Delain @ The Forge, Joliet (US)

DELAIN / AMORPHIS / ANNEKE

Date: 28th September, 2019
Venue: The Forge
Ticket: $30 (€27)
Promoter: n/a


This billing looked a bit strange with AMORPHIS appearing before DELAIN, but at the same time it was a strong indication that the Dutch band has been on a rising course gathering momentum in this side of Atlantic. If you work really hard, then eventually you will gain traction here in the States, and DELAIN have been doing exactly this by taking their music on the road and performing in their best.

It felt great to see a packed The Forge with fans from all walks of (music) life; there were the classic metalheads, the ones whose taste goes farther than traditional Metal and those who kind of stand in between. This is amazing because good music knows no boundaries and we should feel lucky to have such an abundance of great bands and musicians in Metal and the surrounding sub-genres scene.

The opening act was our beloved Anneke van Giersbergen who appeared sparkling as always with just an acoustic guitar in hand. It may be a tough bet to kick off a Metal show with an acoustic set but Anneke belongs in a different league; her involvement in THE GATHERING and so many cool projects like Devin Townsend, Arjen Lucassen’s AYREON, AMORPHIS - just to name a few - (you should check VUUR too) along with her solo albums has established Anneke as one of the best vocals in the scene being a great performer. With that in mind, the loud round of applause and a bit louder cheers made total sense the moment she appeared onstage wearing her trademark red lipstick and a bigger than life smile. “How are you doing?”, she asked before getting warmed up to start her acoustic set. Although I have never been onstage to perform, I think I understand how difficult it can be to stand in front of a packed venue and try to get things going. “Ih-Ah!” from the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT would be enough to break thickest of ice blocks, if it the guitar amp had been eager to cooperate. There was a buzzing sound and would had been enough to kill the mood if Anneke had not been so cool. After getting this fixed, she said: “Well, I should start from the beginning, right?” and got an even louder cheer than before. Having an acoustic set before a “plugged-in” one is (also ) tricky because not everyone is prepared for this. What I am trying to say is hearing people talking during the performance is annoying to say the least, but what can you do? The next one was probably the closest we can get to an AYREON show... Yeah, Arjen will never do a North US tour, so getting to hear “Valley Of The Queens” from Anneke’s voice was a unique delight (trust me, seeing Arjen and Anneke doing this one in an acoustic set is amazing). “Saturnine” came out great and then something one could characterize as bizarre... “They asked me to open a Rock show, so I thought to learn a Rock song” said Anneke before revealing that she was talking about a KISS song. “Do you want to hear a KISS or a Dolly Parton song?”, she added; to some, this may seem like a rhetorical question, but in reality it wasn’t because by popular demand The Forge audience chose the latter. That’s right; “Jolene” was next and was topped off with a loud singing-along, making this the highlight of Anneke’s set, and I think this response may have surprised her a bit.

Considering how awesome “Circles” sounded, solidified my preference of having more songs from her solo albums (“Beautiful One” and/or “Day After Yesterday” from AGUA DE ANNIQUE are the easy picks) but I do understand that these would not have been as popular as “Like A Stone” and “Wish You Were Here” turned out to be. Of course, the IRON MAIDEN cover on “Wasted Years” featuring Anneke’s guitar solo was also a crowd pleaser, although “Jolene” got more people involved... I hope to see Anneke with a full-on “electric” band in the not so distant future.

Anneke van Giersbergen setlist:

01. “Ih-Ah!”
02. “Valley Of The Queens”
03. “Saturnine”
04. “Jolene”
05. “Circles”
06. “Like A Stone”
07. “Wish You Were Here”
08. “Wasted Years”

ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN

Anneke van Giersbergen @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anneke van Giersbergen @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anneke van Giersbergen @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anneke van Giersbergen @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Anneke van Giersbergen @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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True to their promise, AMORPHIS returned to the US in the same touring cycle, but I cannot claim that I “had enough” from “Queen Of Time”. Quite the contrary; this album deserves more air-time with songs that should become stable in the band’s setlist but please, do not ask me what songs to remove.

A quarter to 9pm, the lights went out and the taped intro marked “showtime” for the Finns.  Damn, why did they choose to open the set with “The Bee”? I mean, it was already challenging to take photos under the “red leds / destroyer of digital photography” lights and having such a headbanger made things… fun. Oh yeah, AMORPHIS are amazing in concert with Tomi (aka ‘my hair always hide my face’) leading the charge with his deep growling. Is it amazing to headbang like there’s tomorrow to a song that talks about bees? You bet it is because in case you’ve missed the memo, bees are amazing creatures and I hope you agree with me. “Come on, Joliet, make some noise”, said Tomi just before the equally amazing duet of “The Golden Elk” and “Silver Bride”. The double guitar harmonies, the pounding rhythm and Tomi’s growling / clean singing mix create the perfect storm in live shows. Yes, there was no warming up period and it felt like we were at the middle of the set with both the band and the audience being in the same mood.

