EPICA – Nosturi, Helsinki, 30.03.2013

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During the tour for their 2012 album, Requiem for the Indifferent, Dutch symphonic metal band, Epica, came through Nosturi, Helsinki, on May 30th, 2013. They were ready to play with full energy, despite vocalist Simone Simons being about five months pregnant.

 

The introduction was long and the stage was dark, with some subtle drum music playing as the crowd clapped to urge the band to come out. The drums picked up progressively and the band came out, starting the show with “Monopoly on Truth,” the first full track off their latest release. Simone was looking about as gorgeous as possible for a lady five months along, and it wasn’t holding her back in the least. Her voice was just as powerful as it’s ever been, and she sounded fantastic, and was never overpowered by the backing track. She was a perfect mix of sexy and cute on stage, with her gentle dancing around, but strong metal presence.

The band must be one of the most attractive bands imaginable, not only because of Simone, but the lineup of handsome long-haired men, headbanging and rocking out in perfect sync. Mark Jansen, growling vocals and guitars, split the fronting with Simone as always, and the two of them traded off introducing the songs throughout the show and chatting with the crowd.

Simone let everyone know that they were happy to be back in Finland, particularly when the weather is so surprisingly nice (even more so than in Germany and other warm European countries). She joked that they might take their holiday here instead, since it was so beautiful out.

It was Mark who introduced one of Epica’s “heaviest” tracks, “The Obsessive Devotion.” He was full of smiles throughout the show, happy for the warm welcome from Finland (inside and outside), and introduced the title track from their 2009 album as well, Design Your Universe; a song about achieving your dreams and believing in yourself. Simone at that point had changed out of what looked to be a very warm leather-style coat, into a sheer cape with some fancy shoulder-pads. The song had some really intense, perfect headbanging, where all three of the guys up front (two guitars and bass) were in perfect sync with all their movements. There was also an astonishingly pleasing amount of double-kick throughout the show as well.

Guitarist Isaac Delahaye was particularly fun to watch, constantly goofing around, ‘talking’ to the crowd while playing, and being a good showman (without any hint of arrogance too). He played around with bassist, Rob van der Loo, and the silly keyboardist, Coen Janssen, and of course, with Mark as well. They all looked like they were having a blast on stage, throwing picks out to the crowd and Coen Janssen was making a lot of silly faces and gestures throughout.

Before introducing “Chasing the Dragon,” Simone mentioned that she couldn’t imagine life without music (and salmiakki, though she doesn’t get to have any for a few months). Food, family, and friends are all important, and “Chasing the Dragon” was nice and relaxed, but still with a lot of positive energy.

The show was generally just a lot of fun. Isaac was helping Coen play the keyboards in “Sancta Terra,” but Coen then returned the favor during “Cry for the Moon.” The latter was introduced by Simone as a song that makes an Epica show complete, and they have only played two or three shows without it. Isaac was also playing cymbals during the crowd chant part-way through the song. Mark was throwing water on the crowd, to the cheers of those in his range, and the track ended with a drum solo from the very enthusiastic Ariën van Weesenbeek. Not to be outdone, Coen came down from his platform to toss guitar picks into the crowd.

They finished the set with “The Phantom Agony”, which included one of the most bizarre and entertaining interludes I’ve ever seen, when Simone shouted out, “Are you ready to party?” and a disco-dance seemed to start on stage. There were colored lights flashing around, the music got a funkier, and the band and crowd alike started jumping up and down. This happened twice, before the looong instrumental outro took them off stage.

It was a fair while before Coen came back, raising his hands to get a cheer from the crowd, and began to talk about how they have just been to Mexico and China, but Finland was the hottest. He loved the crowd, and said that he thought the cold was a lie meant to keep them away. He suggested that Finland has enough of its own great bands that they don’t need Epica, citing Sonata Arctica and a few others as examples. The crowd disagreed, chanting “Epica! Epica!” at the top of their lungs. They had an early flight to Belarus the next morning, but he agreed that they would play a few more songs, stating that Mark had an assignment for the crowd.

At that point Mark returned to the stage, shirtless, and they made jokes about playing “Cry for the Moon” a few more times, before he got the crowd to put their hands in the air and clap, and the Celtic-sounding intro to “Quietus” started up. Before the next song, one of the frontmen stated that they heard from a journalist that Thursday is Beerday in Finland, and asked if they were ready for the storm, were they ready for the sorrow, to get everyone revved up for “Storm the Sorrow.”

At last, Simone thanked everyone for coming out, and asked the crowd to drink a salmiakki for her, and that they hoped to be back in 2014 with a new album, before ending the encore with “Consign to Oblivion.”

 

Overall, it was an energetic, fun show. The band was always interacting with one another at any point throughout. The white lighting and silhouetting was perfect for the fans that had their cameras out during the show, and there was enough shredding by the guitarists and movement by the swiveling keyboard stand that there was always something to look at. It’s definitely a good time and absolutely worth checking out if you love their music!

Setlist:
1. Karma
2. Monopoly on Truth
3. Sensorium
4. Unleashed
5. Martyr of the Free Word
6. The Obsessive Devotion
7. Design Your Universe
8. Blank Infinity
9. Chasing the Dragon
10. Sancta Terra
11. Cry for the Moon
12. The Phantom Agony

Encore:
14. Quietus
15. Storm the Sorrow
16. Consign to Oblivion

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