By Mark Gromen
Just three nights into the new, month-long leg of the Silverthorn tour, mainstays Thom Youngblood (guitar) and Harry Potter's Severus Snape doppelganger, aka Casey Grillo (drums) brought KAMELOT to the Trocadero, in Philadelphia, focused on their last three albums, punctuated by solo spots for the drummer, bassist Sean Tibbetts and guest Coen Janssen, who's on loan from EPICA while his bandmate Simone Simons and KAMELOT keyboardist Oliver Palotai welcome the birth of their first child. However, the vocals, recently recruited Tommy Karevik (SEVENTH WONDER) and blue-haired female guest Alissa White-Gluz (THE AGONIST), are the real stars of the show.
Some older fans have begun to voice mild displeasure with the similarities in setlist, foregoing most of the material prior to Ghost Opera. There's some validity, as last Fall's run (in support of NIGHTWISH) also featured 'Ghost Opera', 'The Great Pandemonium' and 'Center Of The Universe' in the opening third, as well as single 'Sacrimony (Angel Of The Afterlife)', 'The Human Stain', 'Forever' and the closing 'March Of Mephisto'. If you've got good songs, you don't trash them, just to be "different." However, a little more variety seems warranted. By contrast, look at the 2000 live album, The Expedition: not a single song from that disc still appears onstage! Throughout the night, Youngblood wielded his axe atop one of the three boxed risers lining the front of the stage. The others, utilized them as well.
Onstage, the guitar amps are stacked on the sides, so there's nothing to obstruct the riser, which houses Grillo's kit, as well as where White-Gluz stands/sings for most of the show. 'Ghost Opera' and 'The Great Pandemonium' get things off on the right foot. Karevik is a personable frontman, crouching, punching the air and during 'Center Of The Universe', which is backed by Alissa, he cups his ear, feigning deafness to the considerable audience response. 'Human Stain' is lit in green with Tibbett's braids bouncing like a blonde Medusa, when he's not holding his bass aloft vertically. 'Song For Jolee' is introduced as "a letter from a brother, to his sister, who had to leave the planet." Just keys to start, white spotlights wash the otherwise blue stage. As the tempo enlivens, the bassist scales the riser, next to Grillo. Below, under pink lights, with a hint of blue, Karevik remains unmoved, stationary at the front of the stage, as he's been since the song began.
The drum solo is lit from each side, not overhead, and when completed, the stage goes black. Fitting, for what's to follow. White-Gluz is now in a white "wedding" dress, as the stage is bathed in green and gold for a lively 'When The Lights Are Down'. The red tinged, staccato follow-up, 'Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)' sees the female vocalist leave her perch, arriving center stage to add some aggressive, guttural death metal vox. Some 2+ hours after their set, the all-female instrumental group EKLIPSE are back, in stage outfits, to aid 'My Confession'. Have they just been sitting backstage, waiting, or have they showered and dolled up all over? Pink is the choice for the keyboard solo, which leads into 'Forever', Karevik in the photo pit, singing from the barricade, next to the fans. Being the final number of the proper set, this one becomes a lengthy sing-along with the fans.
Tibbetts is the first to return, his solo making way for the encore. 'Karma' and red hazed militaristic 'March Of Mephisto' (courtesy of a couple of the EKLIPSE girls trading strings for stagefront snare drums and White-Gluz with yet another costume change) brought the night to a rousing finale. Following the bows, as on Silverthorn, the final notes are the instrumental 'Continuum', playing through the speakers as everyone exits the hall.
More photos from Philadelphia can be seen here