Symphony X

support Myrath + Melted Space
author RD date 18/03/16 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

For the return of American metal progressive veterans Symphony X in Denmark, Pumpehuset was sold out already a month before the concert, showing that the American band’s reputation is still strong. They have indeed acquired, throughout the years, the image of a killer live band with their fantastic energy and great performances, especially Russel Allen (probably the best singer in metal today). Symphony X, who presents their last album Underworld, is joined by two other bands, Tunisia’s Myrath and France’s Melted Space. All is set for an epic evening.

Melted Space

Pumpehuset being packed with 600 people, it took a little time to reach the scene so, when I got to see the first band, they had already started their show a few minutes ago. Melted Space sets the tone for the evening with their aggressive brand of progressive metal. Unfortunately, the Frenchmen seem to lack a little something to catch attention, as the musicians are very gifted and the music is overall engaging but it feels a little too generic, as if they tried to hard to match the trends of modern progressive metal with their aggressive vocals for example. For the last song, two female singers play with the band in what seems to be a genuine but cliché attempt to bring some new in the music.

5

Myrath

Next, Myrath comes on the stage to the sound of a symphonic oriental introduction. Drawing their influence from the Arabic traditional music and symphonic metal, Myrath proposes a nice blend of influences carried by a positive energy. Singer Zaher Zorgati is very well at ease and his presence drives the band. The other members are a little more discrete without it being a problem. The more technical moments, especially solos, feel a little vain, and even if I really enjoy progressive music, such demonstrations have never really been something I value. These moments are fortunately quite rare in the Myrath show and the whole band is anyway far from being pretentious, displaying a genuine enjoyment. The audience is very receptive to the band and is already quite numerous. The band fits nicely in the progressive metal scene with a personality of their own coming from the mix of cultures and traditions. At some point, Myrath play samples from traditional instruments and, even if it clearly expands the range of the band, it can seem a little bit of a shame that they did not try to find other ways to render this on stage.

7

Symphony X

After a short break to get some well-deserved drinks, most of the audience is back in front of the main stage of Pumpehuset, but even if the concert is sold out, it does not feel so packed and it is nice to feel that you have space to move around. For the first part of the show, Symphony X chooses to play their latest album, "Underworld", in its entirety and it is a great choice. First of all, the album is a concept story about a man going to hell to rescue his loved one. Even if the story is far from being original, it gives the opportunity for singer Russer Allen and the band to display a very compelling theatricality and, when you agree to suspend your disbelief, you are completely taken in the show in a beautiful manner. The other reason for that choice is that “Underworld” is an album that has been made for concert. Its very memorable tunes and powerful riffs are perfect for the band to display their fantastic energy and for the audience to sing along.

The concert opens with a short symphonic intro, “Overture”, before the band crushes the audience with the powerful “Nevermore”. From the very beginning, Russel Allen’s presence and charisma are still intact. His vocal performance is truly amazing when you consider it has been more than twenty years since he started Symphony X and yet hasn’t lost a bit of his technique and range. To the right of the stage, guitarist Michael Romeo displays his abilities with ease and impresses the crowd with his somewhat nonchalant attitude. If the rest of the musicians do not have the same presence they are the best support for the two frontmen. After the first four tracks of the album, Symphony X releases the pressure a bit with the slower and more emotional “Without You” but the intensity is the same. “Charon” and “To Hell and Back” are the most theatrical songs of the evening as Allen mimes sailing on the boat and switch between different comedia del’arte masks. Unfortunately, the fact that Michael Pinella stays at the back of the music is a small disappointment, the only moment he clearly expresses himself is when he battles with Romeo whose solos are sometimes a little too over the top.

After the rendition of “Underworld”, it is time for Symphony X to play some oldies. Both “Out of the Ashes” and “Sea of Lies” from the album “The Divine Wings of Tragedy” are played with an intense power as well as humour. The public sings along once more and Allen enjoys playing with that. After leaving the stage for a brief moment, it is time for an encore that starts with “Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)”. Allen then jokes about playing “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin which they end up doing. This totally improvised moment in the show, even if it is a little sketchy, is very refreshing and shows a band that really enjoys being here on stage. With the epic “Legend” it is time for Symphony X to leave the stage for good this time.

The evening at Pumpehuset was a clear success for Symphony X (have they even ever disappointed?). Without being fantastically original, the force of the Americans relies on a presence and a great songwriting that is transcendent on stage.

9

Setlist:

  • 1. Overture
  • 2. Play Video
  • 3. Nevermore
  • 4. Underworld
  • 5. Kiss of Fire
  • 6. Without You
  • 7. Charon
  • 8. To Hell and Back
  • 9. In My Darkest Hour
  • 10. Run With the Devil
  • 11. Swan Song
  • 12. The Death of Balance / Lacrymosa
  • 13. Out of the Ashes
  • 14. Sea of Lies

Encore:

  • 15. Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)
  • 16. Immigrant Song (cover from Led Zeppelin)
  • 17. Legend

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