Within minutes of the doors opening, Glasgow’s 02 Academy was packed out with fans of an almost cult-like following, which over the last eighteen years, Within Temptation have successfully entertained across their six studio albums with their own brand of gothic, symphonic metal.
With only one band on before they took to the stage, fans were treated to the fellow Dutch act, Delain, who fall into a very similar musical vein of metal to Within Temptation and unsurprisingly, went down very well with the crowd. Fronted by the beautiful Charlotte Wessels, they are the perfect act to warm up the crowd before the headliners. Opening with ‘Go Away’ from the 2009 album, April Rain, Delain deliver a set featuring tracks both old and new. Highlights included new tracks, ‘Army of Dolls’, and ‘Star Dust’, both from their latest album, The Human Contradiction. Both tracks feature catchy, if not simple choruses, but ones which got everyone singing along. ‘Star Dust’ in particular stood out in the set due to its visually powerful ending, finishing with a heartbeat sounding drum kick while red spot lights flashed on and off in time onto a perfectly posed Wessels. Charlotte’s voice was utterly flawless throughout the set and this upcoming band as a whole seemed genuinely appreciative of the warm reception their received from their only Scottish audience on the tour.
Within Temptation opened their set with ‘Let Us Burn’ from the latest album, Hydra. Performed to a backdrop of a video projection of flames it was a visually impressive start to the show. I however did feel slightly let down by this, as looking at the stage and seeing Mike Coolen on drums protected by a perspex screen I did wonder if they would have real flames onstage, but this never happened unfortunately. The video projections stayed on throughout each track which was handy seeing as several tracks off the new album feature guest artists, so this was the bands way of showcasing these artists during their sections of the vocals.
One thing which was very noticeable about Within Temptation’s set, was that there was no time wasted on stage. One track played into the next, the only gaps being for short video interludes to allow for one of many of Sharon’s costume changes. It was an hour into the set before she spoke to the crowd and it suddenly becomes clear why they maybe have little crowd interaction… Vocalist Sharon del Adel is a very beautiful, very talented lady and after hearing the power and range she has in her vocals performed live and see the way she mesmerises the crowd with her dancing and general presence when she is singing, is it incredible how little presence she has when she actually speaks to the crowd. After mumbling something about heroes which I didn’t quite understand they thankfully moved on with the set, before the next time when she spoke to the crowd and thanked Newcastle for being a wonderful crowd… bad move to make in Glasgow… especially when someone had thrown a Scottish rugby top at her only moments beforehand! This aside, no one can take away the chemistry this sextet have onstage and in particular the way guitarists Ruud Jolie and Stefan Helleblad work together in perfect unison. After speaking to Ruud before the gig, (interview can be seen here) he made it clear how much fun these guys have on tour together and that it’s 100% their passion for the music which keeps them together.
The highlight of the entire night came from Ruud and Sharon who performed an acoustic track, ‘Whole World Is Watching’ which was absolutely beautiful and the emotion of which could genuinely be felt throughout the entire venue. Spectacular songwriting and emotive guitar playing was teamed with Sharon’s pitch perfect vocals to make for a very special moment, regardless of your feelings towards the band as a whole.
Another unforgettable moment (but for very different reasons), came with their penultimate track of the night, a cover of Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey. Sharon had apparently seen on twitter earlier that day, a man who had promised to come to the gig wearing a kilt, so she then called upon the man wearing a kilt to come and join her onstage. Although the original tweeter had failed to comply with his promise, she found another willing volunteer who joined the band onstage for the track and my goodness did he give it laldy doing what we shall call for politeness sake, dancing, beside Sharon. A hilarious moment which really showed off not only a different and sultry side to Sharon’s vocals, but also more of the bands personality and sense of fun.
After a huge round of applause, the mystery kilt man left the stage and Within Temptation resumed some sense of normality again as they finished with a firm crowd favourite and one of their best known hits to date, ‘Ice Queen’ from the 2001 album, Mother Earth. Although it had probably been a good five or six years since I had listened to Within Temptation previous to the Glasgow date, I can honestly say this gig has rekindled a love for the band and in all honesty, the new album Hydra is well worth a listen.