Evanescence bring their history to life on spectacular, super-intimate livestream
Normally, a year in which Evanescence were forced to delay the release of their latest album would be the stuff of nightmares for fans. This is after all a band who, over two decades into their career, still only have three original studio albums to their name. Contrary to expectation, however, 2020 has actually proven to be one of their most prolific years yet. Not only has the pandemic seen them release a string of new singles (more in one year than any other in their existence, in fact), we’ve also had a slew of filmed-from-home video content, revealing interviews and, the latest in this rush of activity, this past weekend’s livestream gig.
Before a note is even played it’s revelatory in nature. To begin, Amy Lee races through fan questions for half an hour and covers everything from her recent Bring Me The Horizon collaboration to an upcoming cassette release that’s “not the album, but is to do with it”. At times the conversation is deeply moving, such as Amy talking about the loss of her brother; at others it’s hilarious as she disappears from view and we hear her rummaging through her home to dig out a keyboard to show the presets for Swimming Home. There is one key message above all else tonight: “The album’s done!” Amy beams. The Bitter Truth, due on March 26, 2021, is finally on its way. But first? A chance to hear how some of it sounds live.
Recorded at Nashville’s Rock Falcon studio, we are first greeted with the sight of the band – albeit with guitarist Jen Majura and bassist Tim McCord joining remotely from Germany and California respectively – opening with their new album’s brilliant lead single Wasted On You. While recent livestreams seem to be becoming ever more bold in the production stakes, this is clear reminder that none of these trimmings are needed. There’s no pyro. No blinding lights. Just the band flanked by low-wattage bulbs, flickering candles and amps in the space where they’ve been recording their latest album. There’s an intimacy here you just don’t get with exploding CO2 canons.
Amy Lee’s in spectacular voice throughout but no more so than the second song, The Game Is Over. Indeed, it’s only when seeing her perform it up close that you realise the sheer level of exertion required to belt it out. There’s a strong chance mere mortals would die if they tried to tackle this one at karaoke. Put another way: Amy more than earns her tea break straight afterwards.
From there the set temporarily zigs and zags between highlights from Evanescence’s back catalogue. There’s the wonderful surprise of The Open Door classic The Only One (“An oldie that just feels right for now,” explains Amy) being dusted off. It’s followed by their self-titled album’s Sick (“The lyrics have never meant as much to me as they do right now,” says Amy) and Goooooooing Uuuuuuuuunder, which is given some extra crunch courtesy of Jen Majura.
Elsewhere, rousing recent single Use My Voice is given an emotional introductory speech, while Amy uses Bring Me To Life to draw attention to the felt-absence of the crowd. “This isn’t going to be quite the same without you guys all singing back to me,” she says beforehand. While it’s true that nothing can replace the ecstatic power of band/audience interaction, there is something to compensate for it. Quite frankly, the sight of The Bitter Truth producer Nick Raskulinecz air drumming and miming the whole way through their 2003 anthem is worth the price of admission alone. We see you, Nick. We see you.
As the set comes into its home strait, Amy declares her intention to “shift gears” and moves over to an acoustic piano. First comes a gorgeous solo rendition of Lost In Paradise – one of the finest songs in their canon. What’s truly impressive isn’t just the notes Amy hits, but rather the way she inhabits the feeling of the words. Through its elegant, slowburn passages, she delivers the lyrics as if she’s coming up with the words on the spot, rather than merely reciting them. It’s a stunning, vulnerable performance that sets up the poignant closing cover of Portishead’s Glory Box.
Given that this is but a nine-song set, there are obviously some big tracks missing, not least their compelling new single Yeah Right which sees Evanescence surprisingly tapping into the same kind of electro-glam stomp Goldfrapp practiced circa 2003. In truth, though, it wouldn’t have fit. This brilliantly conceived set isn’t concerned with ticking every box, it’s about capturing a particular mood. Evanescence present a collection of songs that speak to the particular pressures, agonies and hopes of the here are now. And it’s spectacular.
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