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Hammersmith Apollo,London, 20 November 2006

2 years after their latest release and 3 years since the release of the platinum-selling 'Fallen', Evanescence finally returned to our shows to play slightly more modest venues than their last arena tour. Originally scheduled to play both Hammersmith and Manchester Apollo's, the tour was unfortunately cut short after this London gig, due to a 'family emergency' - but Amy Lee assured us during the show that the band would return to the UK in 2007.

Having entered the foyer at the Hammersmith Apollo, one could see notices all around the bar, giving the details of the set-times for the two bands. New York Alt Rock band Revelation Theory were allotted 40 mins and the headliners a measly hour from 21:15 to 22:15 - poor value for the ticket price. While I almost understood Evanescence playing for just 45 mins on the occasion of their first visit to London, some months after 'Fallen' had rocketed into the charts, but really, after 2 albums (not counting Fallen's predecessor, 'Origin'), they should have been able to play a longer set. At least the bar prices and merchandise was not correspondingly expensive.

The set plucked tunes almost equally from 'Fallen' and their recent release 'The Open Door' and included most of the crowd pleaser and all the bands singles. Opening with the first two tracks from the new album, the band certainly made a powerful start to the set and when vocalist Amy Lee made her way onstage, the crowd broke out into even larger cheers. It was clear from the beginning that she was the focus throughout the evening and her excellent, powerful, emotive singing soared above the thumping, bass-heavy accompaniment offered by the group of rather faceless individuals who provided the backing.

Drummer Rocky Gray and bassist Tim McCord provided a really solid foundation to the bands sound, but there was little elaboration made by twin guitarists Terry Balsamo and John LeCompt and their constant riffing became rather numbing by the end of the set. I think that I counted two brief guitar solos all evening, so it came as a blessed relief, when a grand piano was wheeled into the centre of the stage. 'Lithium' (the standout track from 'The Open Door' and the band's current single) and 'Good Enough' benefited enormously from the introduction of Lee's playing and the toned-down accompaniment. This proved to be the highlights of the evening's entertainment.

All together we heard 14 tunes. A dozen during the 55min set and then a couple of encores - with snippets of Slayer, Queen and some other bands used as bridges between various songs. The staging however was fairly dull and the lighting, which made heavy use of very powerful strobes but limited use of colours, was unspectacular also. There were no costume changes by the diva either.

More than anything, the show was professional to the point of being slick, but at the same time it was crying out for an injection of spontaneity and better use of light and shade in the songs. Thumping bass and riffing might work well with the kids, but it rather destroyed the subtlety of the band's best compositions. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Lithium' and the 'Fallen'-era material but I felt a strong desire to walk out before the end of the set. Lee is a fine and charismatic vocalist but beyond that, the band offer little. There is a wealth of female-fronted bands out there who can deliver a better show and better value for money.

Set list:

Sweet Sacrifice - Weight of the World - Going Under - The Only One - Haunted - Whisper - Lithium - Good Enough - Call me when you're Sober - Imaginary - Bring me to Life - Lacrymosa
My Immortal All That I'm Living For

Review by Charlie Farrell

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