WT. WTF?!! This night had been a long time coming for Within Temptation fans who’d bought tickets for the gig 16 months ago but boy was it worth the wait. Really.
Whether or not Dutch symphonic metal is your bag (and who knew just how massive this genre had become as the pre-gig queue snaked around three sides of the Academy) there was absolutely no denying that Sharon den Edel and co. delivered one of the shows of the decade at a venue drowned in delirium.
Ably assisted by fellow countrymen Delain this was a deliciously overblown double header with acoustics par excellence, a light show to die for and production values reflecting Within Temptation’s remarkable rise from niche rockers to mainstream draws. This was an arena show squeezed into a former bingo hall and the atmosphere was electric.
Delain looked, sounded and played like the headline act with Charlotte Wessels pitch perfect as she bounced through the band’s classy back catalogue. New tunes Stardust and Army Of Dolls, from 10-day-old The Human Contradiction, drew the odd quizzical look but both will become firm crowd favourites.
Wrapping up with the title track from 2012’s We Are The Others it was obvious Delain, with their dominant backdrop and talent to die for, wanted more. One day soon, Charlotte.
Behind Delain’s huge banner the Within Temptation crew had been hard at work to craft the perfect stage for the Dutch masters. Whether half of what lay within the two monster trucks parked stage right made it into the Academy is anyone’s guess but a futuristic set was way beyond the standard fare for this tight venue.
Den Adel’s entrance was typically flamboyant but any fears that style would trump substance were swiftly assuaged. Launching into the anthemic Let It Burn, the singer was straight into her stride – capturing the fervent crowd’s attention against a backdrop of hi-resolution video and those mesmerising lights.
At times it was just too much. Such was the scale of a genuinely epic event that the Academy couldn’t really cope: the lights wanted to shine further, the sound was compressed and the crowd – with the possible exception of those seated upstairs – were in no position to appreciate the full magnitude of an unrivalled rock show.
From start to finish Within Temptation nailed it. A furious version of Faster, the atmospheric Angels and a stirring Stand My Ground were simply spectacular. And We Run – featuring Xzibit on the big screen – worked a treat with Hydra’s big hits an obvious source of pride for den Edel and her band mates. Hitting number six in the UK album charts earlier this year it’s a record that’s set to stand the test of time and confirm Within Temptation as modern greats.
Mother Earth brought the main set to a triumphant close before a four-song encore gave the greedy die-hards their fill. Two hours after Within Temptation kicked off one of the finest rock n roll shows Tyneside has hosted in years it was time for the Ice Queen to sign off in style. Anything else this year will seem disappointingly ordinary.