Review by Paul Quinton
A welcome second visit to the West Midlands inside a year for Lacuna Coil, although fingers were crossed that it was going to be better than their appearance at Birmingham’s HMV Institute last November. Nothing wrong with the performance, but the gig was marred by an absolutely appalling sound. With a move to a bigger venue this time around, the band had invested in a much more impressive light show, with bars of LEDs behind the band, and that certainly made for a very striking visual impression during the show.
For those who weren’t aware in advance, there was something of a surprise when the band made their entrance. The normal six-piece were missing drummer Cristiano Mozzati, following the birth of his child, and bassist Marco Zelati, suffering from tendinitis. Ryan Folden filled in on drums, but there was no sign of a bassist, so it appeared the band were relying a backing track, which is understandable under the circumstances, but ultimately proved to have a quite damaging effect on the gig as a whole. Not on the performance of the band, but because of the apparent difficulty in reconciling the backing track with the live performance sound.
As soon as the band began playing, the sound of the bass track dominated the overall mix, so much that it was difficult to hear Andrea Ferro’s vocals and even more so for Christina Scabbia from parts of the hall. Things cleared up slightly for the third song. ‘Senzafine’, and then Andrea delighted the crowd by announcing the first of a trio of songs from the ‘Comalies’ album, and one of the most popular, ‘Heaven’s a Lie’, in which the crowd needed little encouragement to sing the chorus. By this time, what wasn’t far off a full house at the Wulfrun were really getting into the show, but then followed one of the more curious set-list decisions seen there for a while.
The opening set had lasted around 45 minutes, but at that point Christina announced that they were taking a short break to, quote, ‘get changed’. This didn’t turn out to be a proper interval, as the house lights weren’t raised and the band were only off stage for less than five minutes, before Christina and the two guitars returned to begin a 5-song acoustic set with ‘Falling Down’, before being joined by Andrea to continue with ‘Closer’,‘Within Me’ and a beautiful version of ‘End of Time’. When they continued with ‘Shadow Life’, it did seem the crowd were getting a bit restless, anxious to get back to the full band in action, and but then they went off for another short break, again supposedly to get changed, although it did seem this was only to put on the matching jackets.
Again they were only off for a couple of minutes, with the house lights off and a drone track, before the band returned to play ‘Upside Down.’ The break seemed to have improved the overall sound greatly, and when they followed ‘To Live is to Hide’ with ‘Swamped’, it was the highlight of the whole show, and the band seemed to be somewhere near top form, although why this wasn’t the climax of the show seems a little strange. Good tracks as they are, even ‘No Need to Explain’ and ‘Trip The Darkness’ couldn’t quite match what had gone before, especially when the bass track problems returned. ‘My Spirit’ ended the set with the guitars and drums playing as the two vocalists left the stage and when the house lights didn’t come up immediately, it did seem as if there was to be an encore, but then the whole band came back just to take a bow and that was that.
Despite the problems with the sound, the odd make-up of the set and the missing band members, this was a far better gig than last year’s at the Institute, but it could have been so much better. Still a great band, just a need to work on the dynamics and pacing of the show.