My love affair with Progressive Power Metalers Evergrey began, as most love affairs tend to do, completely by accident. The year was 1999 and US legends Crimson Glory visited my native country Greece in order to promote their latest album “Astronomica”. The designated support band of the night were Evergrey who, according to many, myself included, blew the headliners completely off stage, winning many new fans in the process.
Over the years I have been actively following the band’s career – a career that seemed to be stalling at some stage but which is now properly back on track following the release of the sensational “Hymns For The Broken” late last year.
Excited by the prospect of witnessing a hopefully killer performance by one of Metal’s most gifted live bands, I headed to north London and the welcoming bosom of The Underworld.
Having conducted a very enjoyable interview with Evergrey’s returning lead guitarist Henrik Danhage, I made my way inside the venue in time to see Awake By Design, the first opening band of the show, hit the stage.
Heavily influenced by classic Hard Rock formulae but with a sound an attitude normally found in classic Power Metal bands, the sextet stormed the venue’s Lilliputian stage with much enthusiasm, trying their best to engage and interact with Evergrey’s loyal fans.
Though energy and passion were not missing from the band’s performance, the truth of the matter is that, two songs down their set, the music began sounding repetitive and lacking that magic ingredient that divides the average from the truly special.
Steve Smyth’s One Machine seems to be the band that opens most gigs at the Underworld these days and that has to do with the guitarist’s impressive CV which includes contributions with the likes of Dragonlord, Testament, Nevermore and Vicious Rumors, amongst others.
Riff driven and with great emphasis on Mikkel Sandager’s Power Metal vocals, the opening track “The Distortion Of Lies and the Overdriven Truth” enabled Smyth to offer us the first set of flamboyant and technically demanding solos while warming up the crowd in the process.
Layered and thematically varied in nature, songs like “Armchair Warrior” really got the crowd going while “Last Star Alights” proved that there are many interesting sides to the band’s music.
The one thing I noticed, much to my delight, during my interview with Henrik was the amazing atmosphere ever-present inside the band’s tour bus. These guys in Evergrey are clearly happy being together again and that great vibe was definitely replicated the moment Evergrey hit the stage and began their set with a rendition of the already classic opus “King Of Errors”.
With Tom S.Englund in great spirits and an even greater vocal form the band continued its set with the dynamic head-banging opus “Leave It Behind Us” while the equally intense “The Fire” enabled ex-Therion bassist Johan Niemann to prove his great skills on the four string.
While not the most impressive theme ever recorded by this band, “Monday Morning Apocalypse” nevertheless received a good reaction by the crowd but nothing in comparison to the glorious reception that was given to both “Black Undertow” and “The Masterplan” – the latter featuring an amazing guitar solo by the band’s towering front man.
It was at this stage of the set that the band’s performance reached its peak, powered by the magical riffs and melodies of “Mark Of The Triangle”, “Blinded” and “Solitude Within”. Moody and introspective in equal measure, “Wake A Change” and “I’m Sorry” electrified the atmosphere in ways that none of their heavier siblings were capable of and the band’s main set was concluded with Rikard Zander performing a piano version of “Missing You” to which Tom added his deeply emotional trademark vocal lines, much to the crowd’s delight.
The band’s return to the stage moments after was heralded by another melody-driven piece in the shape of “When The Walls Go Down” and while the follow-up “Recreation Day” kept a steady but relatively low tempo, the temperature inside the venue rose significantly during the performance of “A Touch Of Blessing” while “The Grand Collapse” concluded things in a pretty impressive manner.
Professional, dynamic, powerful, emotional…these are all adjectives fitting to describe the type of show that the members of Evergrey performed for us on the evening of the 20th of June – a show that will stay in the memory of the author of this review for months to come.
One thing I would wish for, however, is to have these Swedes perform at a bigger and better equipped venue next time they decide to ‘assault’ our shores, preferably in support of a new album even more impressive than “Hymns For The Broken”!
Support Acts: Awake By Design, One Machine
Review and photos by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Evergrey Set List:
- “The Awakening”
- “King Of Errors”
- “Leave It Behind Us”
- “The Fire”
- “Monday Morning Apocalypse”
- “Black Undertow”
- “The Masterplan”
- “Mark Of The Triangle”
- “Solitude Within”
- “Wake A Change”
- “A New Dawn”
- “I’m Sorry [Dilba cover]”
- “Missing You”
- “When The Walls Go Down”
- “Recreation Day”
- “Broken Wings”
- “A Touch Of Blessing”
- “The Grand Collapse”
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