It was a crisp late fall afternoon on Saturday, November 12, 2016 as I, along with my girlfriend, made our way to The Ritz in Manchester England for the triple threat bill of headliner Delain, Evergrey, and Kobra and the Lotus. We arrived fairly early as I had an interview scheduled with Kobra Paige of Kobra and the Lotus. I made contact with the tour manager and we were led into the venue as Evergrey were doing their soundcheck. I waived hello to my friends, vocalist Tom Englund and guitarist Henrik Danhage who saw me from the stage and we were led into the backstage dressing rooms to conduct my interview with Kobra. It had been a year since I had last interviewed the lovely Ms. Paige when she was the special guest vocalist on Kamelot’s U.S. tour in support of Haven. As aways, Kobra was charming, engaging, and extremely wonderful to speak to. Sadly, our interview ended abruptly as Kobra was called to the stage for their soundcheck. Due to the fact that the band were unable to have a soundcheck at their previous two performances on the tour, it was imperative that Kobra joined her bandmates on stage to make sure everything was perfect for the nights show.
The doors to The Ritz opened at around 6pm and Kobra and the Lotus hit the stage around 6:30pm. The venue was packed with enthusiastic metalheads who were eager to party. The band launched into an all out metal assault, choosing to start with a brand new song, Gotham, from their upcoming new album Prevail. The band were firing on all cylinders with a short, but tight five song set. Frontwoman Kobra Paige commanded the stage like a seasoned veteran as they had the crowd rocking to KATL anthems Soldier (a crowd favorite), the moving ballad Hold On, and new song Triggerpulse. Lead guitarist Jasio Kulakowski showed his impressive shredding skills, as the rhythm section of bassist Brad Kennedy and drummer Marcus Lee held town the bottom end. The set ended much too quickly with the KATL staple, 50 Shades of Evil and the band received a great ovation for their efforts.
Battle of Wrath
50 Shades of Evil
There was a quick changeover and Evergrey hit the stage with a vengeance, starting off with the powerful Passing Through off the bands new album The Storm Within. Lead vocalist/guitarist Tom Englund engaged the crowd jokingly, telling them that it was his first time in Manchester and that he was a huge Manchester United fan (too a chorus of boos from the fans in the audience who were Manchester City fans!). The band concentrated on songs from their newest album along with 2014’s Hymns of the Broken but threw in the great Broken Wings from the album Torn and ended the night with the Evergrey classic A Touch of Blessing and completing the set with King of Errors. The band sounded amazing as usual and seemed to enjoy themselves and the crowd responded in kind. I always enjoy watching Evergrey perform and I found myself wanting more once they were done
Leave it Behind Us
A Touch of Blessing
King of Errors
Delain were up next and the crowd were at a fever pitch as the taped intro, The Monarch, was piped through the sound system. This was my first opportunity to see a true headline set from the Dutch Symphonic Metal sensation, as I was used to seeing them in the U.S. as an opening act for bands like Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, and Kamelot. The first time I was able to see Delain perform was in 2010 at ProgPower USA and through the years and various line up changes, the band has only improved as a recording as well as a live unit, especially with the additions of guitarists Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold, and drummer Ruben Israel.
The band hit the stage and launched into Hands of Gold off of the new critically acclaimed album Moonbathers as lead vocalist Charlotte Wessels sauntered to the stage wearing a glittering gold dress to a huge ovation. Over the years, Wessels has transformed into one of the most charismatic and confident lead singers in the genre and tonight she was on top of her game. The set list relied heavily on the new material but was interspersed with songs from their ten year history, all the way back to their debut, Lucidity. The crowd was pumped to hear classics like April Rain, Sleepwalkers Dream, The Gathering, and Stay Forever as well as newer favorites Valley of the Dolls, Get The Devil Out of Me, and Here Come The Vultures.
The bandmates, Somers, Bechtold, and Otto Schimmelpenninck put on an impressive show and band conductor/keyboardist Martijn Westerholt kept the symphonic elements grandiose and powerful. The set was tightand paced extremely well as Delain held the crowd firmly in the palm of their collective hand.
By the time the bands 15 song set came to a close, the audience was begging for more and the band were, of course, willing to oblige, performing rousing reditions of Mother Machine, Don’t let Go, and the bands anthem to the outsiders, We Are The Others brought the night to a climactic and satisfying end.
Delain have already proven they are more than capable to be a headliner on any stage in the world and coming this Spring, the band finally get their chance as they will join Hammerfall on a co-headlining trek of North America. I look forward to seeing them again as their fanbase continues to grow.
Hands of Gold
The Glory and the Scum
Get the Devil Out of Me
Army of Dolls
Here Come the Vultures
Fire with Fire
Don’t Let Go
We Are the Others
Photos courtesy of https://aestheticmagazinetoronto.com/2016/11/13/photos-delain-evergrey-kobra-and-the-lotus-o2-ritz-manchester/