Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC
February 16th, 2018
Having undeniably influenced the gothic/nu-rock/emo scene of the early 2000’s, the macabre brilliance of Evanescence simply cannot be forgotten. Effortlessly covering mature themes such as adoration, suicide and solitude, their musical arrangements and instrumental direction were approached with both elegance and intrigue.
As influential as Evanescence were, one could argue it was Amy Lee’s glorious vocals which were the core element of the band. Considered as some of the most beautiful in the scene, reserved yet brash, Lee’s performances were mesmerising. Powerful and never overshadowed, her eloquent tones drifted softly with each word – never cracking under pressure. Incredibly gifted and underappreciated, the band continued for another few years until eventually slowing down in the mid-10’s.
Some years later, in front of an eager Rod Laver Arena, the American nu-rock ensemble have bought their critically acclaimed Synthesis Live Tour to Australia, with help from a full symphony orchestra – the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
Here to promote their latest album Synthesis, a re-imagining of earlier material, Lee looked every bit as theatrical as the music. With a crescendo as haunting as it is impressive, her vocals are soft and sweet, beautifully dark and pleasant at the same time. Dressed in a billowing black robe, she demanded immediate attention whether in centre stage or at the grand piano.
Soaring as an operatic diva, Lee brings a deeper and more authentic version of ‘Overture’ to start the night. Quickly followed by ‘Never Go Back’, now heavy on electronic sounds and piano, it’s original feel is fast forgotten but the crowd warmly embraces the update.
Accompanied by the delicate strings and brass of the MSO, welcome substitutes for electric guitars and bass, the band’s sound has truly changed. Now a hybrid-synthesis of classical rock, its Lee’s precious, angelic vocals who must share the spotlight.
Having toyed with this soundscape before on ‘Lacrymosa’, ‘My Heart is Broken’ and ‘End of the Dream’ – all played this evening with such bravado – it was the familiar material, now newly composed, that drew the greatest cheers. Favourites like ‘Bring Me to Life’, ‘My Immortal’ and ‘Lithium’ provided thenight’ss high points, whilst new tracks ‘Hi-Lo’ and ‘Imperfection’ were as dynamic as compelling.
Hypnotic strings cradled the melody in ‘Unravelling’, electronic drums fuelled the driving force of ‘Your Star’, and Lee’s breath-taking voice carried ‘Imaginary’ to new baroque reaches.
Previewing a complete re-work of a back catalogue, consisting of orchestral versions, may seem daunting but to put it bluntly… it works! Dramatic, vibrant, and commanding, it makes perfect sense in the studio and live. A delicious gamble of great odds, it begs the question, “why did we have to wait this long for it?”
Revisit our interview with Evanescence drummer Will Hunt right here
Photo Gallery by Holly Parker @hllyprkrphoto. Please credit Wall of Sound and Holly Parker if you repost photos.