Within Temptation - O2 Academy Brixton
Shivers down the spine, goose bumps rising, strange feelings in the pit of your stomach... The utterly gorgeous vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen have five thousand people feeling these as she flies through her thirty minute set. Known as long-time vocalist of criminally under-rated pioneers The Gathering (without whom in all likelihood we would not have tonight's headliners), she woos and mesmerizes the crowd with her dark, rich, angelic voice. Only one track from her former band appears, with 'Saturnine' almost making grown men cry; the rest of her set serves as a brilliant introduction to her more recent work, from the breakneck opening of 'Fury', through the heartbreakingly sorrowful ' Circles', to the frantic 'Witnesses' that brings the set to a triumphant close.
Within Temptation certainly know how to put on an entertaining show, and with nary a cheap gimmick or theatrical trick in sight. Relying on the grandiose music, spectacular lighting and a dazzling front woman, the band whip the eager audience into a frenzy as they open up with the first third of the recent The Unforgiving. Easily the band's most accomplished work, the likes of 'In The Middle Of The Night' and 'Faster' marry gothic pomp with some perfect pop sensibilities, but still with a bombastic, heavy core that simultaneously shakes the foundations and blows the roof from the Brixton Academy.
The ever-present 'Ice Queen' is the first step back in time, and although no longer the traditional closer, still has the entire crowd belting out every last word. A raft of singles such as 'Stand My Ground' and 'What Have You Done' elicit similar reactions from the buzzing fanatics rammed into the sold out venue; the consummate easy with which Within Temptation seems to roll out blinding track after memorable tune is frankly stunning. 'Our Solemn Hour' seems highly appropriate on Remembrance Day, as clips of Churchill's famous speeches play out over a backdrop of wartime videos, a riotous tribute to those lost in the great wars of the twentieth century.
The first encore of 'See Who I Am' and 'Mother Earth' is very much Within Temptation at their best, Sharon den Adel's vocals weaving a stunningly gorgeous web around the thunderous guitars as beauty dances with the beast. The finale of 'Stairway To The Skies' appears an odd choice at first, but as the band expand and build on the studio version, it come alive in startlingly clarity, guitarist Ruud Jolie cutting lose as this majestic night is brought to a close on a magnificent high.