EPICA is not only my favorite band but also one of the most important Symphonic Metal acts in the world and we just saw them kick-start a short world-tour in celebration of the 10-year-anniversary of their milestone album “Design Your Universe”.
The first of mere 17 concerts around the globe and only four in Europe was at the Turbinenhalle in Oberhausen – a venue I had heard a lot about but had never visited. Spoiler alert: EPICA was awesome!
Dutch band BLACKBRIAR was the only opening act for the first three shows.
I saw EPICA live in Cologne in November 2017 for the last time, while they were promoting their latest album “The Holographic Principle” and had chosen MYRATH and Anneke van Giersbergen’s new band VUUR as supporting acts for the tour. With this and earlier experiences in mind, I had high expectations for their chosen opener this time around.
My expectations were definitely set too high and I was badly disappointed by their choice, which I can only rationalize as wanting to give a chance to a female-fronted newcomer from their home country. BLACKBRIAR
BLACKBRIAR’s performance was unspectacular and even boring at times since many of their songs are alike and the performance repetitive. Nevertheless, the venue was already about half full with many, many eager
As the only supporting act, BLACKBRIAR had a whole of 45 minutes to perform – which went by too slow, since I didn’t enjoy their show at all. However, I applaud the courage it takes to open for Symphonic Metal legends like EPICA on an important tour such as this, but they could have stepped up their game a bit.
EPICA is on fire!
As soon as the first tones of ‘Samadhi’ start, the round two thousand fans present begin clapping and greeting the members of EPICA, who run onto a stage full of lights, props that spin around and Simone‘s mic stand that is now gold instead of silver.
As we know from EPICA, the band members wear stage outfits that match the colors of the album they are promoting, as does the set design – this time it was all glittery gold, like the re-released version of “Design Your Universe”. There were lots of pyrotechnics and the performance itself was absolutely on fire!
The setlist, of course, focused on the 10-year-old record, but the music was performed with fresh energy and improvisation. Obviously, each of the six musicians has gotten better and more skilled at their instruments in the past ten years, so they’re able to interpret their own songs in better ways – which is most notable in Simone‘s clear and effortless vocals.
To spice things up, the Dutch icons played the song ‘Quietus’ – off EPICA’s 2005-release “Consign To Oblivion” – for the first time in a long while, as well as – a bonus track from “The Quantum Enigma” – ‘In All Conscience’ for the first time ever! The band then went back to the album they’re currently celebrating, and played a fun medley of ‘Deconstruct’ and ‘Semblance of Liberty’. The only song they performed off the latest album was ‘Beyond The Matrix’, which was both a pity and a party, since Simone made the audience jump, as I’d seen at EPICA-concerts in the past few years. As much as I would have loved to listen to one or two more songs from the band’s latest masterpiece, I know that they have just too many great songs to pack in a two-hour show.
EPICA‘s performance is at its peak and not only musically. Mark, Isaac, Ariën, Rob, Coen, and Simone authentically enjoy playing live and stopped taking themselves too seriously as a professional band, in order to develop their entertainers’ sides – which they’ve achieved. Although Simone speaks fluent German, she didn’t talk to the Oberhausen-crowd in their native language, however. This is probably due to this special tour being set more as an international event than others. It played well with Mark and Coen also talking to and firing up the audience in English, too – the latter even jumping into the crowd with his curved keyboard.
The encore ended with ‘Consign to Oblivion’, as usual, and a golden confetti rain at 23:00 – twenty minutes later than planned. There were only short breaks in the two hours of performance, with at least one musician always on stage, except for a very short pause before the encores, which shows the impressive stamina of the musicians.
EPICA – “Design Your Universe” setlist:
Not as much stamina? The crowd! Although I’m used to German audiences being still and quiet, it shocks me again every time to be the only one singing, screaming and jumping around. This was such a special show, the only one in Germany on this tour and one of only four in Europe. It was worth giving the band all of their energy back during the gig.
Wherever you are in the world if you’re an EPICA-fan and get the chance to attend one of these few concerts, do it! And bang your head off and jump and enjoy it fully!
Upcoming EPICA Tour dates
Are you going to see one of EPICA‘s Design Your Universe-anniversary shows? Where? Tell us in the comments!