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Rock juggernauts Evanescence played their final date of an extensive European tour last night, to a packed out audience at London’s Hammersith Eventim Apollo.
This was the culmination of a tour for their latest album Synthesis, which was released in November last year. The album is an ambitious project by the band, as they looked back over their discography, and reworked songs with the accompaniment of an orchestra. The album also featured two brand new tracks, titled ‘Imprefection’, and ‘Hi-Lo’.
This isn’t the first time that Amy Lee and co. have experimented with stripping back their typical operatic sound, but this has normally been in an acoustic capacity, rather than orchestral.
Lead vocalist and pianist Amy Lee said prior to this tour that “This will be our first time touring with orchestra and I’m so excited to perform this way-really focus on the vocals, and the emotion and the story we’ve built over the years.”
The band has taken electronic equipment on the road with them, as well as collaborating and arranging with local orchestras, and the electronic effect on the drumkit proves a little challenging in the early parts of the set, as it threatens to drown out the sound of the strings section during songs like ‘Never Go Back’, and ‘Lacrymosa.’ No songs are affected enough as to sound outright bad, but the early set threatens to impinge on the night’s novelty, when the electronic instruments are so strikingly loud.
One constant, however, is the consistent excellence of Amy Lee’s vocals. Even with the drums at their most intrusive, Lee can carry the entire performance, bouncing off both her bandmates and the orchestra around her, harmonising excellently with guitarist/backing vocalist Jen Majura.
The crowd is fully invested in the aims of the band, remaining respectfully silent during pretty much every song, before going wild in between tracks, to show their appreciation.
Fan favourite ‘Bring Me to Life’ comes surprisingly early in the set, illustrating the Lee and co. are intent on performing Synthesis in as grand a way as possible, rather than simply looking to play their hits. An extension of the song’s ending with Lee’s skeletal, solo piano motif matches very well with the strings section, transition superbly into ‘Unravelling.’
From here the set kicks into another gear, simultaneously becoming more stripped back, yet more dynamic, with more emphasis being put on the live orchestra, to excellent effect.
The pounding electronic drums do make a return, but in a far less dominant fashion, being a welcome accompaniment to the set, rather than a distraction. An incendiary rendition of ‘Lost in Paradise,’ is probably the gig’s highest point, swelling gloriously to its crescendo. It could be argued to be better in this arrangement than in it’s original form from 2011’s self-titled album, and stands out as the best illustration of Evanescence’s aims in this project.
A traditionally intimate ‘My Immortal’ follows soon after, with Lee dedicating the song to those in attendance, recognising the new meaning the track has taken on for her since she first wrote the song over a decade ago.
Ultimately, Evanescence’s experiment works-potentially more in a live environment than on an album- and the band must be given credit for (literally) orchestrating the whole thing to such an accomplished level. Lee and her bandmates pay tribute to their orchestra after the encore, who were truly outstanding all night, and all on stage take a bow for the greatly appreciative audience. This date at the Hammersmith Apollo was added due to popular demand, and based on this set, it’s easy to see why.