Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Is it really 4 years since the Hydra world tour took place. 4 years since the album was also released. Time does fly but it also makes us more and more desperate for new material from the bands that we follow and with new release ‘Resist’ due on December 14th it’s time to remind us why the Dutch outfit hold such a special place in fans’ hearts.
Brixton Academy sold out well in advance of the show and it’s not at all surprising. The last time they played in London they filled Wembley Arena so tickets for a more ‘intimate’ show of around 5,500 people were always going to be hot property for the band who had recently teased us with a new single featuring Papa Roach lead vocalist Jacoby Shaddix.
That song along with two others from ‘Resist’ make up the opening trio of songs performed at Brixton. A gamble for sure when very few people know the newer material. ‘The Reckoning’ goes down well even without Jacoby on hand. Opener ‘Raise Your Banner’ sees Sharon do exactly that, dressed in a hooded white smock, she flies the flag helping set the scene for the show to come. Visual, theatrical and memorable.
The first few tracks of the set, giving us a taster of what to expect from the album will, I’m sure, result in a few more pre-orders of ‘Resist’. Obviously it would have been better to release the album and then tour on the back of it but the timing is close enough and the sold out crowd lapped up every single moment.
Come song number four of the evening though and the band pull out all of the stops. With a stage set that looked like a mix between something Alice Cooper might use with a screen borrowed from Pink Floyd at their most theatrical, the band made the most of every inch of the space afforded to them and delivered ‘In The Middle of The Night’. Coming from ‘The Unforgiving’ an album that ranks in my top 10 releases of all time, this was the moment I’d been waiting for. Epic, energised, perfect in every way it would also be the first of four songs from the album making me more than happy to chalk up the night to a complete success.
I’ve read that some people found the Brixton sound that night a little problematic but I have to say ‘not from where I was standing’. Having spent time on the floor close to the stage, by the bar at the back and also up on the first floor balcony as I wandered around the venue looking for different vantage points, the sound seemed fine to me. I guess I got lucky.
With the centre of the stage essentially given up to allow Sharon to do her thing (and do it she did, working the crowd perfectly into a frenzied mass, singing back every song to her word for word) the effective layout allowed for both drummer Mike Coolen and keyboard player Martijn Spierenburg elevated platforms on which to showcase their skills, leaving the floor free for the two guitarists and bassist to continually swap sides around Sharon. The end result being a flowing colourful dynamic with the circular video screen providing the perfect centre piece.
The hits flowed thick and fast and although it was brave, adding four out of ten tracks from the new album did prove that the new material sits against the well known material very well indeed.
But they saved the best till last with Brixton Academy offering the space required to allow Sharon to ascend on wires during the encore of Stairway to the Skies making the layout of the sculpted stage set suddenly become completely logical. What had previously seemed like unusual ram’s horns in effect that sprouted from the centre of the stage left enough room in the middle for Sharon and a voluminous white gown to slowly levitate and in essence make her look like and ascending Angel floating above the stage. A wonderful effect and a one that allowed the show the finish with an epic climax.
Raise Your Banner
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
All I Need
Shot in the Dark
Paradise (What About Us?)
The Heart of Everything
What Have You Done
Stairway to the Skies