Support acts: Santa Cruz, I Prevail
Amaranthe @Trocadero, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, May 16, 2015
Amaranthe is one of the most unique bands in the metal genre… and I’m not just referring to their refreshingly unique blend of melodic pop death metal. They are also unique in their quest for world domination. Living in the USA can be very frustrating for fans of European bands because, they either don’t come here at all, or they take years to build up to a headlining tour by tagging along as support on other bands’ tours. But just like they broke the musical mold, Amaranthe seems determined to break the rules and toured North America for the first time in 2013 as a headlining act. They returned a year later for a very successful support tour with the symphonic metal powerhouse, Within Temptation. Now, they are back again, just six months later, with another headlining tour! Being a huge fan of this band, I would have normally hit several shows, but the tour was announced relatively late. Due to conflicts with other bands’ tours that were already arranged months before, I was heartbroken that I would only be able to attend one of Amaranthe’s shows. But one was better than none, and I jumped at the chance to take the three hour trip to Philadelphia to see them!
The show was at the Trocadero, a moderate sized indoor concert venue with a standing room only floor and a seated balcony. The first support band was a four piece hard rock/metal band from Finland called Santa Cruz. I hadn’t heard of them before and didn’t know their songs, but I did enjoy their show. They had an 80s glam band style about them, but without the extreme makeup and hair styles. They have apparently been around for years and have released two studio albums and multiple music videos. Their lead vocalist Arttu (Archie) was very interactive with the audience which included (in 80s fashion) jumping down into the pit to kiss the girls in the audience. In a move that made venue security very uncomfortable, Archie also climbed one of the speaker towers to the railing of second floor of the venue to sing an entire song while hanging off the second floor railing over the audience! They played what I believe was a seven song set list that included “Let Them Burn” and “Bye Bye Babylon”… but those were the only 2 titles I caught. It was a good solid show that I’m sure I would have enjoyed even more if I were familiar with their songs. But I intend to remedy that issue and will be more prepared when they come back around.
Next up was the self described Post-Hardcore band, I Prevail… and from the crowd reaction, it was obvious that this band had a lot of fans inthe audience! My initial reaction when they first hit the stage was: “Oh, I don’t think I’m going to like this”… but the band proved me wrong and put on what I felt was a really fun and entertaining show. They are a six piece band from the USA with two vocalists that growl and singclean lyrics. The rest of the band was rounded out by two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. If you were too watch this band without sound, you would swear by their stage mannerisms that you were watching a hip hop act… but, although there were some hip hop style lyrics here and there, the vocals and music were mostly rock/metal. The audience was really into the show and the floor of the venue was constantly vibrating from all of the jumping. Their set was slightly longer than the first band, but I lost track of the number of songs. Although the set was mostly original songs, I did recognize one cover tune of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”… and they did an excellent job converting it to hard core! (The You Tube video has over 10 million views!). During the last song of the set, one of the vocalists and the bassist jumped into the mosh pit to finish the set amongst the crowd. The thing that really impressed me about I Prevail is that, despite being of a genre that I typically don’t listen to… I really enjoyed their set which I think speaks volumes to their ability to entertain!
When Amaranthe finally took the stage I was ready! It had been over six months since I saw them live, which was way too long. For those of you unfamiliar with this band, Amaranthe is a six piece band from Gothenburg, Sweden that play an infectiously addictive style of metal, effectively fused with catchy pop vocals with just the right mix of melody, harmony and death metal growls. The band has three vocalists; two that sing clean (Jake E and Elize Ryd) and one growler (Henrik). The band is rounded out by a guitarist (Olof Mörck), a bassist (Johan Andreassen), and a drummer (Morten Løwe Sørensen). They are currently on tour in support of their aptly named third studio album, “Massive Addictive”.I just cannot say enough good things about their show. The musical quality was superb and the vocals were stunning. They played a total of nineteen songs, which for me, was not nearly enough… I could watch this band play all night and never get tired of it! The band was touring without their growler, Henrik, as he stayed back in Sweden on paternity leave. Their fill in growler was Olle Ekman of the band Deals Death. I thought he was a great choice as his vocal stylings were very similar to Henrik’s and he had great chemistry with the audience and the rest of the band. He even looks a bit like Henrik and a lot of fans actually presumed that he was Henrik! Amaranthe took advantage of the larger stages on this tour by having much more elaborate lighting than they had on previous North American tours. There was a lot of backlighting though (as you can see from the multiple silhouettes in my photos).
Their main set of fifteen songs started out with two songs from the new album, “Digital World” and “Trinity”; both high energy songs that got the audience jumping right away. Additional songs from the new album included “True”, “Massive Addictive”, and one of my personal favorites, “Over and Done”. Also included were most of their video hits including “Invincible”, “1,000,000 Light Years”, “Hunger”, and the crowd sing-a-long favorite “Amaranthine”. “Burn With Me” was disappointingly absent from the set. I was, however, really excited to hear “Electroheart” and “Razorblade”; two songs from their second album that I had not heard them play at the previous shows that I’d attended. We also got to witness a great drum solo by Morten. The remainder of the main set was rounded out by “Serendipity”, “Afterlife”, “Call Out My Name”(complete with Elize’s signature high kick!), and “Leave Everything Behind”.
There was a brief intermission before the encores, during which Elize changed her costume from a short skirt/shorts to a stunning long dress. The encores began with “Automatic” from their first album. Two more songs from the new album were played as well; “Dynamite” and “Drop Dead Cynical”. Rounding out the evening was the popular video hit “The Nexus”. It was an incredibly fun and high energy show. The band even had enough energy left to do a Meet and Greet with select members of their fan club afterwards. They were all gracious and friendly and took the time to make sure everyone got their autographs. I left feeling sad though… not knowing when I’d see them again. But hopefully, they will continue their trend of regularly coming back to North America… and it will be soon!!