Evanescence & Arcance Roots at Hammersmith Apollo, London - live review

Gothic metal frontrunners return from the wilderness

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Since their breakthrough in 2003, tonight’s headliners have spent as much time on hiatus as they have off it. Long absences can be detrimental to careers; the music industry is fickle, fans move on and forget, yet for a second night running, Evanescence have sold out the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, their first time on UK soil for six years. Prog-meets-post-hardcore trio ARCANE ROOTS [7] seem an unusual choice of support given there’s little crossover between their dense, glitchy intricacies and the headliners’ ethereal goth-rock, but they kick off proceedings with aplomb. Opener Over And Over and atmospheric new track Matter are built on erratic, Biffy Clyro-esque time signatures while they use their quiet/loud dynamic to devastating effect on a thunderous Curtains. It’s a just a shame that large portions of the crowd seem more interested in chatting to each other – to them the band are just a placeholder before the main event – but AR have the rest of us enthralled.

Given the large gaps between their three studio albums, waiting has become part of the job description for EVANESCENCE [7] fans. However, as the lights dim, screams pierce the air and patience turns to frenzied excitement and fist-pumping as the band take to the stage with an opening salvo of singles Everybody’s Fool, What You Want and Going Under. Tight, energetic and pumped up, tonight’s a sharp reminder that this Arkansas quintet made female-fronted gothic rock a formidable commercial proposition in the 00s. Sadly, though, with its crunchy, nu metal leanings, some of Evanescence’s heavier material hasn’t aged well (perhaps the reason they’ve chosen to rework these songs on upcoming album Synthesis). The band really bewitch when they strip the machismo away, leaving frontwoman Amy Lee, her remarkable voice and piano centre stage. Her operatic vocals are seriously spellbinding on a haunting Lithium and an acoustic rendition of My Immortal, while some of the notes she pulls out on big-hitter Bring Me To Life have the crowd’s jaws on the floor. Disappointingly, however, despite the band promising two new tracks from Synthesis, neither appear in tonight’s setlist. Evanescence have given us a solid reminder of their successful past, but it would have been more interesting to see a glimpse of their future.