Review: Paradise Lost – The Mill, Bradford

It’s strange times that we’re living in. 2020 will be a year we’ll all remember, possibly not fondly, and certainly not for the number of gigs that we’ve attended. If you’re like me, where live music is a large part of your life, you’ll be missing meeting up with friends and visiting your local venues. For the music industry these aren’t the best of times either but some bands are adjusting to this new reality and making the most of it by finding new opportunities. They say necessity is the mother of invention and harnessing streaming technology, to deliver live events into the living rooms of fans, is a creative solution to the problems of not being able to play live.

While some people might not be keen to fork out their hard-earned cash to sit in their living room watching TV, it isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It does have it’s advantages. You’re already at the venue, there’s no need to travel (in my case it’s usually about a 2 hour round trip). The bar is much cheaper, it doesn’t take you 20 minutes of waving your arms around to get the attention of bar staff, and nobody’s urinated all over the seat of the toilet (this of course depends on who you live with). It does feel a bit odd though lying down to watch a gig on my sofa, a Baileys in one hand, while stroking my cat with the other.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen “Paradise Lost” live. I first saw them back in the early 90’s possibly around the time they released “Shades of God” or “Icon”. I’ve seen them doing headline shows, at festivals, as a support band, and even when they played a secret warm-up gig, under a different name, at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. This however will be the first streaming show I’ve seen them do. These pioneers of gothic metal have recently released their sixteenth studio album, the critically acclaimed: “Obsidian”. Normally a tour would follow but this streamed show is the closest we are going to get to one for a while.

I’ve seen a few live streaming shows and they all work slightly differently. This one is via “StageIt”. They have the main part of the screen for the gig and a scrolling message board on the right-hand side where fans can proclaim such things as “Hello from Norway”, “AS I DIEEEEEE!!!” and “I can play this one on the guitar”. After around 5 seconds I managed to completely ignore this thankfully. Unfortunately, there’s no option for a full-screen mode but I quickly got used to the smaller screen area.

Almost on the dot of 8pm, the guys kick off with “Widow” from their 1993 classic album “Icon”. I would have expected something from the new album to open the show but I’m more than happy to see this one in the set. To say the sound is amazing is an understatement. It’s almost album quality and much better than you might hear if you saw them, or any other band, live. The rehearsal studio, “The Mill”, that they’re performing in is all painted black. Indeed black seems to be the colour theme for the evening. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all black. The band are all dressed in black. All the guitars are black (apart from a white pickguard on the bass). If music had a colour the dark doomy sound of Paradise Lost would surely match this too.

Nick Holmes vocals sound awesome. Indeed the performances of all the band members can’t be faulted. Being that they are in a rehearsal room, and not on stage, there isn’t a lot of moving around but the guys moodily play their brand of doom metal to perfection. If you were ever looking to learn a drum or guitar part this would be a great video to learn from. Unlike a normal live DVD, where video footage is often taken from a distance to include some of the crowd and the whole stage, multiple cameras have instead been set-up with close-ups of each band member. When there’s a guitar solo you can see every note on the fretboard being played which is great.

One thing that I found lacking in the performance is that there’s no chatting between songs. When I watched the Candlemass Live stream it was the same. This could be due to technical limitations, I really don’t know, but it would have been nice for Nick to have introduced some of the songs.

Unsurprisingly the album to feature most heavily in the setlist is “Obsidian”. “Fall from Grace”, “Ghosts”, and “Darker Thoughts” all fit seamlessly amongst classic tracks from earlier albums. One of the highlights for me was a stunning rendition of “Shadowkings” from my favourite Paradise Lost album: “Draconian Times”. Unfortunately this was the only song to be played from this one. I was also surprised that, another favourite of mine, “Say Just Words” was not included. With only a 16 song set however, it’s difficult to fit everything in.

If you bought the standard package for the show you would have experienced the first 13 songs (which was an hour set). There was then a short interlude followed by extra footage for those with the VIP package (i.e. 3 extra songs and also an interview which amounted to an extra hour of material).

Before the interview begins the band finish up what’s been an incredible evening of music with “Darker Thoughts”. Very nice track from the new album which sounds as good live as it does on the album. Great performance tonight from the band.

I have to say it was well worth getting the VIP package. The 45-minute interview with the band members was great to see. All questions came from the fans themselves and the guys talked about song-writing, album artwork, cover songs, how they’ve never used a Boss HM-2 pedal, their aspirations for movie soundtrack writing, the possibility of a Jurassic Park concept album, and a lot more. Very entertaining.

I hope to see the band live again soon but this was the next best thing. There are much worse ways to spend an evening than watching one of your favourite bands play a set of classic songs. If you haven’t tried a streaming gig yet then I’d recommend that you give it a go. Great night.

Purchase event merchandise here.

Review – Martin Patterson

Photo credits – Anne C. Swallow

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