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This is the second time I've seen Dutch metal band Within Temptation live at Birmingham's O2, a symphonic metal group formed in 1996 fronted by the ever-incredible Sharon den Adel. If you're a fan of bands like Nightwish and Evanescence, then the operatic, gothic sounds of Within Temptation will be just up your street.
Within Temptation opened their set with not one, but three songs from the new album Resist (due to be released 14 December)! Usually, opening with a block of new tracks that your audience may not be familiar with would be a bad idea in my books, but these guys make it work. The moment Sharon stepped out onto that stage, to 'Raise your Banner', waving a large white flag she had the entire audience under her spell. Her vocal talents will never cease to amaze me, considering she's never had formal training. The operatic elements of Within Temptation sound amazing on their studio albums, but hearing it live absolutely blows me away every time.
'Stand My Ground' is an old favourite of mine, from The Silent Force album, and it's definitely a favourite for the entire crowd. Every single person around me knows the words by heart and we're all pumping our arms in the air for the duration. 'Supernova' is a spectacular highlight, with the band making full use of the video screens set up behind them to provide an epic spectacle both musically and visually. The screens are utilised throughout the set, but this was definitely the most effective, and awe-inspiring use of visual effects.
'Faster' is another crowd pleaser, which has us all clapping our hands and singing along with Sharon. The whole band have an incredible stage presence, and it's not difficult for them to direct their fans in singing along or waving our arms. Watching them perform, it does feel like you're dancing with them, rather than just rocking out on your own.
As the set draws to a close, Sharon performs a stripped back rendition of 'Forgiven' with keyboardist Martijn Spierenburg that is absolutely mesmerizing. I'm not sure anyone even moved a muscle as she took the opportunity to really show off her astounding vocal range, but the crowd sure did go absolutely crazy when the song came to an end.
Luckily for us, the band returned for a two-song encore, including my absolute all-time favourite Within Temptation song 'What have you Done' featuring Keith Caputo. Keith's appearance for this song is achieved entirely through the video screens I mentioned earlier, and- as my Dad will confirm- I just went absolutely crazy for this song. This was probably the point at which the crowd was singing the loudest, as we all screamed the titular line back at the band and it was honestly the highlight of my night. There were a couple of songs that I wish had been included in the set, but with a back-catalogue as expansive as Within Temptation's they can't play all of their hits.
After a career spanning over twenty years, some might think that a band of their age might be starting to lose momentum, but tonight proved to me that Within Temptation have absolutely still got it. The band's sound is just as phenomenal, and current, as it's always been. For as long as these guys keep making music, I can happily say I will continue to be a fan.