Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Within Temptation, partially unplugged

Within Temptation at the Koningin-Elisabeth Saal, Antwerpen 28.4.2010

I just about caught the tail end of the second run of Within Temptation’s “theatre tour,” so by this time I already had the resulting CD “An acoustic night at the theatre” and was kind of expecting a live rendition of the CD. Although the programme started much like this CD (Towards the end, stand my ground, somewhere), it turned out to be much more. In fact, the acoustic set was interspersed with an equal number of pieces in full-on inferno mode, so we got two full hours of music (and thankfully, no support act!).

While the acoustic equipment included two guitars, piano, cello, and violin, the acoustic set wasn’t completely unplugged either, as the bass was still electric. One could feel immediately that some of the musicians and large parts of the audience weren’t quite comfortable with the low-voltage part of the programme. I saw one of the guitarists was fidgeting so much I had the impression he wanted to jump up and start headbanging. I, for one, think the music of the band would work well in an even more drastically unplugged version, eg in an MTV unplugged programme, with a few more interesting instruments.

Everybody’s attempts to stay in their seats faltered just before the half-time break, when the electric guitars came out, and the hard-core fans streamed to the edge of the stage. The second half alternated between acoustic and electric parts, with fans flooding forwards and being shooed back to their seats accordingly.

One of the bonus features of the event was to observe the violinist and the cellist during the louder parts of the concert. At one time they put on helmets (builders’, not motorcyclists’) as if they feared the building would collapse. At another time, one of the other musicians appeared to be instructing them in the high art of playing an instrument while jumping up and down. I certainly haven’t seen any cellist trying that before.

The background video projection was apparently shown on some sort of semi-transparent gaze, making it hard to distinguish between things that were real but behind the screen and those in the videos. Duet partner Anneke van Giersbergen appeared to walk in at the back of the stage but turned out to be a projection, while the cellist, violinist, and second drummer working behind the gaze initially looked a bit two-dimensional but turned out to be real.

For anybody who missed this experience, I recommend the live package “Black Symphony,” a recording of a one-off concert with the Metropol Orchestra and a large choir – the best and most generous live CD/DVD pack I own. I’m still hitting myself because I missed that concert when it happened.

PS didn’t get very good pictures from row 8, but here’s the stage before the concert (no idea where they hid the amps and everything, the big sound just came out of nowhere):

And here’s singer Sharon den Adel:

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