STREAM OF PASSION
Added as support act at the eleventh hour for Leaves' Eyes short European tour in the build up to both bands slots at the prestigious Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium, Mexican/Dutch outfit Stream of Passion are a more than welcome replacement for Visions of Atlantis. Ironically, the Austrian sympho-power metallers are also due to appear at said festival but opted not to do these handful of dates to rest male singer Mario Plank who was apparently not feeling so good to make sure he's fine for the Belgian fest. I always find it a little lame when bands cancel small club shows and not the bigger ones, albeit both just a few days apart, although what is Visions of Atlantis' loss is Stream of Passion's gain. Last night in Manchester and tonight in London provide them with what is effectively their debut gigs on these shores in their present day guise, having only performed here once before back in the Arjen Lucassen era of the band some years ago (and not forgetting a previously failed attempt at UK shows whereupon they were blocked by airport customs due to the lineup's Mexican contingent). Walking out on stage to a fairly packed Underworld, they launch into the first track from latest album 'Darker Days', 'Lost'. With a sound as good as the Underworld's acoustics and PA will allow, Stream of Passion look boldly confident from the off as they work their way energetically through the track's prog structure with its symphonic grandiosity and melodic charms sounding rather awesome in a live context, and significantly heavier than its recorded version. A polite crowd applaud at the end of the song with a few opting to cheer but it's not until half way through the band's set that they seemingly win over the audience good and proper. 'The Flame Within' track 'When You Hurt Me the Most' seems to be a turning point and captivates most present with its purely sublime vocal melodies as Marcela Bovio demonstrates her singing par excellence (and her talent with a bow and violin earlier in the set with 'In the End'). So when their inventively heavied-up cover of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit' follows, everyone is on the band's side with a display of arms in the air and loud cheers that are ubiquitous throughout the venue. Marcela states she's too overwhelmed for words to express how happy she is with such a positive audience reaction and it's certainly pleasing to see a crowd won over so emphatically by a band that are, at least in my opinion, worthy of far more attention in the UK. 'Out in the Real World' from debut album 'Embrace the Storm' is aired towards the end of the set, and 'Passion' appears earlier on, so it's nice to see a couple of nods towards their Arjen roots albeit with a significantly different lineup these days. Darker days? I don't know about that as it's very much happy days in the Underworld this evening and Stream of Passion's impromptu addition to the billing is one that has led to the discovery of this fine band for a whole load of Leaves' Eyes' fans and no doubt helped boost their profile over here. And deservedly so for a band that are as slick, tight, entertaining and thoroughly professional in their performance as Stream of Passion.
Friday 21st October 2011
Camden Underworld in London, UK
Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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STREAM OF PASSION
With no shortage of live appearances in the UK over the past 3-4 years as both a support band and at festivals, it's refreshing to see Liv Kristine and co back on these shores for a couple of full headline shows. With last night's date in Manchester apparently a near sellout, this evening in London has also fared well with tickets totalling 400+ presales and, judging by the mass of sweaty bodies crammed into the Underworld's 500 or so capacity, evidently yet more fans have turned up on the day to pay on the door. Leaves' Eyes' popularity in the UK is seemingly on the up, no doubt aided by mightily impressive performances at both Bloodstock Open Air and the Koko last year in support of Kamelot, and the release earlier this year of what, for me, is their strongest album to date, 'Meredead'. Hitting number 41 in the UK indie charts, it seems many of the band's loyal supporters who purchased the album have come from far and wide to catch them in action. Following Stream of Passion's mindblowing set was going to be no easy task but the current multi-national formation of Leaves' Eyes with Norwegian, German, Austrian and Dutch members rise to the challenge and deliver on all counts - both musically and visually. As lights dim and the intro to new album track 'Spirits' Masquerade' plays through the PA, band members wander out to huge cheers and are joined a few moments later by Liv to even greater crowd noise. Attired in one of her trademark flowing dresses and emanating graceful sophistication and entrancing elegance through her stage presence, attention is all on the frontwoman as she weaves ethereal vocal melodies, note perfect, into the polarised heavy/mellow passages of music. Reaching forward to hold hands with various crowd members stood at the front, respect between band and audience is reciprocated as a sea of smiling faces are clearly in love with Leaves' Eyes and their enrapturing tunes. Another 'Meredead' track is up next, 'Velvet Heart', before reverting to their debut, 'Lovelorn', for an airing of 'Ocean's Way' which sees Alex Krull join his band mates to heavy it up a little by injecting some death growls into the mix. All the band's releases are more or less evenly represented within a near hour and a half set, including new track 'Melusine' which has yet to be officially released here and Alex acknowledges this by telling the crowd that, "we'll bring the song to you instead". Their cover of Mike Oldfield's 'To France' brings the set to a close before they shortly return for the lengthy 'Njord' track 'Fr°ya's Theme' for an encore. Bows are taken and the band exit the stage to rapturous applause and loud cheers from a discernibly satisfied crowd. A mightily impressive performance.
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