Review by Paul Quinton
Sad to relate this was the final UK date on the farewell tour by Dutch symphonic metal band Stream of Passion. The official statements indicate the band feel that they have taken things as far as they can and are separating to pursue individual projects, and so the prospect of seeing the band for the last time, other than a farewell show in Holland to be filmed for a DVD, brought a decent crowd to the Robin, including one dedicated party who’d travelled all the way from Chile to say goodbye.
There’s been a local band as second support on each gig, and tonight it was the turn of Dudley’s Winterstorm. It’s a shame but on each occasion I’ve seen the band, they’ve been in this situation, and, as before, were having to perform on a portion of the stage that can best be described as ‘cramped’. Nevertheless, this was probably the best performance I’ve seen them give to date. I think this was partially through having the services of Awake by Design keyboard player Janson at their disposal, as his fine playing added some extra depth and colour to their sound and, as a result, their songs came over really well. ‘Maximum Design’, in particular sounded really good, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the keyboard part being reminiscent of Rush’s ‘Analog Kid’, and they had the confidence to finish their set with two new songs, with ‘Firedancer’ being particularly impressive. I do think that while Hannah Fieldhouse is a capable guitarist, her dual role takes away something from her as a singer, and, restricted stage space or not, also makes the band a bit static on stage. However, with a new album in preparation, if the rest of the new material is on a par with what we heard tonight, the band will be worth watching out for.
While Awake By Design have occasionally headlined The Robin in their own right, more often they seem to be cast in the role of perennial support band. For all the promise of their early days, they’ve never quite been able to move up a level, possibly due to what seems like an almost constantly changing line-up, and in many ways this set summed the band up, starting promisingly, but petering out toward the end, although being fair, the sound wasn’t quite as good as it was for Winterstorm, with the guitars not being very audible in the first couple of songs. Credit to the band for playing a couple of new songs, ‘Oceans Of Hope’ in particular being an ambitious song, going through several moods before turning into something quite Rainbow- like, which was interesting, and guitarist Luke Hatton, who I hadn’t seen playing with the band before, is a very promising player, putting together some pretty impressive solos. But overall, the set didn’t really seem to take off, and although the crowd gave them a fairly warm hand at the end, it did feel like it finished with more of a whimper than a bang.
I think the last time Stream Of Passion graced this particular stage was in headlining the 2014 Dames of Darkness Festival, although we did see them backing, and supporting, Anneke van Giesbergen in the UK on the rather brilliant Gentle Storm tour in 2015, but as both of those occasions were mainly about promoting the band’s last studio album, A War Of Our Own, the set list for these farewell shows was at least partly chosen by the fans, which meant it was a nice overview of the band’s entire career.
After a suitably dramatic intro tape, the band entered one by one, and began with a couple of songs from the last album, the powerful ‘Monster’ followed by the title track, and it was obvious the band were determined to go out on a high, at least as far as the UK was concerned, as they sounded excellent, with the power of the songs laced with a strong streak of the epic, and Marcela Bovio’s immense vocal range giving the songs their emotional power. ‘In The End’ saw the first appearance of her Flying V shaped violin, which not only gives the band a unique visual focal point, but adds even more depth to their sound and introduces a melancholy, almost, yes, gothic element, although it could have been higher in the mix. If this farewell was to be an emotional show, the band, and fans, had chosen the songs well, as Marcela said, all the songs seemed to be the dramatic ones, but she seemed to appreciate this and gave us a superb performance. There was even an opportunity to hear songs from the first album released under the Stream of Passion name, when the band were a project of Arjen Lucasson, although two of them were saved for the second encore, the main set was graced with a tremendous ‘Out In The Real World’.
The band have been playing their cover of Radiohead’s ‘Street Spirit’ for a while now, and it does fit both Marcela’s voice and gives the set a change of pace, tonight it was almost at the end of the main set, leading straight into ‘This Endless Night’, which brought things to a suitable climax. However, if I have a serious criticism of this show, it’s that this part of the set lasted barely an hour, which, for a headliner’s farewell performance in this country, is not good enough. Yes there were three bands on the bill, and the Robin always has a curfew on a Sunday, but this was very disappointing, and cast a bit of a shadow over what was otherwise a memorable gig.
For all the brevity of the main set, there was quite a lengthy encore, opened by Marcela singing another cover, Sonata Arctica’s ‘I Have A Right’, accompanied only by Jeffrey Revet on piano, before going into what was the highlight of the show, ‘The Curse’, but only after Marcela had taught the crowd to join in on the chorus, then to finish the show it was back to the band’s debut as they ended their final visit to the UK with, perhaps appropriately, ‘Nostalgia’ and a cracking ‘Haunted’, which was a genuine high note to finish on. Farewell, Stream of Passion, you will be missed.