Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL)

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EPICA - Retrospect 10th Anniversary Show

Date: 23rd March, 2013
Venue: Klokgebouw
Ticket: €39 ($50) / €69 ($88) VIP
Promoter: Epica
Photos: Dimitris Machairas

The time had come for the biggest EPICA event entitled “Retrospect”, taking place in Klokgebouw, Eindhoven with the extended Hungarian symphonic orchestra and the choir of Miskolc. It was a not-to-miss show so METAL KAOZ went on a short trip to the Netherlands to attend “Retrospect”. After arriving to the extremely overcrowded venue, I had to deal with the coupons purchase in order to take drinks, while the columns inside the venue were blocking the fans’ view from almost every side, which was pretty annoying. I have to admit though that the merchandise looked majestic. Tah-tah (trompet sound), time for shopping!

Just before the show they played a video with former EPICA members (Ad Sluijet, Yves Huts), DORO, XANDRIA, Amanda Somerville and others wishing to the band good luck and speaking their mind about the career of EPICA for these 10 years. Shortly after 8:30pm, there was movement behind the thick curtains in front of the stage where the orchestra and the choir were taking their places, while the intro for the set was not “Karma” (as usual) but a new one, specially composed for this event and it was awesome. The sound quality was top notch so it is not a surprise that I had goosebumps during the first minutes. After the curtain had dropped, every band member took place onstage and the opening track from EPICA’s latest record “Requiem For The Indifferent”, “Monopoly On Truth” hit the speakers. I was thinking how difficult it must have been for the band and the orchestra to synchronize, but it was done perfectly with exceptional professionalism. Everybody was screaming and screamed even more when Simone Simons stepped onstage wearing an impressive dress. The lights/strobes  setup was huge so the stage and the show were amazing and, of course, there were pyro effects bursting according the tempo of the song and towards the end there were even some on the entire venue’s ceiling.

As in every EPICA concert I have attended, “Sensorium” was next. After all the opening track of EPICA’s debut first album is highly recognizable and if you add the choir then you understand how awesome it sounded. After that Simone talked to the fans about how excited EPICA are to make their dream come true with 4500 fans from over 50 countries, including the ones watching it online, and introduced their hit single “Unleashed”. Of course, the orchestra played the intro which can be found on the single version of “Unleashed” in “This Is The Time”. The sound coming from the choir and the orchestra in the beginning of the song was simply bombastic, followed by the endless headbanding from both band and crowd. Then “Martyr Of The Free Word”, one of the heaviest EPICA songs, hit our necks, and Simone tested the crowd by pointing the microphone to the fans to let them sing the chorus lyrics. Towards the end of this one I noticed two hooks hanging from the top and while I was wondering what would their use be so the stage crew placed a long piece of cloth in each of them, while Simone talked about one of her favourite movies, “From Hell”, where Johnny Depp is chasing a dragon. This is one of the most popular EPICA songs, but unfortunately it is rarely played live. As the ballad started, two women dressed in white started climbing these cloths and did acrobatics that went hand-by-hand to the song’s rhythm. It looked pretty dangerous, but it was really awesome to watch!

It was time for a break for the EPICA singer, and Mark Jansen introduced a violist from the orchestra who stepped forward and played the solo violin of “Presto” by Vivaldi, which can be listened as well in their live album “The Classical Conspiracy”. Then Simone, with a new outfit, and Mark asked if we can never get enough of EPICA. It is a song that is rarely played live after ‘The Divine Conspiracy’ tour but it couldn't be missing from such an event. Simone even nailed the high notes at the end of this one. Coen Janssen played in his new NuMotion curved keyboards which he hanged on him while he was moving around the stage. After all that action onstage, they had to take it slow for a couple of songs, and Simone introduced Floor Jansen (NIGHTWISH, REVAMP, ex-AFTER FOREVER) and all I can say is that I was lucky to see her performing live once again. The classical song was “Stabat Mater Delorosa” from “The Classical Conspiracy”. Floor Jansen is a very talented and versatile singer and she just made Simone look and sound small right next to her. It was definitely one of the evening’s highlights. EPICA continued with one more ballad that had never been played live before and Simone hoped we would recognize it. “Twin Flames” appears as a bonus track for iTunes and the North American version of the album. Most of the fans didn't know the song, and anyway I just think it was a bad choice, since they could have played another ballad from previous albums. Mark Jansen told us a story about a guy who, as far as I understood, was some kind of a crew member who passed away lately, so “Serenade Of Self-Destruction” was dedicated to him. This 10-minute long epic song never sounded so bombastic, and there was constant headbanging. The strings in the riff of the song just sounded amazing.

