Evanescence returns to Australia after a few years’ hiatus with a new sound that I can only describe as one electric orchestra machine. The latest album and tour, Synthesis combines a selection of records revisited along with a couple new entries into the catalog. It focuses on a new sound setting it somewhat apart from what had become their traditional goth metal niche.
Brisbane is the first stop on the Synthesis Live World Tour outside of the USA. The venue itself, the Great Hall at Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre is one that allows for a large audience with a great sense of intimacy for performers. This connection showed and worked well in Evanescence’s favour. All seating and no mosh pit set the precedent that this was no average rock gig, more befitting of its concerto style.
Reflecting the orchestral and classical influences on this new direction, is the addition of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. On each tour stop, Evanescence is accompanied by the local orchestra. QSO also take the place of support act, performing a few classical renditions starting with Moonlight Sonata. As if to symbolize the rosy Queensland sunset we had on the way there, the backdrop was lit with a distinct dusty pink, theatrical smoke ebbing from the sides of stage. After performing Lacrimosa, QSO sink their teeth into the world of Nightmare Before Christmas with Sally’s Song. This holds particular significance, as Amy Lee (Evanescence lead singer/writer/co-founder) had covered this number on the Nightmare Revisited album for Disney. Alas as this was a support act segment, Lee didn’t perform this song alongside the orchestra and was thus instrumental but whimsical all the same.
Enter cellist, Dave Eggar, who decides to rock the house with the orchestra by performing the most unique and amazing cover of AC/DC’s Back in Black. He was outstanding and I will not think of Back in Black in quite the same terms ever again. Any other cover will never stand quite up. The audience kept shouting for more. The Evanescence band members were equally mesmerized, watching on from the side of stage at the sound desk. He even did a solid solo Jaws Theme for fun. Then after one final bow out, house lights on for an intermission before Evanescence takes the stage.
After the intermission, QSO return on stage with Amy Lee walking on from one side and Evanescence band members from the other. She strides her way to the piano on her side straight under spotlight and to the delight of fans, starting with Overture as any classical concerto or theatrical production would. The band are seated in their spots as opposed to standing like you would expect. This would suggest a more relaxed vibe for them. Amy Lee is every bit as theatrical as the music, dressed in trademark flowy black, throwing her long dark mane from front to back, side to side. Audience sang along to the next number, Never Go Back with much gusto.
Whenever Amy Lee took opportunity to speak, she consistently professed her love for her fans and for the audience. Few taking the opportunity to scream back with their devotion and love. The musical arrangement and set list sequence would occasionally bounce from orchestra to band, both and back again. That musical arrangement was really the heart of the Synthesis album and tour. It gave new life to fan favorites like End of the Dream and Lithium.
The real test of such an idea really lied in their breakout hit Bring Me To Life alongside other Fallen songs. There is still phenomenal passion for these songs from the fans, audience belting out the lyrics with Lee. Lee is the ultimate vocal powerhouse, which has not changed since that breakout hit. She matches and even tops her studio record voice herself live.
Evanescence then mixes it up with the first of the two new songs, Hi-Lo in between the aforementioned Fallen and The Open Door entries. It is a good fit to the theatrical style of Evanescence and takes cues from previous works, whilst having some newer electronica sounds.
Then of course, there is that other monster hit My Immortal, of which Amy Lee confesses, that she hated originally. However, as time has gone on, she had grown to accept it as it is part of her journey and decided for that reason, it needed to be revisited for the album and tour. There were hands swaying and again, much singing along albeit gentler by the audience to fit the tone. Many phones were pulled out for the moment, clearly it’s a number that resonates with a lot of people.
The set ends with the second of the two new additions, Imperfection with a focus more heavily on orchestral sound than the band. Evanescence leaving the stage but with house lights still down, await the inevitable encore, of which they perform a further three numbers. Again though, these numbers are more orchestral focused than band, whom returns to stage less immediately for these reasons. The encore starts with Amy Lee’s soloist song, Speak To Me and QSO further accompanies with Good Enough. The band finally joins in fully with Swimming Home, ending the night with a standing ovation.
Evanescence continues their Synthesis tour with two Sydney concerts and one in Melbourne on February 13th, 14th and 16th respectively before starting their Europe leg in March.
Review Contributed by Sarah Minazzo
GALLERY BY JOHN CHARLES