EVERGREY's British Stopover - Live In Manchester
November 16, 2016, a year ago
Gray, chilly and with an omnipresent hint of rain in the air, not just the stereotypical British autumn, but a fitting setting for Evergrey, whose melancholy music, some have called, gloriously depressive. The Swedes were part of a multinational European tour, living out their male fantasies, sandwiched between two women, Dutch headliners Delain and Canada's Kobra & The Lotus. Since the band won't be on these shores until late April, through May, BraveWords caught up with the band at the O2 Ritz, in Manchester, UK.
Hanging in town, a few days prior to the show, also ran across the Grand Central, a local rock/metal club less than 100 m from my hotel. Thursdays, there are live bands and decent prices, including a 550ml Newcastle for less than $5 US or try the Jager Train (three successive Jager Bombs for 8 quid, my days of doing shots long in the rearview mirror!). Early show, with 6pm doors and a 10pm curfew, down the street, Graham Bonnet (ex-MSG/ex-Rainbow) is playing and the night before, both New Model Army Phil Campbell (ex-Motorhead) was in town.
The queue stretches a city block and once inside, the balcony and floor are tight, but not immobile. Lots of red and blue lights, Jonas Ekdahl sharing drums with the openers, to facilitate a 15 minute changeover (which caused them to play under a Delain backdrop). Starting with the rather upbeat “Passing Through” (one of just two newbies, off the AFM Released The Storm Within, aired this evening), it's evident the band are having a good time, smiling and joking throughout the set, like when Tom Englund pretends to push his guitar partner Henrik Danhage into the photo pit. Keyboard player Rikard Zander is ensconced behind what appears to be an oversized, purposefully gutted old speaker cabinet: think college frat party battered, missing the screen, wires hanging out, etc. He became extremely animated, working his magic, during “Leave It Behind Us”, where Danhage was headbanging madly.
Englund acknowledged this was their first time in Manchester, then endeared himself to half the crowd, announcing he was a big Man United soccer fan. As a chorus of boos ensued, he countered, “How many people have a problem with me? Let's not bring sport into this.” Cue “Black Undertow”. The tall, bearded frontman introduced “In Orbit”, saying “This is our single. It has Floor Jansen on it. She's not here tonight, so we'll sing it for you.” Lightning strobes greet “Broken Wings”, aqua lit to start, before returning to the omnipresent reds.
Big stadium rock moment when, under blue and white lights, Danhage is alone, center stage, for a guitar solo, eventually accompanied by keys. “A Touch Of Blessing” gets a huge response, almost immediately, at least some of the audience familiar with the Swedes' handicraft. Englund sings, leaning on the mic stand for support, his guitar, at times, an afterthought. “King Of Errors” sees those down front singing along and when they take the group bow, it's clear they've won over the majority of the Delain fanbase, who had been aloof at the start.
Hopefully the North American tour will afford a little longer set time, as they're sounding great. Make plans to attend one of the show to see for yourself.