By Thomas Arena
I knew NOTHING about this band, never heard a note of their music before, and now I’m left wondering why, what a surprising show! I was expecting something between a neo and symphonic act, still more song based than anything. Instead we got some pure, symphonic bliss, mixed in with many other styles, from gothic rock to prog-metal and even pop, they did cover a wide range.
Leading the way was guitarist Dave Cureton, and as I suspected from the performance, was keyboardist Adam Gough. They make a great writing team. The keys could easily have dominated the soundscape, but they found a way to not step on each other’s musical toes and blended well.
Cureton can definitely shred, but that is not really what they are about. Despite all the great chops, they are really about mood and atmosphere. Helping hold that sound together is the powerful yet at time ethereal vocals of the lovely Claire Malin. Ok, so she walks out on stage in a long gown and a somewhat creepy mask. I’m wondering if we are about to get some over the top theatrics. No, that was as far as she took it. But she was a commanding presence, especially with that long, platinum blonde hair, she was hard not to notice. She tried maybe too hard to get the crowd to clap along. I reminded them later in the few seconds I talked to them not to worry about the crowd not seeming pumped up just because we are so incredibly tired by late Sunday.
Well by the end of the show, that enthusiasm was certainly there. As for Malin’s vocals, I knew she could sing from the night before where she sang some old standard at the after-party. But in a concert setting, wow, I had no idea she had so much power and range. She was no mere eye candy, she’s quite a talent. While much of the set was symphonic in style, they actually finished with a more poppy, catchy tune, something actually danceable. And it worked, it still had their trademark sounds, just in a more assessable way.
They said this one is well liked by their English fans. Good tune, but I hope they don’t head in this direction for most of their music. Still, it was an energetic way to close things out. For their first trip to the US, it was a triumph, they appeared to be this year’s buzz band, almost to the level of District 97 last year. I hope I get to hear them again in the future. Picked up their recent album right away after the set.
Grade: A Biggest surprise of festival!