So on a wet Saturday afternoon you would think there would be nothing to do in Bilston, west of Birmingham?
Dames of Darkness festival was the brainchild of David Homer and Paul Collins of ‘Apparition’ who back in 2007 decided to put on a festival which featured female fronted bands.
Over the years since then the festival happened in various guises including ‘Femme Metal Festival’ and now after a few years break David has brought the festival back to the Robin 2 and also with the promise that ‘Delain’ will be the event headliners. The event was a 1 day festival and brought together some of the best female fronted bands from around Europe.
Compere for the day is the sometimes comical but mostly mad Jim Beerman presenter/owner/big boss man for Top Rock Radio. As the doors open at 2pm there is already a decent sized crowd filling the room and the beer is already flowing well for an afternoon session.
Incarna have the unwelcome task of being the 1st band on today but they should have no problem as a decent crowd has already amassed. The UK based band fronted by Emily Jane are a 4 piece band from the Wycombe area. Powerful guitar lines by Mitch (Bass) and Rik (Lead) provide a base for the outstanding vocals of Emily Jane and they play a very good set which was a great way to start the day.
Next are a personal favorite of mine in Chemikill, these midlands based metallers are more on the heavy side of classic Heavy Metal. Natalie’s voice biting though both high and sublime and rough growl throughout the set. They have been around the scene for over 20 years now and are due to play a number of dates over the next few months.
Ex-Libris are a Dutch based heavy metal band and it’s the first time I’d seen or heard them. Fronted by Dianne van Giersbergen who has a formidable and powerful voice they have a full sound thanks to the drumming of Eelco van der Meer and the keyboards of Koen Stam who is all over his keyboard. They play a great set and go down very well with me and the crowd.
Possibly the most visual of the female vocalists today is Jamie Lee from Azylya who comes onstage in a white leather catsuit and a silvered mask and for the first few numbers dances at the front of the stage with the blond hair blowing in a fan. The Belgian based band is not really my type of music but go down well with the crowd.
The other band that just didn’t work for me was the Paris based Whyzdom, while very good musically and vocally the symphonic sound was just too far out for my personal liking but again I will say that I was in the minority as they went down very well with the crowd and played a very good set.
The next two bands I have not seen before and both were a pleasant surprise, Apparition, a Midlands based band and also featuring David Homer and Paul Collins the organisers of the whole show. The current band is fronted by Sakara Marshall and they play a great tight set.
Visions of Atlantis, an Austrian based symphonic power metal band, are the only ones today with dual vocalist in the form of Mario Plank and Maxi Nil who play off each other during the set. Promoting their fifth album Ethera they give a great powerful set that is certainly to my liking.
When headliners Delain come to the stage the venue is packed and they are welcomed by a huge cheer. The Dutch symphonic metallers are currently touring their latest album ‘Interlude’ a mix of new songs and live versions of previous work.
The set kicks off with ‘Mother Machine’ and right from the off Charlotte Wessels voice powered through the music and held the crowd. Throughout the set the fans were singing along and were obviously really enjoying the music.
As the main set concluded with ‘Not Enough’ it was clear that the crowd hadn’t had enough as the cheers and foot stamping for more rang out. So we finally got out first encore of the day and were treated to three final songs and I think ‘The Gathering’ got the biggest emotive reaction from the crowd over the day.
Well – what a great event it has been today excellent music/fans and venue, the organisers have no doubt gained a lot more followers today who will be waiting for an announcement for the next instalment of The Dames Of Darkness.
Delain Setlist: Mother Machine, Stay Forever, Go Away, Milk and Honey, Virtue and Vice, See Me in Shadow, Electricity, Invidia, Pristine, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Sever, Get the Devil Out of Me, April Rain, Sleepwalkers Dream, Not Enough
Encore: Control the Storm, The Gathering, We Are the Others
Review and photos by Simon Dunkerley
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