As part of my two-year anniversary present, my boyfriend bought me a ticket to go and see Dutch symphonic metal act Delain play at the Camden KOKO on Sunday 13th November. The KOKO is one of my favourite venues in London, not least because it’s so beautiful. It is also extremely easy to get to, located just outside the Mornington Crescent tube station.
Though I would class myself as a pretty casual Delain fan (I own their two latest albums and a couple of tracks from April Rain, that’s about it), I have heard so many good stories from my friends about how fantastic they are live. The absolute best time to see a band live, in my opinion, is when you are at this middling stage of appreciation, as you can sing along with all your current favourites and at the same time discover some new ones. Some of my greatest musical loves – The White Stripes, Voltaire, Leaves’ Eyes and Kamelot – all won me over to the point of obsession in this way. I am pleased to report that Delain will be joining their ranks; this was without a doubt my favourite gig of 2016!
Before we get stuck into Delain’s performance however, I do wish to mention the two truly excellent support acts that they had with them. The first of these was a heavy metal band hailing from Canada called Kobra And The Lotus (KATL), founded and fronted by vocalist Kobra Paige. A not-unfamiliar face on the symphonic metal scene, Kobra has been touring with Kamelot for the last two years both as a support act during the European Silverthorn tour, and as a guest vocalist on their Haven tour. Due to a lack of functioning cash-machines near the KOKO, I missed the very beginning of KATL’s set, but as soon as I walked into the venue, I was bowled over by the Valkyrie-esque Kobra and her stunning set of pipes. She was an extremely charismatic front-woman and the crowd loved her, even going so far as to boo when she bid them goodbye. I am definitely going to be checking KATL out in my own time, I thought they were great.
The second support act consisted of Swedish progressive metal band, Evergrey. I’m just going to put it out there now that I am not the biggest fan of progressive metal, rock or indeed any genre that favours 10-minute-long, rambling guitar solos. That being said, Evergrey won me over within just a couple of songs despite my initially low expecations. Their eerie, melancholic music combined with soft blue lighting, grey backdrop and Tom S. Eugland’s mournful vocals transported me to a misty churchyard atop a gravestone-riddled hill, bathed in the light of the super moon. The one solo that guitarist Henrik Danhage did indulge in for an extended period of time was wonderfully melodic, beautifully atmospheric and downright gorgeous. I don’t think I will be investigating Evergrey any further, as I found their songs and Eugland’s voice a bit too generic for my tastes, but I did think they were very good nonetheless and by the time they had wrapped up their set, I found myself wondering if Delain were even capable of topping their two excellent supports. Fortunately, this was turned out to be the case!
First things first, here’s Delain’s setlist which, as you can see, leans prettily heavily on their latest album, Moonbathers, with an about-equal spread of crowd-pleasers from the other four:
Intro: The Monarch
- Hands Of Gold
- The Glory And The Scum
- Get The Devil Out Of Me
- Army Of Dolls
- The Hurricane
- April Rain
- Here Come The Vultures
- Fire With Fire
- Danse Macabre
- Sleepwalkers Dream
- Stay Forever
- The Gathering
- Mother Machine
- Don’t Let Go
- We Are The Others
Outro: The Monarch
Show highlights for me included: ‘Suckerpunch’, which I am 100% convinced was written with a live audience in mind as there is just so much opportunity for call and response with the crowd; ‘The Hurricane’, because it was sung so beautifully despite being one of my least favourites on the new album; ‘April Rain’, which is my favourite Delain song for the bridge’s passionate refrain of “It keeps raining, keeps raining” alone; and lastly ‘Don’t Let Go’, in which the audience was encouraged to jump and thrash around as much as possible so that we would become “as hot and as sweaty” as the band on stage.Whilst we did this, singer Charlotte Wessels, bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, and guitarists Timo Somers and Merel Bechtold all bounced around in a circle in unison. Their hair was flying everywhere, the wires from their guitars and microphones got all crossed… It was just so funny and such a joy to behold, and fortunately no one tripped!
On this latter point, there was just so much chemistry fizzing between the band members, with playful interactions left right and centre and smiley happy faces all round. During a rousing rendition of ‘Fire With Fire’ for example, Charlotte appeared to be poking affectionate fun at pocket-rocket Merel Bechtold whenever she sang the lyric, “You will always be much too tall for someone else,” holding a flattened palm above her head whilst Merel pulled a mock-sulky face in response.
In terms of songs I hadn’t heard before, I absolutely loved the druid-esque ‘The Gathering’ and also ‘Pristine’, featuring rare heavy vocals from bassist Otto. Both of these songs were taken from their debut album Lucidity, which turned 10-years old earlier this year and has since been re-released as a special edition. Methinks I might just have to treat myself after Christmas!
All in all, a fantastic evening. The set was delivered with such energy, passion and joy from Delain, which is a perfect reflection of their music. In the crowded world of symphonic metal, Delain stand out for their simplicity, light-heartedness and the fact that they just do not take themselves or their music too seriously.
That’s it for me this year now in terms of gigs. I am unable to make it to Týr on Sunday 23 November after all, as I am off gallivanting in Ireland. My next gig will be Epica at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 3 February 2017. I hope to see some of you there. On the subject of Epica, don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten about Part 2 of my review of The Holographic Principle, which I promise is coming soon. I have in fact, I have written it already, it just needs a few finishing touches.
Ta-ta for now and take care,
Be sure to check out all the bands mentioned above’s official websites:
All photos included in this blog taken by me, except the photo from the stage which was taken by photographer Mark Lloyd, Amplified Gig Photography. I would point out where I am located, but my face is partly obscured by arms!