After Forever / Nightmare / Crimson Tears
31 January 2006
The Garage, London

It`s a two edged sword for Crimson Tears tonight. Great that they managed to get on this bill, but an OK set is made to look inadequate by the two bands that followed them. A weak version of Moonchild highlighted this. With the following two bands coincidentally also closing their sets with an Iron Maiden cover, Crimson Tears` cover was made to look frankly a bit Phoenix Nights.

That perhaps sounds a little unkind, as the band are however improving. Keyboardist Marcus` use of a guitar style keyboard, meant he could help on the visual front and Gina came across a lot less eccentric than past performances. The rest of the band really need to get over their obvious stage fright if Crimson Tears are to step up a level.

Crimson Tears set list included:
My Plea / Gothica / Razorblade Serenade / Moonchild

In contrast Nightmare were magnific! France does not have a great deal to be proud of in the world of heavy metal, but this mob certainly deserve a great deal more exposure. Picking up the band`s latest cd The Dominion Gate a week before this gig, I couldn`t believe I`d never heard of these guys and they didn`t disappoint live either.

Right from the intro tape as the tall figures of guitarists Alex Hibert, Frank Milleliri and bassist Yves Campion strode on to the stage, Nightmare oozed professionalism and took on the crowd. Playing a brand of power metal which has more in common with Brainstorm or Vicious Rumors, but with added symphonic backing, the band are fronted by the French Ronnie James Dio in Jo Amore. Amore was clearly delighted to have made the trip over the channel and had the crowd responding on demand.

Songs such as Secret Rules and particularly Messenger Of Faith hit the spot and the band can even be forgiven for not noticing they were not playing a stadium when leading the crowd through an extended sing-a-long during Circle Of The Dark.

Nightmare certainly came as a very pleasant surprise for a lot of people here and it`s to be hoped they don`t disappear back into obscurity.

Nightmare set list included:
Secret Rules / Messenger Of Faith / Cosmovision / Circle Of The Dark / Power Of The Universe / The Watchtower / Aces High

After Forever were not about to have the show stolen from them however and treated us to a very slick 90minute show. Wearing the same outfit as on the cover of new album Remagine, and facing head on into a wind machine, Floor Jansen looked as sexy as hell. Where some frontwomen appear uncomfortable on stage, Floor commands it.

While the promotion and availability of Remagine in the UK may have been limited, the band are rightly proud of the material on it and play much of it tonight. By Boundaries Are Open the sound is crystal clear with Joost van den Broek`s keyboards particularly making their presence felt. The operatics were to the max during Living Shields, which also incorporates the course male vocals of guitarist Sander Gommans.

Whilst Remagine makes up most of the set, we are promised something from every album and old favourites such as My Pledge Of Allegiance and Monolith Of Doubt impress. Later Digital Deceit is the sole inclusion from previous album Invisible Circles. The contrast between the more extended symphonic songs from that album and the more direct songs from Remagine is marked.

The delicate Strong spotlights Floor`s emotional vocals and similar to Nightwish the band give her a break as they take on Metallica`s For Whom The Bell Tolls. To be honest it felt like an odd choice of cover and didn`t sit comfortably with the band`s own material. In contrast, their cover of The Evil That Men Do with Floor on vocals works a treat.

Floor appears in a pair of red devil horns as Luuk van Gerven`s lolloping bass signals Face Your Demons with the song`s simplicity one of it`s key strengths. It is followed by the album`s single, Being Everyone, which resides in Within Temptation territory.

After Forever`s set was lengthy but enthralling throughout. With a very hooky album to their name and a highly professional live show, the band now just lack the record label push to capitalise on their strengths.

After Forever set list included:
Enter / Come / Boundaries Are Open / Living Shields / Pledge Of Allegiance Pt.1 / Beyond Me / Attendance / Monolith Of Doubt / Strong / Free Of Doubt / For Whom The Bell Tolls / Only Everything / No Control / Face Your Demons / Being Everyone / Digital Deceit / Evil That Men Do

After Forever
Crimson Tears