Happy to share it with you, I’m fucked!’ but, with the battle weariness of such a relentless tour schedule, there comes something great. The set was slick, tight, not a note out of place. The band were digging deep and gave it everything for this last show and this came across in the raw energy from the stage during the later songs and the encore.
And what an Encore. ‘Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us’ was dedicated to Phil Taylor who passed away earlier in the week, which received heartfelt applause during the intro. ‘Eternity of Lies’ was another dedication, this time to Lucifer who have been supporting them for the entire tour. Holmes had the crowd clapping along to this one before he would start singing. Ending the show on ‘Say Just Words’ could not have been a better choice, the entire room singing, the pit bouncing, the energy was dialled right up to the very last note. A fitting end the last line of the song was changed to ‘Say goodnight to me’ signifying the show was over, the cheers carrying on until well after the lights come up.
The 13th November 2015 is a date that music lovers and concert goers worldwide will remember for years to come. Many will remember exactly where they were on this night, and those in Rock City will remember a show that encapsulates all that makes us go to concerts alongside thoughts of the attacks in Paris. A fitting memory to have in the face of such tragedy, we will remember them.
No Hope in Sight
Praise Lamented Shade
Victim of the Past
Flesh from Bone
Beneath Broken Earth
As I Die
Return to the Sun
Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us
An Eternity of Lies
Say Just Words