Review: Delain, Evergrey, Kobra And The Lotus – Classic Grand, Glasgow

Dutch symphonic rockers Delain celebrate their tenth year with a jam packed itinerary, culminating in a massive homecoming gig this December, which will be filmed for a live DVD. New album ‘Moonbathers’ was released earlier this year to approving nods from fans and critics alike, so how would the new songs slot in alongside the perennial fan favourites? Before that, we had the not-so-small matter of this evening’s supporting acts. Sounding like a pre-PC gag, “These Dutch, Swedes, Canadians (with an American) walk into an old porno theatre in Glasgow on a baltic Wednesday night…”, the three bands on show brought varying degrees of heaviness that was rewarded with a packed out crowd. When Canadians Kobra and the Lotus took to the stage, the venue was starting to fill up quite nicely, despite the early stage time of 6.30pm. There’s a healthy smattering of Kobra fans on the barriers, and the band’s arrival is met with horns up. If you have yet to acquaint yourself with vocalist Kobra Paige, then do so. Her range is stupendous, and recalls memories of ‘British Steel’ era Rob Halford. It’s metal through and through, old school, when tags like ‘power metal’ didn’t exist, and everything was much simpler. New album(s) ‘Prevail’ will be released in two parts during 2017, and ‘Triggerpulse’ is already out there in the virtual world. Featuring a stunning vocal from Kobra, it spreads out live, as the riffs are ramped up. Perfect head banging material, that’s for sure, as the guy to my left is proving. Older material is greeted vociferously, none more so than the epic, ‘Soldier’. Bouncing and galloping, it even gets the merch guy banging his head like a loon. We salute you, sir! For many, Swedes Evergrey were new to them. Besides the Evergrey T-shirts in the crowd, the majority were encountering Tom S Englund and co for the first time. By the time their set ended though, these guys had very nearly stolen the show. A great combination of light and dark, Evergrey can play the heavier material yet still remain melodic and emotional. Englund is a massive presence. Imagine, if you will, The Undertaker in all his WWE glory, stalking the stage with a guitar in his hands, the stark lighting only adding to the scenario. The set begins with ‘Passing Through’, from the new album ‘The Storm Within’, the murky sound initially plays havoc with Englund’s vocals, but it soon settles down and the big man is heard loud and clear. Although Englund is quite a frontman, it’s guitarist Henrik Danhage that piques my interest. That guy can play, and he even gets a brief solo later on in the set. Through songs like ‘A Touch of Blessing’ and ‘In Orbit’, the band quickly turn strangers into new friends. Evergrey need to get back over quickly for a headline tour!
As ‘The Monarch’ pipes in through the PA, drummer Ruben Israel took his place, and begins to batter the life out of his kit. One by one, the other members of Delain took to the small stage and steamroller into ‘Hands Of Gold’, the opening track off this year’s ‘Moonbathers’ album. Vocalist Charlotte Wessels delayed her entrance until she was ready to deliver the opening few lines. It’s a simple act in building anticipation, but it worked. One of the heavier, faster tracks on the album, it sounded massive live. Wessels vocals are staggering, especially during the galloping chorus. It was the beginning of a ‘Moonbathers’ trio, as it led into both ‘Suckerpunch’ and ‘The Glory And The Scum’, two very different sounding sides to Delain. The first being a perfect slice of bouncing, catchy melodic rock, whilst the second is much darker, and showcased Charlotte’s full range. It’s not just the vocalist that impressed though, as each member plays an important part in the sound. The guitar interplay between Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold was a pleasure to watch. They were ever-smiling, and seemed to enjoy feeding off each other. A perfect example being when they went toe to toe on the intro to ‘Danse Macabre’ and produce a wall of riffs. Even though he was restricted being behind his keyboards, Martijn Westerholt pounded them into submission in a great visual display. Then there’s the all important engine room team of Otto and Ruben, the unsung heroes of the band. The set was a fantastic mix of Delain gems from the last ten years, as the band crammed as much as they could into a 90 minute set. It’s a testament to the strength of the new material that they slot in perfectly alongside favourites such as ‘Here Come The Vultures’, ‘Army Of Dolls’ and, of course, ‘The Gathering’. For me, the song of the evening was ‘The Hurricane’, a highlight off ‘Moonbathers’, it sounded incredible live. Unleashed from the confines of the studio, it’s more expansive, with impassioned vocals from Wessels. Hardcore fans were rewarded with a gorgeous version of ‘Stay Forever’, but the inclusion of ‘Pristine’ in the set seemed to get the loudest screams. ‘We Are The Others’ closed the show and sent the crowd home with their ears ringing from a spellbinding night of music. Wessels is a commanding presence onstage. She says jump – the crowd jumps, she says put your hands up – the crowd puts them up, it’s like a metalized boot camp led by an Amazon warrior princess. She’s very theatrical and expressive, easily someone who could tread the boards on Broadway, but for now she’s leading a band that I rate higher than Within Temptation and Nightwish. Hard work and quality output got those bands in the enviable position that they are in now, and surely it is time for Delain to take their rightful place alongside them on the largest stages in the world?
Review – Dave Stott Photography – Aaron Bird [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photosets' photoset_id='72157660671581418' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='29' layout='random' ]

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