Fans of Delain have been anticipating this celebratory tenth anniversary live album for quite some time, with a Pledge Music campaign having supported the release. The live show itself was recorded on 10 December 2016 at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, so the album itself has been almost a year in the making. In addition to the two-CD audio release, there is also an accompanying DVD and Blu-ray. With top-notch production and a range of massive guests, the album was worth the wait – and perhaps best of all, 15% of the proceeds of the Pledge Music campaign were donated to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a UK anti-bullying initiative honouring the murdered teen.
The concert begins with the stirring intro track ‘The Monarch,’ which has a very Lord of the Rings vibe to it, signals the symphonic nature of the music before building into rousing guitar. The energy and excitement of the clapping, cheering crowd can clearly be heard before Delain launch into ‘Hands of Gold.’
What’s immediately apparent is that drummer Ruben Israel is one of the big stars of this show, with masses of energy and power that sustain for the whole gig. Naturally there is a massive roar from the crowd for vocalist Charlotte Wessels’ entrance, with her live vocals proving strong and emotive. The crowd are just as eager for the entrance of the first guest of the evening, Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz providing both harsh and clean vocals. White-Gluz is powerful, but doesn’t steal the show from Wessels. There are some truly gorgeous moments as the two of them sing together. Also worth noting is bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, who maintains a strong presence throughout the show.
The live representation of ‘Hands of Gold’ is very true to the album, Delain’s latest release Moonbathers. The same can be said for the next two songs, also from Moonbathers – ‘Suckerpunch’ and ‘The Glory and the Scum.’ Wessels continues to put on a charismatic performance, while guitarist Timo Somers also starts to come into his own. In particular, Somers’ solo in ‘The Glory and the Scum’ is a standout moment, while Schimmelpenninck van der Oije provides powerful harsh vocals. The intricacy of Martijn Westerholt’s keyboard playing is also steadfast throughout the show, a major feature of Delain’s sound.
‘Get the Devil out of Me’ brings the tempo down slightly to a different kind of song with a bit more of an electronic presence and heavy beat, representing the type of Delain song that is very danceable. Somers and rhythm guitarist Merel Bechtold hold the foundation of the track allowing more fanciful flights from Westerholt, while Israel continues to stand out as the powerhouse behind the show. Meanwhile, the crowd continues to need little provocation from Wessels to get chanting, and her on-stage persona seems a little inspired by Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia.
Schimmelpenninck van der Oije and Westerholt shine in ‘Army of Dolls,’ while Somers really stirs the crowd with his solo. Things become slower and more emotive with ‘The Hurricane,’ another song from Moonbathers. Notably, the Moonbathers songs go over just as well with the crowd as the classics.
Schimmelpenninck van der Oije and Westerholt continue to dominate the show in ‘April Rain,’ carrying the music behind Wessels’ voice before the full guitar onslaught. ‘Where is the Blood’ then sets a more sombre, but deep and heavy tone, particularly with guest vocals from Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell. Bell seems a little incongruous in his more aggressive sections, but his voice weaves beautifully with Wessels’ when they sing together.
‘Here come the Vultures’ – An ominous orchestral intro builds a lot of tension as it leads into ‘Here come the Vultures,’ which kicks in heavy and strong. This song is truly enhanced live, coming across far more powerfully than on The Human Contradiction, where it didn’t particularly stand out. Taking advantage of the enhanced power and the skilful rendition from the entire band, Wessels has an “antici… pation” moment at the end with “I’m in it… for the beat,” drawing out the hungry cheering of the crowd as long as she can.
The energy comes right back up with the faster ‘Fire with Fire,’ and the audience respond in kind with a massive lift. The clarity of Delain’s focus is clear in this song, as they work together as a perfect unit. This is followed by one of the more beautiful and mournful songs, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons,’ in which we hear the return of White-Gluz for an even stronger performance than on ‘Hands of Gold.’ White-Gluz’s transitions between growls and cleans are particularly mind-blowing.
‘Danse Macabre’ translates very powerfully live, again particularly in Israel’s parts, while ‘Sleepwalkers Dream’ is stirring and dramatic, reinvigorating the crowd despite the slightly lower tempo of the song. This is a big one, with former members Guus Eikens (guitar, Orphanage), Sander Zoer (drums) and Rob van der Loo (bass, Epica) joining the band for the classic song.
Unfortunately Nightwish’s Marco Hietala wasn’t able to be at the show, but his performance is provided via video as a “virtual guest” for ‘Your Body is a Battleground.’ The power of the show continues with ‘Stay Forever,’ then two more guests join the band for ‘See me in Shadow’ – Elianne Anemaat on cello, and Liv Kristine providing guest vocals. ‘See me in Shadow’ highlights the sweetness of Wessels’ voice, while she and Kristine harmonise so perfectly their voices become almost indistinguishable.
‘The Gathering’ is introduced by Wessels as the “party favourite,” and the crowd do bring huge energy to this uplifting song. This is followed by ‘Pristine,’ with former member George Oosthoek (Orphanage) bringing powerful guest growls for this heavy, climactic track.
The rest of the show is fast, heavy and energetic, with ‘Mother Machine’ followed by ‘Sing to Me,’ once again featuring Hietala as a virtual guest.
The show winds up with the danceable and high-energy ‘Don’t let Go,’ and finally the ultimate Delain song, the band’s tribute to Sophie Lancaster, ‘We are the Others.’ Lancaster’s story makes the song simultaneously uplifting and haunting, and it closes the set with amazing energy.
The quality of Delain’s live show is absolutely spellbinding, and it’s a great thing indeed that this performance has been immortalised. No doubt it will raise Delain’s profile further, and hopefully see them touring ever more broadly.
GET YOUR HANDS ON DELAIN’S A DECADE OF DELAIN: LIVE AT PARADISO AT NAPALM RECORDS HERE!