By Mark Derricutt
Date / Venue: Wednesday March 16th, 2016 - The Studio, Auckland
I think I've tried writing this review at least five times now, and every time I seem to come up short with ways the describe just what it was I experienced without resorting to bad puns like "it was epic-a", but since I've just dropped that pun I think I've just decided to go with it.
The night started with Australian (Perth) progressive/power metal band Voyager delivering what was to be one of the years highlights on their own. I've long thought they ( along with many other high quality Australian progressive bands ) should tour/play here, but to see them back to back with Epica was truly a night to be reckoned with.
Voyager certainly know how to work a crowd with the energetic, and enigmatic front man Danny Estrin making his way all over the stage corralling the audience as guitarist Simone Dow lays down riff, solo, and riff again to the rhythmic backing of Alex Canion (bass), Scott Kay (guitars) and Ashley Doodkorte (drums) - and if the crowd hadn't already been worked into a frenzy then breaking into a partial rendition of Sandstorm by Darude certainly made those around go nuts.
Voyager - Setlist
● Momentary Relapse of Pain ( The Meaning of I )
● You, the Shallow ( V )
● Fire of the Times ( The Meaning of I )
● Misery Is Only Company
● Lost/Darude ( I Am The Revolution )
● Hyperventilating ( V )
● The Morning Light ( V )
● The Meaning of I ( The Meaning of I )
Following the departing Voyager the air inside The Studio was that filled with an electric sense of anticipation - the feeling and vibe of those attending clearly offsetting what to me, seemed like a fairly low turnout to the show with the crowd only packing the front half of the venue - ultimately I think this proved to be beneficial as there was ample room to move and dance around without being squashed - at times I think The Studio pushes beyond its' capacity.
Epica hit the stage with a set made up mostly of material from their 2014 release The Quantum Enigma whilst including a solid range of songs covering their expanding catalogue.
In a somewhat male dominated genre (especially in the subset of artists we have touring New Zealand), I was duly impressed with front woman Simone Simons. Not only does she have the looks, but more than that she has the power and confidence that just commands the stage whilst still being able to let her guard down and enjoy the show, sharing onstage antics with fellow band members and seemingly having just as much fun performing as we were watching.
Seeing keyboardist Coen Janssen perform with his custom NUmotion REVO 1 Curveboard was just bizarre and intriguing - in a similar fashion to drummers. I've always felt bad for keyboardists who are more often than not trapped behind their instrument hidden away from the audience, so it was a joy to see Coen employ both a rotating stand along with this bizarre spectacle of an instrument - allowing him free reign of both the stage, and The Studio's bar as he worked his way beyond the stage.
But let's go back to the music and the show - the blending of clean, operatic vocals with those of harsh death metal growls has always been something I'd never have first thought would fit together, but with the music to guide it the odd juxtaposition of styles somehow work - it's a fine balance that could easily fall apart but Epica seem to have found the sweet spot that really sets together nicely - taking their music to that next level.
So now that I've waxed lyrical for too long - let's just sum it all up with that bad pun once again:
Epica were… EPIC A
Epica - Setlist
● Originem ( The Quantum Enigma )
● The Second Stone ( The Quantum Enigma )
● The Essence of Silence ( The Quantum Enigma )
● Sensorium ( The Phantom Agony )
● Unleashed ( Design Your Universe )
● Martyr of the Free World ( Design Your Universe )
● Storm the Sorrow ( Requiem for the Indifferent )
● Cry for the Moon ( The Phantom Agony )
● The Obsessive Devotion ( The Divine Conspiracy )
● Victims of Contingency ( The Quantum Enigma )
● Unchain Utopia ( The Quantum Enigma )
● Design Your Universe ( Design Your Universe )
Click the link below for live photos from Epica's Auckland show!