On the second night of their current North American tour, the long running, but rejuvenated (and somewhat sonically altered), Dutch outfit, fronted by chanteuse Sharon den Adel, stopped by the Fillmore, in Philadelphia. While female fronted metal bands are de rigueur, in this day and age, the Netherlands birthed many early pioneers, beginning with The Gathering (including After Forever, Epica, Delain), but for the last two decades, Within Temptation has been the hallmark.
There are video screens behind the band, especially a circular window behind the drummer, displaying all sorts of futuristic landscapes, flames and assorted video clips. Pleasantly surprised that the audience wasn't a sea of cell phone screens, people actually interested to watch/participate in the live event! The five guys (two guitars, including toque adorned Ruud Jolie, plus keyboards, drum and bass) are onstage first, the singer's entrance delayed until "Raise Your Banner" is underway. Perhaps later in the tour In Flames frontman Anders Fridén will reprise his guest vocal slot on the song, but things are too new (on this tour) for both bands. When she arrives, den Adel is wearing a white translucent (cheese cloth) robe, cowl pulled up around her head, waving a logo emblazoned white flag of resistance (oxymoron). Not the first odd juxtaposition of the night, as at the merchandise booth, they were hawking a t-shirt in support of the new album, but prioritize: two lines of lettering that say "Resist Within Temptation" doesn't strike me as "promotion." Two more newbies follow, "The Reckoning" and "Endless War", the singer even referencing all the Resist material, so early, and thanking the crowd for listening. Somewhat fittingly, given the title, technical glitches caused "Endless War" to be attempted and restarted, three times.
A video conflagration arises behind the band, on lively "In the Middle Of The Night", fans adding their voices to the titular chorus. Has it really been 15 years since the Silent Force record? "Stand My Ground" gives the illusion it's raining onstage, lightning strikes and all (paradoxically, it was precipitating, outside the venue). Prior to emotive "All I Need", Sharon recognizes a fan, on the rail, and gives them a shout out, as a frequent concert attendee. As green, ethereal wisps envelope sci-fi landscapes onscreen, for "The Promise", couldn't help but think that the keyboardist's all beige, neck high smock recalled a cyborg, maybe Ash, from the original Alien movie. For this one, den Adel ditches the white wrap, donning silver, elbow length gloves (removed before the song concludes). We can now see she's in a black dress, slit to the thigh, one shoulder strap purposely displaced, partially revealing a silver brassiere. As it began, the two guitarists are together, center stage. Begun a cappella, "The Cross" with it's "ah ah ah" verbal accents, is lit in orange.
New life is breathed into "Ice Queen", as essentially an acoustic duet, with guitarist Stefan Helleblad. "Faster" is truthfully entitled, a street scene plays out on the video walls behind them, as Jolie makes a rare foray to stage left. Aqua and purple lit "Mercy Mirror" returns the pace to mid-tempo, geometric patterns intertwine on the screen. The band, minus "Ash" on keyboards, leaves the stage for "Forgiven" which is just den Adel and the keys. She stands next to him, towards the back of the stage, rather than out front. During the ballad, the stage resembles a starry night, white points of light against a dark/blue backdrop. The fragmented black & white images during strobe blitzkrieg, set closer (audience shouted!) "What Have You Done" reminded me of an ultrasound display. The title phrase is virtually the sum total of the lyrics.
The show goes out on a high note, with "Mother Earth" (celebrating twenty years!) as the encore, a place it's occupied for much of its existence. Audience hands swaying back and forth overhead, as they sing "oh, oh" introduction. The band are alternately darkly lit and flashing strobe illuminated. Sharon, works the entire stage (one long goodbye to the crowd she's interacted with, throughout), pumping her fist as she ventures to and fro.
As alluded to earlier, old Brave Words friends In Flames opened. There's been a few key line-up changes, both in the band and mag/website since BW&BK (as we were then known) witnessed the Swedes first USA performance (at the '99 Milwaukee Metalfest). When we met, these guys could barely grow facial hair and look at them now! Hell, the group were not only on the cover, at that time, but hung out the night before and spent the next day signing autographs from a joint Brave Words/Nuclear Blast booth. Ah, the days of international cooperation...
Tonight, "Pinball Map" was the oldest tune aired, although on North American stops prior to joining up with the Dutch (just two days ago), "Colony" was in the setlist. Fridén was in jovial mood (maybe he'd already hit Yards, one of his favorite microbreweries. In fact he gave them a shout-out from the stage). He introduced the aforementioned, saying "It's from an amazing album, because all our albums are amazing." The singer spent much of the night on his elevated, lit-from-below shadowbox/riser, while to his left, mainstay guitarist Björn Gelotte was spotlighted. Jangly, "All Of Me" began under yellow lights, dueling guitars, from opposite ends of the stage. Prerecorded voiceover greets the shouted lyric "(This Is Our) House". Although it wasn't the fist off I, Mask, prior to "I Am Above", the bearded vocalist talked about being proud of the new record, saying, "I could be in Hawaii, celebrating, drinking coconut drinks, but I'm in Philly, If you're drinking coconut drinks, or shitty beer.." cue the plug for Yards. On previous stops in the city, he's taken to the stage in the brewery's swag. Asking if it was OK to play another newbie, he countered, "If you say no, we're still going to play it!" Under purple and white, the aggro voiced cut was heavier than anything offered to that point. Criss-crossing red and white streaks of light descend from overhead, on "Cloud Connected". Fittingly, "The End" was just that.
It's a short stretch of dates, so if it comes close by, don't hesitate to see this tour.