Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Within Temptation live at Brixton Academy, London 11/11/11

Pic by Hapfairy

This was the event of my year. No kidding, I have been building this up in my head and out loud (much to the amusement of my bf) for a whole year. Actually scratch that, since the last time I saw them live, which was in 2007.

I've been following all their tour vlogs and by Thursday I'd got to a point where I started wondering whether I had built it up too much, and what if they disappointed? I needn't have worried.


Let me start by saying that Brixton Academy is probably the best place you can see a band like Within Temptation indoors. The venue itself is an old Astoria cinema, built in the 1920s and still containing its Art Deco interiors. By itself, the venue is grand and impressive. Stick an equally grand and impressive band on the stage and you have something magic! 

The main event kicked off with the short film "Mother Maiden" which sets the whole tone for the album "The Unforgiving". This was followed by the first four tracks from "The Unforgiving", all generating much excitement from the crowd and a good party atmosphere. Sharon had tweeted a couple of days ago that she'd had some throat problems, but either she was better or just doing really well because the vocals as ever were totally spot on. She has a truly amazing voice, with so much power! 

Ice Queen was next up and as I predicted was an instant crowd pleaser. I love this song (as I think every WT fan does!) and had been eagerly awaiting it. As ever WT make good use of visual elements to their shows, utilising a giant video screen behind their rig to show short films throughout the songs, or their music videos where they have them. During Ice Queen my best mate nudged me to point at the ceiling, where the lights were scattering dancing snowflakes all over the place. 

The Howling was a popular choice, and the video graphics for that reminded me I still haven't got my hands on The Chronicles of Spellborn, if it is even still going! Our Solemn Hour was all the more poignant for it being Remembrance Day and Sharon sported a poppy on her outfit for the duration of this song, which was accompanied by war footage. 

Stand My Ground was a personal moment for me, as the last time I saw them live at Download in 2007, they had some equipment issues and could only manage 4 songs, this being one of them. I was in a totally different place mentally to where I am now and this song at the time was a huge source of strength to me. I didn't cry this time! 

An abridged version of the short film "SinĂ©ad" was shown as a preamble to the song of the same name, which is a good dancey track and one of my favourites from the album. There was a lot of jumping around and dancing to this one! 

What Have You Done? and Iron followed, with equal measures of crowd participation. Likewise with Angels, which was accompanied by the video for the track, which is a great piece of film. Angels (I keep typing angles... doh!) is another song that has personal resonance for me. In 2007 when I saw WT for the first time I was in the process of a difficult separation from my ex husband and this song had so many parallels with what was going on in my own life that I just broke down in tears at that gig. So, on Friday, when they played it, it was nice to hear it and think back on the difference in me, in my life and my happiness, and also that I have no residual anger about what was happening then. Pity maybe, but no anger. It was a beautiful moment for me that left me at peace with the world. 

Where Is The Edge finished up this part of the show, then the band went off for a quick breather, before returning with See Who I Am and Mother Earth. Mother Earth was accompanied by a video of aerial photography of somewhere, not sure where, but it started with a fly by of the coast, with a lively sea. Having grown up near the sea the sight of cliffs and lively water makes me yearn for home and feel calm and grounded all at once. 

The band went off again and returned for a final encore of Stairway to the Skies, rounding off The Unforgiving nicely and drawing everything to a close. They finished up with a little chatter with the crowd, some photos and Sharon's video, during the filming of which it was requested that we all shout a word... the words chosen by I think Ruud... Fish Sticks. Guess who'd been watching South Park?! 

I had orignally wanted to hang about for a bit to see if we could meet the band, but my best mate was knackered from a long week at work and a frantic day to get there on time, so we decided to head back to our hotel via a midnight lit Palace of Westminster and some soggy photos!

It was an amazing gig, absolutely perfect!

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