Within Temptation

support Triggerfinger
author TL date 25/10/11 venue Falkoner Salen, Copenhagen, DEN

It's Tuesday, October 25th. Jill and I are at Radisson Blu Falconer Hotel & Conference Center in uptown Copenhagen. It's our first time here and we're headed for the biggest room at the heart of the complex, known to the public as the stage called Falkoner Theatre. We're here to check out Dutch symphonic metal institution Within Temptation, who were originally meant to play the nearby venue KB Hallen, but seeing as that place recently burnt down, the organisers had scrambled to relocate the concert to here. Having never been here before, we initially spend some time finding our way through the crowd, finding our way through a security check and finding the press table, the wardrobe and the bar, and as a result, the support set from Antwerp-based rock'n'roll trio Triggerfinger is already well underway by the time I'm done complaining about the high beer prices and actually enter the venue.

Triggerfinger

Now, speaking of Triggerfinger, my first impression seeing the three grey, suit-wearing, distinguished men brandishing their instruments, is that someone must've taken Queens Of The Stone Age's grand fathers and put them in a band. Later visits to the band's facebook page seems to indicate that the guys aren't actually all that old, but from the floor of Falconer Salen, singer/guitarist Ruben Block and bassist 'Monsieur Paul' look like a slimmer Sean Connery and a rounder Paul Shaffer. While the latter of the too may indeed take a relative relaxed approach, staying in his power stance while delivering his grooves, Block is sweating profusely, rocking out intensely while dishing out the riffs and melodies of the band's dirty, relentless, oldschool rock'n'roll. The crowd, which initially seems a bit at odds in trying to figure out what to think, soon warms up to the vigorous and engaging approach of the band who are taking their roles as entertainers quite seriously, encouraging clapping and singing along as much as possible. The music itself has energy and drive, yet doesn't reveal too much by way of remarkable hooks to new listerners, but apart from that Triggerfinger really do a surprisingly commendable job at warming the crowd up, showing more experience and charisma than the many young bands often relegated to a similar role.

7

Within Temptation

We get a long enough break to have time for runs to both the bar and the bathroom, but eventually the lights dim and the massive logo-ordained banner that has been teasing us from the back of the stage lowers, revealing a screen on which a dark, cinematic short film preludes the show, setting a sinister atmosphere alá that of the first Underworld movies. Already at this turn, skeptics would like comment on the melodramatic, corny nature of such an introduction, but then skeptics aren't really likely to be here, and personally, I like how the video primes us all for a show that might immerse us in the fantasy-inspired moods of Within Temptation's music. Unfortunately, as the band comes on and opens with "Shot In The Dark" and "In The Middle Of The Night", the light show immediately lights the room up bright as day, dispersing the darkness and reminding us immediately that in reality, we're still just standing in a room full of ordinary people drinking beer from plastic cups. Furthermore, as theatrical as the film was, as casual are Within Temptation's members in appearance. Not that I was expecting battle armor or corpsepaint, but still, the point of the film seems lost as soon as its over.

On the flipside, Falkoner Theatre is proving to be an acoustic upgrade compared to the originally intended venue KB Hallen, because singer Sharon den Adel's vocals, which are naturally the most prominent element in the mix, resound clear from the stage, with the crowd easily being able to hear the words and sing along while they also feel the delightful oomph of the drums. Den Adel and her bandmembers prove that they are every bit as serious as Triggerfinger when it comes to being entertaining and engaging, looking charismatic and happy to be here, as they span the width of the stage as well as a long platform in the back, smiling at the audience and encouraging people to pump fists, show horns and clap hands. Again though, I feel like the approach looks a bit dispassionate and ordinary in front of a screen that is continuing to show some seriously dramatic footage with animations that look like something from World Of Warcraft and video sequences of warrior angels having their wings surgically removed. Furthermore, as good as the acoustics in this place are, the mix favours the drums and vocals much too heavily, with the keyboards and guitars relegated to the background except when they occasionally get turned up in time for a solo. This I feel is a huge shame, because one of the things that were most appealing about the band's most recent album were the details of the carefully crafted compositions.

The focus then, lies clearly on den Adel's powerful vocals, so much in fact that the band has opted to err on the side of caution by playing with a backing track of her recorded performances. Clearly, she sings most all of the lyrics herself as well, and does quite well at that, but her own notes are not always extended as far as on the backing track, and the attentive listener will both hear her take breaks on occasion when scaling the stairs to the platform, or going a bit shrill in the high notes. Normally I'd say that such an approach is light years less impressive than one in which a singer actually does sing her own songs live, but given that den Adel is only about half a year removed from having a child, I'll cut her some slack because such an ordeal likely doesn't make it any easier keeping ones pipes in prime shape.

While I'm busily making such critical observations, Within Temptation are dishing out tracks in disciplined fashion, delivering hits such as "Stand Your Ground" and "Ice Queen" to a crowd that seems fairly appreciative. Most tracks are met with solid singing and clapping along and followed by generous applause, but the surprisingly mature crowd otherwise remain static for the most part, despite plenty of parts providing ample opportunities to at least jump up and down. I can't help but to feel that this enthusiastic yet completely ordinary behaviour reflects perfectly the show that's coming to a close when one quick encore consisting of "See Who I Am" and "Mother Earth" is followed by a proper final one with "Stairway to the Skies". Within Temptation do a good job coming on, going through their obviously scripted stage movements and connecting with the crowd in a forthcoming, positive manner. They do not really impress in either departments of performing their music in a sonically captivating manner, or bringing the super-natural atmospheres of their material to life. This makes the show a good time, which will satisfy the less than critical, yet not a even remotely as great a time as I've seen other arena-sized bands deliver (see Placebo, Snow Patrol, 30 Seconds To Mars etc.). Sort of a shame because their recorded music and visual equipment actually gives them potential to be much better.

All photos courtesy of Julie Decome Photography

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