It was hard to say which band I was looking forward to more. I'd never seen Within Temptation before, but had liked them almost as long as Nightwish and Sonata Arctica - and they had special meaning to me, to boot, because a funny Dutch friend in Hong Kong introduced me to them. Yeah, I wasn't as huge a fan of their 2011 album, The Unforgiving, because I felt like it was too hard rock. And I hadn't followed the band for a number of years so I completely missed their transformation from gothic metal to symphonic metal. But I enjoyed this year's Hydra - very symphonic, with some gothic touches to boot. Not only that, but that album turned out to make a great soundtrack for the transition that's happening in my personal life, especially the songs "Dangerous" and "The Whole World is Watching," and even "And We Run," in spite of - actually especially because of - the rap part.
As for Amaranthe, they're pretty unique in the metal scene with their music that combines electronic dance beats with death growls and metal riffs, and they were stellar when I saw them in Philly last year. It promised to be a night of dancing and emotional release.
Unfortunately, a poor route choice left me on the road for about two hours (blagh!) and so I (and my pal J, sorry man :( ) missed most of Amaranthe's set. They were just ending "Amaranthine" as we got into the venue. We spent the next couple songs ("Call Out My Name," "Drop Dead Cynical") trying to get drinks, looking at merch and looking for people. Well, that was what J was doing; I just followed him around. My friend D found me by Amaranthe's merch table right before the band launched into "The Nexus," and we stood between the bar and the crowd where we could just barely see the band, and headbanged a bit. That was their last song, sadly. At least S informed me later that they didn't play "Electroheart"; I'd have hated myself for missing that song, unabashed electro-metal dance song that it is.
Then D dragged me into the crowd, so I ended up in the middle of the floor and quite close up for Within Temptation. How am I going to headbang and dance? I wondered. But I managed. They started off with their radio hit (I mean, it gets played on XM radio) from their latest album, "Paradise (What About Us?)," which was recorded as a duet with Tarja Turunen (ex-Nightwish), but Sharon pulled it off all on her own, and sounded damn good. They played mainly from Hydra (yay!) and The Unforgiving (all right..) with just a few older songs thrown in here and there. While I barely expected that I might hear my favorite song, "The Dance" (too old and obscure :( ), I did hope they'd play "The Howling," but no luck. However, "Ice Queen" and "Mother Earth" were plenty amazing, full of gothic goodness that got me dancing. I also was really looking forward to hearing "The Whole World is Watching" from Hydra and was sad when the end of the set arrived without it. I found a lot of songs from Hydra personally meaningful, but that was the one that would probably have reduced me to tears. But they played all the other songs I hoped to hear from Hydra, most especially "Dangerous," which is like the theme song for my life at the moment. Unfortunately, the rap part that was piped in during "And We Run" was almost inaudible; too bad, because those words had a lot of meaning for me, too. But the most amazing moment was probably Sharon's little speech before "Stand My Ground," where she talked about how things are changing in the world and people should be whoever they wanna be, "gay or straight or whatever you are, whatever religion..." Wow, from a band of their standing, that meant a lot, and made the song even more powerful. I might have screamed "Stand your ground!" totally off key the first time the chorus came around XD I may have tuned out a little for some of the slower songs from The Unforgiving, but overall it was a good set, and they sounded great. Mostly. Sharon flubbed the vocals at the start of "Angels," but the crowd was not unforgiving (heh, heh). Actually, her vocals seemed a little bit weak throughout - but it is nearing the end of the tour, so she might be getting tired. If I'm not mistaken though, she pulled off Tarja's parts of "Paradise (What About Us?)" pretty well, which is a feat.
While I was pretty disappointed that I missed most of Amaranthe (and so much dancing that could have gone with them!), Within Temptation did not disappoint. Yeah, maybe I caught them ten years too late to hear most of their gothic songs, but the songs from Hydra completely made up for it.
Next show: Going to see Cab Ride Home tonight :D