Review by Paul Castles, Photos by Mark Lloyd
Paradise Lost have been celebrating their 25th anniversary together by going back on the road with a really strong looking triple header bill. It’s fair to say that Lacuna Coil and Katatonia can draw decent sized crowds in their own right but on this occasion they were happy to play second fiddle to the illustrious Yorkshire headliners.
I may as well come clean from the off and say that of the three acts my preference is very much for Katatonia, hence my jaw-dropping state of horror when I reached the Black Country venue just as they were leaving the stage! A combination of factors, certainly not worth documenting here, prevented me from reaching the Wulfrun in time to catch the Swedes. Very much my loss but apologies to all concerned. I hope to get back on their xmas card list by reviewing their set at the Damnation Festival in Leeds.
Lacuna Coil have been successfully performing their brand of Euro goth-coated metal for many years now. The six band members, including vocalist Cristina Scabbia, were kitted out in identical black military-style shirts and fittingly gave an efficient, if at times a little sterile, performance.
They seem to be veering further away from the goth-metal roots and the sound and presentation these days is pretty mainstream stuff. Cristina’s got a powerful voice and on numbers such as ‘Fragments of Faith’, from the 2006 Karmacode album, she has the scope to show off her undoubted talents. Equally, ‘Our Truth’ saw Cristina’s wailing intro cascading through the Wulfrun like a tidal wave.
Turning back time a few more years, Cristina and the crew really got the Coilers jumping with ‘Heavens A Lie’, one of the Italians’ best. Lacuna Coil have that double vocal hook that can work well at times but also appears clumsy on occasions. The male-female contrast has always been relatively unique to Lacuna Coil but while Cristina does an admirable job, and is very much the star turn, the exaggerated antics of her co-vocalist Andrea Ferro does become somewhat irritating. When not actually singing he lapses into posturing and facial expressions that, while suitable to a West End stage, the am-dram approach just looks out of place at what’s supposed to be a gig. While they dispensed with their traditional Depeche Mode cover crowd-pleaser ‘Enjoy the Silence’, Lacuna Coil closed their set with staple live favourites ‘Follow Me’ and ‘Spellbound’.
Paradise Lost entered to a symphonic welcome with a pale green light adding an ambient touch. Stand out tracks were the sweeping slowburner ‘Enchantment’ from the 1995 album Draconian Times, a gothic crusher that almost moves into Sisters of Mercy territory.
‘Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us’ was another classic from the extensive back catalogue from which choosing just a handful of songs to squeeze into an hour’s set is about as easy as climbing Kilimanjaro in flip-flops.
There was a good turn out at the Wulfrun and it’s probably testament to the fact that after a quarter of a century Paradise Lost still produce music that sounds interesting and fresh. ‘Tragic Idol’ the title track from the band’s most recent album is a case in point, a great beast of a track that pounds along like a hungry hippo trampling everything underfoot.
This was something of a hometown gig for frontman Nick Holmes although his repeated cry of ‘Alright Wolvo?’ did jar somewhat, especially as he had already established that probably well over half the crowd did not even come from the Black Country capital!
Paradise Lost have evolved down the years and while tracks such as ‘Remembrance’ still carry a hint of death metal songs such as the smooth-runner ‘So Much is Lost’ is so different that it’s almost as though it’s another band. I could personally do without the assorted images flickering away throughout the set on a giant screen. The music speaks for itself. Leave the big screen to Star City. A sustained encore featured another early classic in ‘True Belief’ and judging by the rapturous ovation awarded Paradise Lost at the end there are still plenty of believers out there.
See more of Mark’s photos here;