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DELAIN, Assembly, Leamington 2 May 2011

Delain, photo by Andrew Lock

The first thing that struck me on approaching The Assembly was the queue formed around the building, one of the longest I have witnessed at the venue, Delain obviously have a healthy following in this country.

Gothic symphonic rock/metal is now one of my favourite genres but I had only come across Delain's name while scanning The Assembly gig list earlier this year.

This was surely one of the best value for money value nights at The Assembly to date, with three bands for less than 14, if tickets bought in advance, first from Wales the 4 piece impressive progressive rock band Lost in Thought with a confident rocking set of material from their debut album Opus Arise.

Serenity, photo by Andrew Lock

Next on stage from Austria the powerful symphonic rock band Serenity, with for me a touch of the German band Rammstein to their sound and style, and from the number of Serenity shirts around the hall the band also seem to have, like headliners Delain, a good following over here.

I was impressed with their set, lead vocalist Georg Neuhauser dressed in military style get up made an excellent frontman, with a strong vocal delivery and he worked the crowd well all set.

The band's latest album 'Death & Legacy' has just been released and if the tracks they performed in Leamington are anything to go by it's a cracker.

The majority of the set was uptempo and heavy but two gentler moments brought different female guest vocalists to the stage for duets; for a magnificent track titled 'Fairytale's' - almost a Gothic power ballad - Lisa Middelhauve (ex Xandria) joined the band, and later in the set the first appearance of the evening for Charlotte Wessels (Delain vocalist) to share vocal duties on a track from the new album.

Delain, photo by Andrew Lock

Headliners Delain from Holland were founded by ex- Within Temptation keyboard player Martijn Westerholt (so I really should have been aware of them!) who left that band due to ill health, and with vocalist Charlotte Wessels they have recorded two albums 'Lucidity' and most recently 'April Rain' in 2009.  Quite rightly, given their heritage they have a touch of Within Temptation as well as elements of Nightwish and Lacuna Coil.

The band are introducing a new guitarist on this tour, Timo Somers, and are currently preparing for the release of their third album from which they aired a couple of tracks at this gig.

Delain, photo by Andrew Lock

After the atmospheric intro music they made the brave move of starting with the impressive new number 'Manson' and right from the off it is clear that the band are heavier live than on album, this was followed by two tracks from the April Rain album, the magnificently grandiose 'Stay Forever' and the pounding 'Invidia'.

Another new track next, given the working title of 'Get the Devil Out Of Me' and another slice of powerful Gothic rock, next the first visit to the bands debut album from 2006 Lucidity with that album's opening number 'Sever'.

The rest of the set mixed tracks from the two albums along with one more new number 'Milk and Honey', standouts from April Rain included the the stunning title track itself starting with tender keyboards, adding rock riffs then becoming a catchy pop/rocker number and from the same album 'Virtue and Vice', from the Lucidity release the set included 'Shattered' and main set closer 'Pristine'.

Delain, photo by Andrew Lock

The band made full use of the spacious stage and many times guitarist Timo and bass player Otto could be found stood on the monitors at different sides playing and headbanging like crazy, in fact I have never seen as much hair flying about at any show before, with Charlotte joining in whenever possible.

The band have a rich full blooded sound, the music full of drama and passion, Charlotte is an impressive and charismatic performer, Martijn brings all the keyboard prowess he used to great effect in his Within Temptation days, Sander powerful on the drums, with the previously mentioned guitarist and bass player rocking up a storm.

At various stages in the set plumes of dry ice fired up to the ceiling of the venue making quite a spectacle.

Encores began with 'Sleepwalkers Dream', followed by the full on 'Control the Storm' and finally the crowd in full voice hands aloft for 'The Gathering', the set climaxed in spectacular fashion with confetti fired from the stage.

An excellent evening of music from three countries Wales, Austria and Holland, this is a genre I am getting into more all the time, it has many different labels, symphonic, Gothic, progressive, metallic.  But one thing for sure - it rocks - and in headliners Delain I think I have found another band to join my list of favourite artists.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock

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