Live Review + Photos: Epica, 2013
Epica / Metal
The Metro Theatre, Sydney 19/04/2013
Review and Photos: Peter Zaluzny
Ten years of waiting. Ten years of having to make do with records, DVDs and YouTube footage. It had taken Epica, the Dutch metal masterminds, ten years to reach our shores, but Sydney’s time had finally come and The Metro Theatre was welcoming the operatic sextet with unrestrained enthusiasm.
Opening act Metal (in name and genre) took to the stage with a catalogue that could have been derived entirely from Manowar’s classic Die For Metal. Straight up songs about battles, buccaneers and balls-out metal gradually warmed up the room, and by the midpoint the front rows had their beers raised in the name of metal. The band sustained their presence with impressive musicianship, shredding out solo after solo after solo.
Metal accurately represented the real metalhead, but with less spandex and more wailing. Despite their epic ambitions the band were held back by their inability to perform on a large stage. That’s not to say they didn’t deserve the spot, but their banter, antics and general performance seemed much better suited to a small, intimate gig. A relatively flat, bassless mix marred the set until the final song where things were finally kicked up a notch and the sound filled the room, showing the audience what Metal were really capable of.
Time teased the audience after Metal had finished, ticking by so slowly that it felt as though another decade had passed before the lights dimmed. An orchestral score gradually came to life, building up over five minutes to generate an atmosphere that discouraged any connection with the outside world. The room was dripping with anticipation, as the audience screamed “Epica, Epica, Epica,” to the opening notes of “Karma” from Requiem For The Indifferent. Epica welcomed Sydney into their universe.
Each member walked on stage and screamed in the faces of the ecstatic audience. Most of the diehard crowd were seeing Epica for the first time, and their excitement was infectious. The five boys, led by guitarist/screamer Mark Jansen, picked up their instruments, looked at one another and smashed into “Monopoly On Truth”. The floor responded, thrashing, headbanging and throwing their horns to the sky. But something was missing from the mix, something that Epica just couldn’t do without. Then her powerful voice exploded from nowhere, from a world beyond the stage. Simone Simons emerged from the shadows to a mighty roar from the crowd, her operatic vocals echoing throughout the room taking the music to gloriously powerful levels and starting the show with a mighty bang.
The set was filled with classics that included soaring operatic compositions, quiet moments of reflection and episodes of pure unbridled metal. The entire production was spectacular and rehearsed down to the tiniest detail, backed up by a visually stunning lighting rig that complemented the music and added to the dynamic performance. There was some brief banter between songs that brought the band down to earth, but their apology for arriving a decade late was quickly forgotten in light of the performance. Epica weren’t content with putting on a show, they wanted to put on a performance and in all respects, they succeeded.
Despite constant activity, frequent headbanging and even some antics between members, not a single note was missed. There was never a point where the audience were drawn out of the moment until the set was complete, which touched on everything that makes Epica’s music so emotionally engaging. The energy of the room grew with each song, encouraged by the band who split the room in two for a screaming war.
The final three songs began with some comedic banter from keboardist Coen Janssen. A mighty scream of support met his suggestion that the band should get naked. Jansen began running around the stage with a cape made from the Australian flag, while Janssen screamed “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!” After closing with the ten minute epic “Consign To Oblivion”, Simons snapped the room back to reality with her final note, the last chord that resonated through the crowd.
People came to realise that they had witnessed something incredibly special that seamlessly shifted between an intense, powerful atmosphere, to one of quite positive, and sometimes sombre reflection. Epica threw reins around The Metro’s neck and guided it through an emotionally explosive journey with a perfect show that everyone in the audience felt a part of.