Within Temptation storm Academy 2

The first time I witnessed Within Temptation, the tent was crammed, the tension mounting and the sound excellent. Their set at Download 2006 was immense and I was certainly excited to see the band again at Manchester's Academy 2. A strange venue to choose, given the recent technical difficulties at the venue and the fact that Within Temptation could have easily filled Academy 1.

The crowd tonight is quite mixed, ranging from small 10 year olds, right up to these in their sixties. In fact, even my parents are here at this gig. The appeal across the age groups is surely a tick in the right box for Within Temptation; some might feel the band isn't that rocking if they appeal to more than the teenage crowd but that wasn't the case this evening. Plenty of people are walking around with Nightwish T-shirts, clearly highlighting the genre that Within Temptation are grouped in. However, with the release of the new album, Within Temptation have proved that their style is ever evolving.

The support band are a strange lot. Plenty of "Guitar-wanking", coupled with weak vocals makes me wonder why "Lauren Harris" are on the bill tonight. A bad name, considering the band are let down by the very woman they are named after. Sure, she looks a little like Adel and can sing, but her style, her power and even her image, belong in a much more poppy band. And with the drummer showing off and the guitarist having an orgasm every-time he hits a solo, this band needs Scott Weiland as a front-man.

Within Temptation take to the stage with "Solemn Hour". The vocals are powerful as you'd expect although there are a couple of feedback problems to begin with. "The Howling" sounds a little higher pitched than the record version and by the time "Frozen" is sung, the recorded backing track makes itself a little too known. In fairness, there is no-way around a recorded backing track and Sharon can still show she can sing, but it does somewhat detract from the the performance.

"Stand my Ground" sounds ok. Just ok. I was expecting the crowd to go mental. Plenty of applause indeed but nowhere near enough movement. "Forsaken" reminds me of the band's roots, with plenty of "Dis Time" being sung. Still, it sounds more powerful and honest than the previous songs. Things really pick up with "The Cross"; Sharon showing off her voice with a powerful sounding staccato introduction. The lighting on her face at this point looked particularly ghostly, adding to the effect.

It's a pity Chris Caputo didn't show up. I was rather hoping the band would have filled in for his vocals but sadly, this wasn't the case. The acoustic guitar work made itself felt more here than on the record version of "What have you done now?". "The heart of everything" follows soon after; Sharon's voice losing none of its effect. If anything it sounds stronger further into the set. "Mother Earth" was a suprise, sounding a little different than the original, with Sharon's slightly harder voice. "See who I am", "Angels", "Hand of Sorrow" and "The Truth Beneath the Rose" all sound as you'd expect them to. Powerful, gothic metal with that distinctive wholesome, almost sledgehammer-solid sound-wave we've all come to expect.

Throughout the performance I was very disappointed with the crowd. Even whilst writing the review notes on my phone, I was still ever moving towards the front, almost moshing with the rhythm. Only till the encore did the crowd show any passion. The thudding and applause for an encore was more than all the elephants in the Serrengeti. "Memories" was bound to be played and I was certainly glad it was. Technical difficulties sadly hit just after with the backing track and secondary guitars both going haywire. The band did show some good spirit however and it's these moments that you never get to see. Robert dancing Honkey-Tonk style, Ruud playing a few riffs from "Eye of the Tiger" and Sharon talking about Download with the crowd certainly made up for the technical balls-up by the Academy. The band close with "Ice Queen", perhaps one of the best to close with - an all time favourite of the fans.

The technical hiccups didn't help but this band will never play a bad show regardless of technical issues or acoustics of the venue. Over use of backing tracks isn't the coolest thing ever. The lack of the softer songs like "Forgiven" and no "Aquarius" (I like Aquarius!) were trifle annoyances. Perhaps the addition of a piano at the next venue might help. The crowd should have been moved more but I feel that wasn't the fault of the band at all. Within Temptation played a great set and will no doubt, continue to do so.