Sound: It was at a relatively small bar in Sydney's centre where Evergrey were set to play their first ever show in Australia. While normally the more popular acts that visit Australia opt for larger, more spacious venues when touring, The Gaelic Theatre was ideal for the progressive metal quintet, atmospheric yet very personal. First up on the night were local act Transcending Mortality. I wasn't particularly enthused when learning the band was to kick-start the show, particularly when the last time I saw them I left feeling as if I had lost my entire auditory sense, perhaps not their direct fault but still a part of it. Needless to say the group wasted no time entering into one of their heavier tracks titled Beyond Remembrance from their album The Lost Horizon. I was blown away. Instantly my previous thoughts on the group seemed unfairly prejudicial. The band progressed through their intensive mix of power metal via the unique sounds of guitarists Shane Linfoot and Jonathan Talan, drummer Matt Shriffer and (perhaps more so) vocalist Mike Zoias, pausing between songs to thank their loyal audience. Overall, a great set and enthusiastic performance was perfect as the start of the power metal evening.
Next up was Eyefear, one of Melbourne's most loved power metal bands. With a new album out titled A World Full of Grey (which has been critically acclaimed by many Australian reviewers) the band began most appropriately with a couple of new songs. Though the music provided by the band was just excellent, there was one thing that captured my full attention throughout the entire set, vocalist Danny Cecati. Using a vocal style made popular by metal groups such as Symphony X, Iron Maiden and King Diamond, Cecati was just brilliant in his vocal delivery providing a falsetto that surpassed every vocalist that night (and perhaps even some of his more famous influences). While Cecati provided a voice enough to make your hair stand on end, keyboardist Sammy Giaccotto was brilliant during his solo on Searching for Forgiveness and the rest of the band excellent in their power metal consistency. It was almost 11pm and Evergrey were just minutes away from performing. The crowd grew restless and began a chant that echoed off the walls of the small theatre. A few minutes later and Evergrey appeared onstage dressed in jet black leather pants, black t*shirts and a handful of silver chains and accessories. Saluting the crowd with the iconic 'devil-horn' gesture the band looked ready to provide a full-on power metal assault. // 7
Perfomance: Starting with the Evergrey classic Blinded, the group provided a powerfully electric performance that drew an incredibly enthusiastic response from the crowd. As the song ended, the band stood back looking somewhat puzzled as lead singer Tom Englund walked up to the microphone and said just one thing, wow. Clearly astonished at the reaction and admiration provided by the Australian fans the band payed their respects by playing fan favourites Nosferatu, A Touch of Blessing and Solitude Within as well as treating the audience to a keyboard solo, guitar solo, drum solo, and two encores! As the band progressed though new songs off album Monday Morning Apocalypse the energy intensified and the band appeared to be putting all their might into the show. Then, as Evergrey appeared to be leaving, drummer Jonas Ekdahl remained onstage while an intense white light covered his drum kit. Starting with some subtle cymbal work he progressively ascended his pace to show off his unique power metal style. As his solo drew over 5 minutes he was joined by guitarist Henrik Danhage and keyboardist Rikard Zander. Suddenly the drumming was silenced by the unique and mysterious sound of Zander's keyboard's that was again overlapped by Danhage's guitar work. Then it turned competitive. As one showed off on their instrument, the other responded with something louder, faster and heavier. While the competitiveness grew the drums came in, the band returned onstage and the theatre erupted into A Touch of Blessing. What came next was quite unusual. An obviously huge Evergrey fan walked onto the stage and started mimicking the guitarist's movements. While the band (and the crowd) found him to be hilarious, Danhage decided to give the fan his guitar as an 'opportunity to show of his Evergrey skills'. While it was difficult to hear him clearly it was great to see the band's good humour, any other famous band might have easily kicked him off the stage. Unfortunately as any good night at a metal gig the time had come for their final song of the night. As it finished each of the band members stood together in a neat line, linked hands and, in one theatrical movement, bowed together in appreciation of their 'phenomenal audience'. Having been captivated by their loyal legion of Aussie fans, Englund stepped up to the microphone, my friends, after the show you all deserve a beer, thank you so much! And they weren't kidding, when the show ended an announcement was made that Evergrey would come back out into the hall for an autograph session, to pose for photos and (for those Who lingered around until 2am) have some beers. // 8
Overall Impression: Performed at the Gaelic Theater in Sydney on May 11th 2006, Evergrey, Eyefear and Transcending Mortality transformed the theatre into an arena. With an approximate finishing time of 1am this is precisely how a true metal gig should be performed. Though the setting was very simplistic and the stage relatively small, Australian fans were treated to an absolute blast of power metal provided by musicians who were obviously passionate loyal to their profession. One very excellent night that I anticipate will return very soon. // 8