Within Temptation & Delain – Academy, Birmingham – 16th April 2014

The queue outside stretching round the block showed that tonight’s gig was either sold out or pretty damn close, and it’s not surprising really – tonight’s lineup sees Within Temptation paired with the best support they could have chosen – Delain.

Delain_CZ2J1039Delain have been rising in popularity rapidly in the last few years, so when they took the stage in front of a large crowd, the cheers were loud.  The band wasted no time in getting the crowd warmed up, kicking off with “Go Away” from their second album, April Rain before moving on to a track from “We are the others”, the excellent “Get the devil out of me”.  The crowd were loving every minute of it, and the band looked to be having just as good a time on stage.  Bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije and Guitarist Timo Somers were headbanging furiously as they played and regularly swapped places wtih each other.  Keyboard player (and founder of Delain) Martijn Westerholt towered over the others from his raised platform at the back of the stage.  Drummer Sander Zoer was busy laying down a solid driving drum beat, and Charlotte Wessels prowled the stage as she sang, and in the gaps between vocal parts headbanged away too.

One bit that was nice was that Delain got a great sound and good lighting – I’ve seen so many support bands at this venue relegated to poor lighting and a reduced volume just so the headliner looks better, so to see Delain given a good setup was refreshing, and shows Within Temptation don’t need to stoop to those sort of tactics to impress.

With a new album just out (The human contradiction) then a couple of tracks from it were included in tonight’s set – “Army of dolls”, “Stardust” and these went down very well.  One song that got even louder cheers than the other tracks when announced was “The Gathering”, but the song that really got the best reaction was the song they chose to close their set with – their tribute to Sophie Lancaster, “We are the others”.
Delain tonight got a better reception than some headliners I’ve seen here in recent months – the crowd made so much noise it really was impressive, and shows that it’s not going to be long before they are able to fill venues this size by themselves rather than as a support act, and tonight wasn’t a one-off – they got a similarly impressive response at the London date a few days earlier.

Delain setlist:

Go Away
Get the Devil Out of Me
Army of Dolls
Sleepwalkers Dream
The Gathering
Not Enough
We Are the Others

Within Temptation_CZ2J1438After a break while the stage was set up with a cut-down set (the venue just isn’t big enough or high enough to use the full setup) then Within Temptation took to the stage.  The band came out and started playing, without singer Sharon Den Adel visible, then she joined them at the back of the stage at the top of some steps where she remained for most of the first song.

Like Delain, Within Temptation have a new album out – Hydra.  Tonight’s set included six songs from the new album (which is looking set to be their most successful yet) – “Let us burn”, “Paradise (what about us)”, “Dangerous”, “And we run”, “Covered by roses” and “Whole world is watching”.  Alongside these tracks we get material from across most their career, with several songs from “The Unforgiving” and songs from all their albums other than debut album “Enter”. It’s a fantastically strong set with the new material going down just as well as the fan favourites from earlier albums.

During the encore most of the band left the stage for “Whole world is watching”, and this was played acoustically – just Ruud on acosutic guitar and Sharon on vocals.  This stripped down performance sounds fantastic and really shows off how good Sharon’s voice is without any backing tracks, keyboards or other instruments distracting the focus away from the vocals.  Next up came a cover version – Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime sadness”.  I’ve usually got mixed feelings when bands play cover versions in their set as it means one less of their own songs gets played, but they’ve done such a good job covering this song (it’s on their album of cover versions “The Q music sessions”) that I’m glad they played it.  THe night then came to an end with the superb “Ice queen”.

The cheers were loud throughout the night, and watching the crowd it was clear that Within Temptation really are good at getting the crowd involved whether its getting them to wave their arms, sing along or clap in time.

My only disappointment was the video screens at the back.  Rather than showing Tarja during “Paradise (what about us)” they just showed patterns, but I think this was down to the height of the venue meaning they couldnt use the full height of the screens so showing the video would have looked odd with half the picture missing.

This really was a fantastic gig – two bands who both put in flawless performances and really impressed.  Both bands went down extremely well in front of the large crowd in this packed out venue, and I have no doubt that both bands will keep getting bigger.  In fact I’m expecting the next Within Temptation tour to include the much larger Birmingham NIA instead of the Academy to accomodate their growing fanbase.

Within Temptation setlist:

Let Us Burn
Paradise (What About Us?)
Edge of the World
In the Middle of the Night
Jillian (I’d Give My Heart)
And We Run
Elements Intro
See Who I Am
Stand My Ground
The Cross
Covered By Roses
Mother Earth

What Have You Done
Whole World Is Watching
Summertime Sadness
Ice Queen

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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