EVERGREY / SHATTERED SUN / FIERCE ATMOSPHERES / LEGACY BLACK
After the lineup changes, EVERGREY seem to have found a new balance and some fresh inspiration that have been reflected on their last three albums, with “The Atlantic” being the last of the three. I guess this proves once more that bands are like living entities that grow, change and, in times, adapt (or fall apart) once a big crisis shows up. Whether we like it or not, crisis is an important part in everyone’s life since it’s an opportunity to grow or do a drastic change. So, with “The Atlantic” under their belt, the Swedes of EVERGREY crossed the Atlantic (love the pun here), like they did a couple of years ago. In fact, EVERGEY have been visiting the US in every album-touring cycle and this is an awesome setup, if you’d ask me.
The scheduled interview with Rikard and Johan went great but since the time had been pushed back, we ended up losing the first two bands on the billing. I was expecting to see more metalheads inside The Forge although I was fully aware that sometimes people show up just before the headliners, and as it turned out, this was no different.
SHATTERED SUN were ready to prime the audience’s ears right before the headliners, and it was cool to see that the Texans had a group of fans occupying the front lines. It is a great mood booster to have a bunch of die-hard fans in the front rows, especially when you are not familiar with the band’s musical doings. Aside from being an audio experience, a live concert (and especially a Metal one) is a visual experience too, and the audience with the level of participation plays an important role. Right on time, SHATTERED SUN hit the stage with all gun blazing but the sound was not as good as it had been in almost every show we have attended in The Forge. And because of this, I lost some of the details SHATTERED SUN have in their music, being “buried” under a rather “muffled” mix. In fact, checking their music at the comfort of home, I realized how many things I missed on the live setting. To pile on this, there were some technical difficulties with one of the two guitars, and occasionally, singer Marcos Leal had some “connectivity” issues with his mic. Still, the band got lemons and made lemonade (paraphrasing the proverbial phrase) and compensated these glitches with onstage energy and lots of headbanging. Another minor (but still annoying) issue I had was with the stage lights that were monochrome with almost total absence of white, hiding the musician’s face behind the veil of the fog effects... “How are you crazy motherfuckers doing tonight? We have some new songs for you tonight - is that ok with you?”, asked Marcos with the stomp-y “Never Enough” being the perfect occasion for some headbanging.
To my disappointment, the sound quality did not improve much, and therefore I did not appreciate much Marcos’s clean vocal parts or the really good guitar leads. Both of these SHATTERED SUN-features became audible after I had checked the band’s music online. “Burn It Down” sounded in the same vein with “Never Enough” mixing Metalcore with some almost SOILWORK finishing touches that are quite appealing to me. If only the sound would have been better... Sorry for bring this up again...
“How many of you have children?”, asked Marcos who did not see as many hands as he was expecting and was a bit disappointed because of this. In a more serious note, he dedicated the mid-tempo “Shades Of Melodie” to his daughter, making the connection between the song and his question (loved the Prog-gy guitar solo on this one). Even though there was no direct connection with EVEGREY, SHATTERED SUN did the most of the time they had in their disposal and the atmosphere inside The Forge was ready to host the Swedes.
(click to enlarge)
With more people inside the venue and more EVERGREY t-shirts at the front lines, it was time to hear how the new material would sound in concert with the hope that all the technical issues SHATTERED SUN had would have been resolved. Well, the intro with VAN HALEN’s “Panama” did sound clear, so I got pumped up seeing the band entering the stage. One by one EVERGREY assumed their onstage positions, leaving last, but not least, Tom Englund. The taped intro gave away the setlist opener that was the amazing “A Silent Arc” with the sonar sound effects, making the connection with the album’s lyrical theme. However, the moment the band started playing, the sound went south to the point that the vocals were kind of muffled and with Tom’s guitar remaining silent... Damn, that was a bummer, especially for a band like EVERGREY that uses many layers in their music, so you’ve got to be able to hear most of them (at least). The stage-lights remained monochromatic with the “terrifying” red color washing everything to oblivion and the white lights still being M.I.A....
After a brief greeting, it was time for the amazing “Weightless” that to my relief came out with better sound and with Tom’s guitar back in action. I love the entire EVERGREY backgatalogue and for this I find myself being torn between hearing the old and the new songs live. However, my preference leans closer to the latter based on my belief that if a band keeps releasing great albums, then it is worth going to concerts to experience them in action. Otherwise, bands turn into mere performers of their own music, and this, my friends, makes me feel sad. The clapping-along during this one made it loud and clear that EVERGREY have managed to break the tough shell of the US market and, in fact, they have created a new generation of fans who knows them through the latest albums and I have no problem with that, as long as I see this lineup crossing the big pond.
My hope that the sound would get better outside the photo-pit was crushed during my favorite “Distance” that comes with the EVERGREY-trademark moody atmosphere and Tom’s unique singing timbre. At this point, I decided to stop anticipating any improvement from the soundboard’s side, and direct all my attention to the music. The sing-along “Passing Through” helped me do that and it felt awesome to see that there were many “backing vocalists” among the audience, supporting the fact that EVERGREY are on growing grounds here in the States.
“Thank you - this is the first city in this tour that has a normal temperature”, said Tom before commenting on the fact that he has gained some pounds, underlining at the same time his anti-star attitude that is shared by all of the band-members. “The Fire” with the pre-recorded children choir vocals gave me goosebumps and I think the sound had gotten better because I was able to enjoy more layers, and that lifted my spirits even more. The audience’s participation during “Black Undertow” put the cherry on top of the EVERGREY cake and I was excited to devour its sweet piece. As always, there were several requests for songs (I wanted to scream “Trilogy Of The Damned” but I chickened out) but not one of them was granted by Tom who gracefully denying them. There were some fans who had watched the band more times in this touring cycle and it was funny to hear Tom saying “we won’t play this as I told you last night” to a fan in the front row... To be honest, I love it when bands acknowledge the dedicated fans simply by saying something at them. Really, such small gestures are enough to create a new memory and make a show ever more special, so please do as Tom did and pay attention to the fans who are following you around.
Even with songs lasting more than five minutes seeing the band saying goodnight after “My Allied Ocean” (another sing-along worthy song) and “All I Have” felt too early and I was not the only one feeling like that because the “EVERGREY, EVERGREY” chant made doing an encore the only most logical move for the band to make. “Recreation Day” was the first song of the encore and it is interesting to consider that this was the oldest song of the setlist. Would I love to hear more from the albums before that? You are damn right I would, but then, I would not be able to choose what song to remove from the setlist... With that thought in mind, it did not make sense to have a keyboards / guitar solo, even though I enjoyed the ‘70s keyboard melodies and how Henrik exchanged leading roles with Rikard. “Thank you for your support all these years”, said Tom and maybe this statement sounds cliché to some, but it still gives me goosebumps hearing a band with such long history stopping for a bit to be thankful. “A Touch Of Blessing” and “King Of Errors” were the last two for the night and left only happy faces leaving the venue. Were 80 minutes enough? “No” is the immediate answer and hopefully we’ll see EVERGREY on US stages sometime next year. Unless the plan is to start working on a new album, and in that case, I am eager to bottle my needs up for a while.
01. “A Silent Arc”
04. “Passing Through”
05. “The Fire”
06. “Leave It Behind Us”
07. “Black Undertow”
08. “My Allied Ocean”
09. “All I Have”
10. “Recreation Day”
11. Guitar / Keyboard Solo
12. “A Touch Of Blessing”
13. “King Of Errors”
(click to enlarge)