Beginning of November and out on a mild evening, we’re at the NIA for a bit of rock-gothic melodrama – Amy Lee and her support crew are here to bring Birmingham to life – it’s time for Evanescence.
I didn’t get there in time to see the support act – but a bit of a plug here. Lost Alone are a trio featuring Mark Gibson on drums, Steve Battelle on guitar and Alan Williamson on bass. Current album ‘I’m A UFO in the City’ is available to purchase through the usual channels with new single ‘Creatures’ released a couple of days ago. Pundits have given them Queenesque / Muse comparisons – listening they have a raw American punk sound with harmonized vocals – a number of reviewers saying these guys are rising stars. On the UK tour with Evanescence, you can catch them on their hometown Christmas gig at Derby Assembly Rooms on 21st December 2012.
Second support, The Used are giving it some screamy rock as I take my seat in the gods. I think I can touch the roof from here, but it’s a great vantage point. When Evanescence announced this gig at the NIA I wondered whether they would take the leap from the near sold out 02 Academy Birmingham show they played pretty much 12 months to this day. That venue holds about 3,000. Well they gave it a good effort – stage moved forward – third of arena fenced off – standing on the floor – I guess max of 5-6,000 here. Maybe a thought that Brum could do with a venue larger than the likes of the Academy, Ballroom and Institute but not as big as the NIA or LG. Anyway – back to the gig….
The Used are an LA based outfit: Bert McCraken singer, Quinn Allman on guitar, Jepha on bass and Dan Whiteside on drumming duties. New album ‘Vulnerable’ apparently, reflects The Used trademark ability to ‘ turn personal adversity in to art.’ Formed in Orem, Utah in 2001 they’ve had quite a journey – not only in music but in their own lives too. “Without music and you guys I probably wouldn’t be here today – don’t take yourself too seriously don’t be afraid to smile.…” – you can hear the inspiration behind ‘Vulnerable. These dates with Evanescence are part of a European tour.
The Used think that “Birmingham fuckin’ rocks…. best show so far of the tour.” Band are clearly enjoying themselves McCraken is energetic and chatty and pretty good fun: “ … a lot of hardcore fans here in the UK!” as the singer invites these selected fans to come and have “hardcore fuckin’ sexual intercourse…” And then offers the same to the hardcore Evanescence fans. The Used are American pop punk rock with thrown in screamy bits – a kinda cross between Blink and Deftones. They’re pretty good and go down well with the crowd – although the sound in this venue echoes around and it ain’t the best for rock gigs. Maybe when the NIA gets it’s multi-million pound refit it’ll improve. Fingers crossed.
So between bands – a half an hour break – we have a snooze and listen to the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Alice In Chains and a smattering of Faith No More….
Formed just seven years ago by Amy Lee and Ben Moody, Evanescence’s first album ‘Fallen’ had stratospheric sales: over 17m albums worldwide (winning a vast series of awards including two Grammys) driven by huge hit ‘Bring Me To Life’ (with vocal support from Paul McCoy of 12 Stones). Their follow up album, ‘The Open Door’ continued that success with sales over 6 million and their latest self titled 2011 ‘Evanescence’ looks to be following the trend. The singles are certainly getting airplay…
The band appears on stage, Lee in her usual mystical goth-inspired clothing, to a rather loud scream from the crowd. With far more space then the Academy she prowls the stage, pumping the air with her arm as she sings, engaging the crowd. First track ‘What You Want’ clearly shows the sound is far more balanced than it was for the support acts.
The stage is pretty simple, however they clearly employed a lighting guy who loves to have fun – and it’s pretty impressive, giving full reflective mood to Evanescence’s tracks – ‘Weight of The World’ blasts powerful white light across the stage. ‘Going Under’ Lee and the band go for it – the guys in the band are pretty hardcore, tight and loud. “Hello Birmingham – it’s wonderful to see you – it’s wonderful to see you after all these years…”
Then a piano segment for a few tracks – a real piano is brought to the front of the stage, Lee takes her place, a green spotlight focused just on her. As she gives us ‘Lithium’ from where I am you can see thousands of mobile phones recording. Once it would have been lighters waving, with a few burnt fingers. ‘Lost in Paradise’ is probably one of the standout tracks of the night; Lee’s vocals are pretty impressive on this big epic ballad.
The songs swirl, powerful and strong, and then we get the big hit. Opened up by that piano melody, the crowd sings the words and Evanescence blow us away.
Evanescence had massive success on their first album. 17 million + sales worldwide and 43 weeks in the Billboard Top 10 is pretty incredible. They have brought gothic rock to the masses, there’s a real eclectic mix here, from rockers to little people and everyone in between. Evanescence have brought rock to a young, female crowd, who will hopefully seek to experience more that rock and metal has to offer. If you like Evanescence they give you exactly what you would expect, they have followed ‘Bring Me To Life’ template to the letter – there is no deviation from their gothic metal, ethereal sound, they are far louder and harder rock than on record. It’s clearly a formula that works for Lee and her gang.
Pretty impressive and, at £28.50, not bad for an arena gig. If you like their music – they will impress you. Go and enjoy.
1. What You Want
2. Going Under
3. The Other Side
4. Weight of the World
5. Made of Stone
7. Lost in Paradise
8. My Heart is Broken
10. The Change
12. Swimming Home
13. Call Me When You’re Sober
15. Bring Me To Life
17. My Immortal
Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown
Photos by Katja Ogrin