A live-streamed event in support of their latest album Ωmega (Nuclear Blast), Dutch sextet Epica pull out the stops for an explosive return to the stage, their first since the Coronavirus crisis began last year. Presented by Danny Wimmer presents and filmed at AED Studios in Belgium, the band are given a generous performance area to strut their symphonic stuff and they utilise every bit of space in typically bombastic style.
Split into five distinct sections, the band opens the first part – “Ωvertura” with a debut performance of ‘Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity’. Even with a cleverly designed stage set including ornate microphone stands, two metal cobra sculptures, and Coen Janssen‘s mobile keyboard which spins like a helicopter, it’s flame-haired singer Simone Simons who commands the viewer’s undivided attention. Clad entirely in black, not even the dancers performing behind drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek can draw any of the focus away as she belts out each note with piercing clarity. ‘The Skeleton Key’ includes an informally dressed children’s choir and a dancer in a German Wheel while ‘Unchain Utopia’ features fire dancers and Simons on an elevating platform holding a pair of lighted black flares.
After another brief video interlude, the “Magnituda” section kicks off with ‘The Obsessive Devotion’. Including elevating platforms and costume changes for all, Simons ends the song by gracefully swan-diving backward from the rear of the stage. Just switching microphones this time, ‘In All Conscience’ is followed by a venomous version of ‘Victims of Contingency’ featuring extras wearing plague doctor style masks, Janssen’s oddly shaped portable NUmotion keyboard, and a deluge of rain drenching everyone from above.
“Elysia” opens with ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ and sees another costume change for Simons plus a complete set redesign including a giant chandelier suspended from the ceiling. ‘Kingdom of Heaven – Part III – The Antediluvian Universe’ follows with dancers hanging from the chandelier with flaming sticks held between their toes, Janssen playing a blazing piano, and ends with a flaming gong. Of course, it does. Why wouldn’t it?
An A capella version of ‘Rivers’ opens “Gravita” with a full choir and another full costume and microphone change for Simons. ‘Once Upon a Nightmare’ follows next, featuring Janssen sat at a grand piano sharing the limelight with guitarist Isaac Delahaye until Simons joins them a few minutes later, encircled by fire. Obviously.
Reverting to something approximating the original stage set-up, the band launch into ‘Freedom – The Wolves Within’ before heading back to their 2003 debut, having loads of fun pulling faces and striking silly poses on ‘Cry For the Moon’ from The Phantom Agony (Nuclear Blast). Flag throwers enter the fray for ‘Beyond the Matrix’ before the band ends the song showered in a torrent of sparks. ‘Omega – Sovereign of the Sun Spheres’ concludes the “Alpha Ωmega”segment in gloriously overblown style. Dancers hang, spinning and gyrating from an infinity ring, the airborne acrobats joining the choir, fire dancers and flag throwers as fireworks and pyros illuminate the stage as the show reaches its flame-fuelled finale.
Directed confidently by Jens de Vos (a veteran of Kamelot and Ayreon video performances), the numerous cameras catch each member in full flow, sweeping and gliding around the stage, switching briskly between different angles without ever feeling like an attack on the senses. The stage lighting is superb, the sound crystal clear and everything combines in a magnificent spectacle which makes you desperate for live shows to return even faster.
Purchase Ωmega here:
ORDER ALBUM: http://nblast.de/Epica-Omega
LISTEN ON: http://nblast.de/Epica-OmegaDSP