Paradise Lost – Academy 2, Manchester 30/09/15


Following the release of their latest opusĀ The Plague Within, Paradise Lost are riding high on its success and we headed to their Manchester show to witness the plague for ourselves.

First to take to the stage were Berlin’s Lucifer, opening proceedings with a hearty dose of doomy psychedelic rock. Frontwoman Johanna Sardonis brought with her an aura of occult mystery conveyed through an almost ethereal vocal delivery, and her accompanying otherworldly dancing was captivating and a pleasure to watch. Sadly the microphone setup seemed to be slightly off, making the vocals somewhat muddy and harder to distinguish than they should have been, however the rest of the band made up for this slight fault by delivering the goods more than adequately.

There was a well rounded mix of slow crushing songs interspersed with plenty of mid-tempo riff-centric doom that got more than a few heads nodding. There could have perhaps been a bit more interaction with the crowd, but to be honest, most would agree that the music did the talking. The finishing song in particular, Izrael, was a solid close to the set, with a standout guitar solo and a certain memorable catchiness.

Tribulation were up next and immediately turned up the intensity, taking over the stage with their dark charisma. Best described as gothic-style heavy metal with hints of black and melodic death, and entirely deserving of a support slot for Paradise Lost, these young Swedes lived up to their country’s reputation of delivering an energetic, bombastic metal attack. The smell of incense wafted over the room as they ploughed through several energetic numbers, many of them from their new album Children of the Night, before we were treated to a wonderfully creepy atmospheric interlude to break up the set a bit.

The band did really well at creating a gothic atmosphere, their theatrical corpse paint and glam rock attitude matching perfectly with their music to deliver a show that was really entertaining to watch. The crowd seemed a tad docile at times but soon took to the band, largely thanks to the enthusiasm of all the members on stage, who showed obvious experience and passion in what they do. By the end of the set, there was plenty of hair swinging, and the fast and furious black metal punch they finished with left everyone satisfied.

However, the crowd truly came alive when Paradise Lost took to the stage and immediately opened with No Hope In Sight, filling the room with their melodic gothic majesty. The band members appeared fresh and full of energy – the Manchester date being one of the first of their The Plague Within tour – and this energy transferred to the crowd who were engaged from the word go. The show got underway with established hits like Gothic, Victim of the Past, Enchantment and Requiem being expectedly well-received, before some songs from the band’s newest offering The Plague Within were introduced, as well as some tracks from other recent albums like 2012’s Tragic Idol.

The high point of the set however, was perhaps the slow crushing doom of Beneath Broken Earth, frontman Nick Holmes’s comment, “Now we’re all pissed off!” and the band launching into As I Die to lighten the mood again. The contrast between the two songs really highlighted the varied and quality back catalogue this band has. Throughout the show, it was great to see the multi-faceted Holmes once again excelling at the style that arguably does him most justice, whilst remaining humble and relaxed and engaging with the crowd repeatedly, even praising crowd members for their beards at one point!

The show was brought to a conclusion with an excellent encore comprised of the epic majesty of Return to the Sun, the singalong favourites Faith Divides Us Death United Us and An Eternity of Lies and, after a slightly worrying equipment cutout that thankfully lasted only a few seconds, the familiar opening notes of Say Just Words started playing and the crowd erupted into cheers and rhythmic clapping. Of course they had to finish with that song, and it was a satisfying heartfelt singalong finish that left the audience smiling.

Overall, Paradise Lost were on very good form, with a nicely varied setlist covering both old and new styles, though mainly leaning toward the new, leaving old school fans a little wanting (the omission of any tracks from their landmark Icon album from the setlist was a tad disappointing, for example). However, it was great to see Paradise Lost pull off a fantastic start to their tour, but we’ve come to expect nothing less from these veterans.

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