Then the entire band left the stage and the orchestra started playing a song from their first album, “Feint”. While I was waiting for Simone to come onstage and sing along, she never did, since it was just an orchestral medley of “Feint”: the bridge of “Fools Of Damnation”, the chorus of “Kingdom Of Heaven”, the endings of “Run For A Fall” and “Deep Water Horizon”. Without stopping at all, the beginning of “The Divine Conspiracy” followed and I was happy to listen to it just as an orchestral version. But hey, they were actually playing it and the whole band came on stage for this song that was never played live since the release party of the album in 2007, so it was the biggest surprise I could ever get. The extremely bombastic chorus sounded majestic and I just couldn't believe my ears. However, they just played an edited version (from 13 minutes long, it was approximately around 5) because they omitted the slow orchestral parts in the middle of the song, as well as the outro.

Simone told us about how happy she was at the moment, but still could never forget the darkest paths of her life, introducing “Delirium”, the ballad of their latest record. If I’m right, this has been written for her experience when she was infected by MRSA after an operation back in 2007. No songs were played from “Consign To Oblivion” and it was time for “Blank Infinity”, a song which is often played by the band and couldn't be missed in such a show. And after that, as in every concert, Mark and Isaac divided the crowd into two parties so there was some singing/chanting along festivities. Then, the riff of “The Obsessive Devotion” hit us, and I still wonder why they play this song in the middle of the setlist, as in my opinion it disrupted its flow. “Retrospect” was next, a song written especially for this occasion, and it sounded very old-school, like it was taken out from the first album. It was a really great experience with lots of orchestra, choir, and a very catchy chorus. I can't wait for this one to be officially released!

Have you ever seen Darth Vader playing double pedal? I have! The orchestra and the choir started playing the intro “Battle Of The Heroes” from the Star Wars series until the band jumped back on their instruments to play the movie’s theme song, “The Imperial March”. Purple lights were everywhere and the sound blew our ears away. It seemed that even the guys from the choir couldn't resist to headbang! The next guests for the night were the former bass, guitar players, and the drummer, Yves Huts, Ad Sluijter and Jeroen Simons. They did “Quietus” together, a song in which all of them were playing in the original version. It surely couldn't be missed from such a night. “The Phantom Agony” sounded as never before, one of the most epic and dark EPICA songs during which almost everyone was singing along or headbanging. I got chills down my spine from the very first seconds until the outro, 10 minutes later where green rhythmic lights, no guitars, and everybody started jumping around and dancing in the Disco (!) version of the chorus.

After the first encore, EPICA returned with “Cry For The Moon” in an extended version, doing the classical singing game and a drum solo towards the end. Then Floor Jansen sung “Sancta Terra” together with Simone; they sounded amazing together, especially towards the end where the choir matched really great doing the background vocals. And their "last" song for the night was “Design Your Universe”; the bombastic orchestra and choir gave an original sensation of the song which cannot be compared to the pre-recorded samples in their other live concerts. The orchestra didn't move an inch, and Coen Janssen came onstage to thank everybody, announcing that the show is going to be released in DVD. Right after that, “Storm The Sorrow” and “Consign To Oblivion” (often played as EPICA’s last live song) gave an end to this concert.

Hands down this was one of the best concerts I have ever attended in my life. Now, a few days later, I still can't stop thinking of it and I am really looking forward to watching it on my screen in high definition as well. Three hours full of professionalism from a band which didn't tire the crowd at all. Sure, I could be there for three more hours as well...


EPICA setlist:

01. Intro
02. “Monopoly On Truth”
03. “Sensorium”
04. “Unleased”
05. “Martyr Of The Free Word”
06. “Chasing The Dragon”
07. “Presto”
08. “Never Enough”
09. “Stabat Mater Delorosa”
10. “Twin Flames”
11. “Serenade Of Self-Destruction”
12. “Feint” / “Fools Of Damnation” / “Mother Of Light” / “Kingdom Of Heaven” / “Run For A Fall” / “Deep Water Horizon” (Orchestral Medley)
13. “The Divine Conspiracy”
14. “Delirium”
15. “Blank Infinity”
16. “The Obsessive Devotion”
17. “Retrospect”
18. “Battle Of Heroes” / “The Imperial March”
19. “Quietus”
20. “The Phantom Agony”
21. “Cry For The Moon”
22. “Sancta Terra”
23. “Design Your Universe”
24. “Storm The Sorrow”
25. “Consign To Oblivion”
26. Outro


Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas) Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas) Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas)
Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas) Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas) Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas) Epica @ Klokgebouw, Eindhoven (NL) (photos by Dimitris Machairas)

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