Live Review : Within Temptation @ O2 Apollo, Manchester on November 10th 2018

Let's get this out there first, during the entire gig the sound is utterly atrocious. It is far too quiet, the guitar and bass are lost in a muddy quagmire and the whole thing sounds like it is being relayed through a dodgy mono radio. I believe that protracted conversations at gigs should be defined as a criminal offence and with the sound so muffled and faint you can hear quite clearly every single conversation happening across the packed Apollo, most of them about why the sound is so dreadful.

The horrific acoustics means that the connection between band and the audience is tenuous at best. This is not helped by the fact that Within Temptation start with three tracks from their yet to be released new album ‘Resist’. A brave almost confident move that would usually signal a band that is comfortable and secure in the relationship it has with its fans. However combined with the aforementioned attritious sound it results in a muted and understated start that sadly the rest of the show struggles to recover from.

We do get more familiar material, in fact well loved tracks 'Stand My Ground', 'All I Need' and 'Shot in the Dark' are all chucked out in the first forty-five minutes, but that's the point, they are chucked out. As slick as the production and stagecraft are, (the staging resembles the bastard child of Bladerunner and Stargate and the onstage actions are synchronised to within an inch of their lives) it just lacks warmth and humanity. The shocking sound (have I mentioned it's atrocious throughout?) just adds to that feeling of detachment between band and audience. There are evidently many here who are enjoying it and getting lost in the music, but no matter how hard I try to truly get all the layers and sonic nuances usually present in Within Temptation’s production, the majority of us stand passively watching but not feeling involved.

The encore is called more passionately than I was expecting given the issues and during 'Stairway to the Skies' vocalist Sharon den Adel is hoisted majestically into the air, her white dress billowing behind her like some ethereal vapour trail. Highly impressive but furthered my feeling that I was watching a show rather than participating in a gig. My overall feel as I exited was one of disappointment as I felt horrific sound and an over stylised approach had neutered what should have been an amazing live experience.

Words by Stewart Lucas