Epica @ O2 Ritz, Manchester
Epica’s special guests for this tour are Swiss folk metallers Eluveitie (pronounced El-u-vai-tee, I had to look it up too). I missed the first half of their one-hour plus set as I was interviewing Epica but the band were in full flow by the time I returned. They combine European and Celtic folk sounds with heavy metal and describe themselves as pure fucking folk metal, who am I to argue.
They have put out 6 albums and the set this evening is a mix of tracks from those. The singing is a combination of soft folk and jigs through to the harsh aggressive heavy/death metal style and their songs are often sung in Gaelic. In addition to the modern instruments there are fiddles/violins, flutes, whistles, a mandola (bass mandolin, I think) and a hurdy-gurdy. An interesting combination which went down incredibly well with this very eager, enthusiastic and packed prog metal crowd. A mosh pit erupted several times to the various jigs that were played – it was a sight to behold and considering the reaction they received they will most definitely be back soon.
Considering the amount of gear Eluveitie used and needed to be shifted, it was a wonder they were able to turn it all around in just under 30 minutes and be ready for Epica, with their own brand of progressive metal and a light show the likes of which has rarely been seen in the O2 Ritz. Epic is an overused term but this show was on another level – everything from the sound and lights to the performances themselves was spot on.
From the opening notes of The Second Stone and through The Essence Of Silence the audience were captive. Cry For The Moon was epic Epica, The Obsessive Devotion could easily sum up their dedicated legion of fans. With stunning operatic vocals from Simone Simons to the cool curved keyboard of Coen Janssen, everything was on an Epica scale.
The set was quite simply flooring everyone, the only lighter respite being Victims Of Contingency only to be followed by a stunning performance of Design your Universe which closed out the main set. The encore finished with an awesome performance of Consign To Oblivion. Having seen them at NQ Live about 5 years ago and being fairly disappointed at that time, this was a complete turn around and I am convinced that based on the quality of their recorded material and their live performances that they will be heading to bigger venues in the future.