29 September 2004
The Scala, London
Within Temptation are only just being launched upon the UK market. Their Mother Earth album, which has been out since the end of 2000 in Europe, has just been released here this month and tonight`s gig marked their debut on these shores. Given this, I had initially thought that picking a venue the size of The Scala was a brave move. However, the secret appears to be well and truly out as the venue was absolutely rammed and finding a small space to squeeze yourself into was quite a challenge.
Not only had people travelled from all over this country, but there were fans from Within Temptation`s homeland, The Netherlands, as well as visitors from as far a field as Norway and even the U.S.A.. This is a true measure of the devotion this band incite in their fans, who with the lack of a photo pit (hence Johan`s long shots) were practically spilling over on to the stage. Singer Sharon den Adel is akin to a magnet. Wherever she goes stage front she is met with outstretched arms and, on her arrival, roses and a bouquet of flowers.
With no support act, the soundman has had all day to prepare for Within Temptation`s set and he`d certainly done himself proud as right from the opening chords of Deceiver of Fools the sound is both well balanced and crystal clear.
A lot of work also seemed to have gone into the presentation, with mood evoking projections coupled with excellent lightning. Caged sees the stage bathed in yellow light with bassists Jeroen van Veen`s silhouette cast against a projection of lightning across red then blue skies. Mother Earth meanwhile took us on a trip over mountains with footage from the songs own promo video.
The band appear astonished by the ecstatic reception from a crowd who sing along to every song from the Mother Earth album, which, excluding bonus tracks, was played in it`s entirety with the exception of In Perfect Harmony. The enthusiasm seemed to overcome a few however, who comically clap along completely out of time to the opening of the delicate Our Farewell. Thankfully this stops quite quickly with Sharon`s passionate vocals and writhing arms having an almost hypnotic effect. Female fronted bands appear in trend at the moment, but there are few with a singer able to convey as much warmth as Sharon does.
With so much attention on their singer it would be very easy for the rest of the band to take a backseat, but they put full effort into their on stage performances. On either side of the stage were two podiums housing upward facing lights, which guitarists Robert Westerholt and Ruud Jolie make their own.
Sharon disappears at the start of The Promise, reappearing to sing the song from the balcony amongst the crowd. This seemed to further connect the audience and band.
There won`t be long to wait before new album Silent Force is released and tonight four songs from it are previewed. On first listen it would appear that these songs follow a rockier direction, however it has to be said that the Mother Earth material itself seemed to pack a tougher punch in the live environment.
A beautiful acoustic version of Never Ending Story followed by expected set closer Ice Queen close a triumphant UK debut. I suspect it won`t be long before we see Within Temptation back on our shores and undoubtedly it will be in a much bigger venue.
Within Temptation set list:
Deceiver Of Fools / Caged / Mother Earth / Our Farewell / Orff* / The Promise / Dark Wings / Restless / Jane Doe / Forsaken / Running Up That Hill / See Who I Am / Never Ending Story / Ice Queen
*This song may be now called Gillian but the set list said Orff
FOOTNOTE: The last photo in the photos section is of me in a headlock (Johan's idea!) with Bill Wiles, former professional U.S. wrestler and current drummer of Pandora's Blade. Bill and a fellow bandmate had travelled over from the States specifically for the gig. Bill had taken on 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin in his time and had Johan had enough film you would obviously have seen me holding Bill down for a count of three ...er, maybe not!