“Thank you so much, Joliet. From the cold Finland, we are AMORPHIS, said Tomi before hitting us with the oldie “The Four Wise Ones”. I don’t think the audience reacted differently listening to an older AMORPHIS song and this actually makes sense since the Finnish band has broken the tough shell of the US market with Tomi behind the mic, meaning that the albums from his era are more familiar. Oh yeah, “The Smoke” came out great topped off by the keyboard melodies served by Santeri Kallio underlining how different it is when no pre-recorded parts are being used. Speaking of keyboards, the way “Wrong Direction” starts always sends shivers down my spine just like it did the first time I laid my ears on “Queen Of Time”. There is a layer of melancholy under almost every AMORPHIS song that makes their music characteristic and in a bizarre way so entertaining. If a bunch of Finns cannot deliver melancholy and not blacken the listener’s soul, I don’t know who else can do this. Another AMORPHIS trademark is the twin guitars and the chant-along worthy riffs they are serving through the hands of the Esa Holopainen / Tomi Koivusaari duo, although both gentlemen like to remain at their spots without working too much with the audience (maybe the former is doing more). “Daughter Of Hate” sounded great (isn’t the latest fantastic?) even without the saxophone parts and was challenged by the next one that really did not need any special introduction aside from the opening guitar chords. Esa started playing the intro any AMORPHIS fan with self-respect should recognize in a blink of an eye. Yes, “My Kantele” was next and everyone inside The Forge reacted upon hearing these melancholy-infested guitar chords - amazing.

“We might have a couple more for you if you wanna hear it”, said Tomi although I am sure he knew the answer because the audience has been working as hard as the band throughout the set and “Black Winter Day” was the right follow-up to his question. There was no chance to miss the opportunity of including “Amongst Stars” in the set, simply because the guest singer on the studio recording was present. Of course, I am referring to Anneke who joined the band for this one and watching her performing with a “plugged-in” band made me realize how much I have missed her in this setting. I don’t know the reason(s) but I would love to see her live with a full band doing an entire set with guitar distortion, pounding drums and headbanging on the same menu. The last of the night for AMORPHIS was “a song about a house” and I am quoting Tomi here. “House Of Sleep” ended the set that felt too short but I am sure we will be seeing AMORPHIS in the next touring cycle with another awesome album in their luggage.

AMORPHIS setlist:

01. “The Bee”
02. “The Golden Elk”
03. “Silver Bride”
04. “The Four Wise Ones”
05. “Into Hiding”
06. “The Smoke”
07. “Wrong Direction”
08. “Daughter Of Hate”
09. “My Kantele”
10. “Black Winter Day”
11. “Amongst Stars”
12. “House Of Sleep”

AMORPHIS

Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Amorphis @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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Sure, DELAIN are a tad less Metal compared to AMORPHIS but their live performances do not lack of energy or power, so I did not have doubts that the next hour would be equally great like the other times I’ve seen the Dutch live. This time around, DELAIN had more energy with Charlotte Wessels wearing a red-hot jacket kicking off the set with “Burning Bridges”. It would be unfair to credit only Charlotte for pushing the energy in the red zone from the get-go; both bassist Otto and guitarist Timo established a communication channel with the fans in the front rows right from the start and worked hard to get more involved. Although I think they did not have to, because everyone inside The Forge seemed to be enjoying the up-tempo Symphonic Metal of DELAIN. Of course, Martijn did as much as he could as he was spending most of his stage time behind the keyboards, although he approached the edge of the stage in every given chance. “Suckerpunch” got everyone to clap along highlighting the party mood and the presence of solid DELAIN fanbase that I was happy to notice it was comprised of fans from a wide age spectrum. What caught my eye was a father with his daughter singing along almost all the lyrics showcasing at the same time how awesome is Metal music, bridging all the possible gaps humanity likes to create from time to time (genre, politics, age and everything under the sun).

After greeting us, Charlotte Wessels explained why the AMORPHIS drum-kit had remained onstage; “You may have noticed DELAIN have some AMORPHIS onstage”, she said before letting us know that drummer Joey de Boer couldn’t follow the band because of VISA issues. Yeah, this is one of the difficulties bands crossing the Atlantic are facing and before getting onboard the “they should have started the process earlier” whining, know that sometimes the delay is too long... Anyhow, with the AMORPHIS drummer Jan Rechberger pulling double duty, DELAIN did “Fire With Fire” and “Stardust” back to back.

“Thank you so much, we are working on a new album at the moment and it’s actually near completion”, said Charlotte adding a bit more to the high enthusiasm, hinting that next time DELAIN will be touring with brand new songs on the set. In the meantime, we enjoined the groovy “Masters Of Destiny” and watched Martijn starting off the melodic “April Rain” with the relatively slower tempo that happened to be perfect for some clapping-along action. DELAIN’s up-tempo music is an impossible to resist invitation to join in, and this is exactly what happened during the entire performance. I think there was also some mosh-pit action during “Control The Storm” that turned into jumping-along during the keyboard-driven “Don't Let Go”. Does it look awesome when the band and the audience are doing the same thing? The ‘I have to sing-along’ “We Are The Others” got even more action and then saw the band saying a brief goodnight. But not for long; DELAIN returned and experienced a loud and long cheer by the fans. In fact, Charlotte took a step backwards to let everyone “get it over your system” wearing a wide smile showcasing how much she and the rest of the band were enjoying this spontaneous reaction. What did I say about DELAIN having a solid fanbase in the US? The last for the night was “The Gathering” and was a great way to drop the curtain of such a successful billing. Despite missing their drummer, DELAIN gave a great performance, leaving only happy faces leaving the venue. Until next time!

DELAIN setlist:

01. “Burning Bridges”
02. “Suckerpunch”
03. “Fire With Fire”
04. “Stardust”
05. “Masters Of Destiny”
06. “April Rain”
07. “Control The Storm”
08. “Pristine”
09. “Hands Of Gold”
10. “Don't Let Go”
11. “We Are The Others”
12. “The Gathering”

DELAIN

Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ The Forge (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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