Within Temptation serenade the Brixton Academy.

The air at Brixton Academy has an eerie atmosphere of anticipation this evening as the lights gradually dim down and a delightfully ornate stage becomes alive with colour, the black statues set against desolate rooftop screen becoming tinted with red, blues and greens. The band certainly knows how to capture an audience and all that can be felt amongst the crowd as an intense feeling of tension and longing.

But it is not long before Within Temptation deliver in a way that only they know best, loud proud entering into a powerful and driven ‘Julian’ from ‘The Silent Force’. Sharon elegantly arrives on stage in an amazingly beautiful and probably very heavy red Tudor style dress and her voice is on top form, easily able to carry across the Academy and the adoring fans’ screams with or without a microphone. The song is played as spellbindingly as it sounds on the record with amazing visualisations to accompany and moody lighting dancing perfectly across the band’s silhouette, complimenting the mood of the song explosively. The performance is just outstanding, with the band’s stage presence powerful and enticing, Sharon every so often entertaining with delicate twists of her wrists and arm gestures to help deliver the story, while the guitarists bounce to the rhythm, delivering the song in just that little bit more of a personal way.

Sharon then quickly saunters off stage, her amazing dress clearly too heavy to carry on for longer and emerges back clad in scarlet corset and black skirt for a dynamic performance of ‘The Howling’. The band delivers this explosively, with crunching guitar work easily over taking the sampled orchestra and ringing throughout the Academy delighting the head banging crowd, creating a kind of Mexican wave of metal hair throughout the song. The crowd is roaring for them and the band deliver, encouraging the crowd to join in with their songs and being everything that a good band should be onstage. The lights drop to a deep blue and Sharon dives down into elegant sweeping movements as the band strike up the haunting and outstanding ‘Stand My Ground’. Clearly a favourite with the crowd as everyone sings along and strobe lights pick out the details of silhouetted metal horns. Sharon’s voice never fails to amaze and cut through the air like glass on skin, perfectly supported and angelic in its execution. She dances with the guitarists, occasionally singing to her husband Robert Westerholt in jesting fashion but her main interest for tonight still lies with the audience, which she serenades and interacts with flawlessly. Shortly following is the eerie and spine chilling ‘The Cross’, which is led in by Sharon’s chilling display of her vocal technique, mixing operatic scales with barking notes, effortlessly showing off the band’s musical flexibility. Ruud Jolie serenades with a beautiful mandolin solo throughout the verses underneath Sharon’s ever flowing and pain stricken voice, telling the story of the song with such feeling and very believable emotion. The power of the song is multiplied a thousand times live and is well suited to the dynamics of an auditorium as it encompasses the entire audience with its spellbinding cloak of sound.

‘What Have You Done’ then follows, providing the crowd with something to sing along to, and indeed Robert asks the crowd to fill in the ‘What Have You Done’s before the choruses to which they happily oblige. The same goes for ‘The Heart of Everything’ where the Academy is almost shaking with the sound of people jumping up and down, the feeling is intense, the air thick with enjoyment.
But the real showstopper comes when the up lighters that have been softly changing colour all night are finally lit on fire and become torches, filling the stage with a warm and cosy amber glow and Sharon delivers a real treat, an acoustic version of ‘Restless’ which is just as mind-blowing and packs ten times the power that the electric version does. Sharon’s voice is ever expressive, flowing gently over a sea of swaying lighters, adding a touch of warmth to the atmosphere as does the following ‘All that Stands Forgiven’.

The lights suddenly turn red and a long sinister introduction comprising of recordings of Winston Churchill’s war speech herald the beginning of ‘Our Solemn Hour’. Dark and heavy the guitars drive forth the powerful riffs that make up the chorus, and delivering a real taste of how demanding their metal can be, a power matched only by their following weapon, the beautiful and elegant ‘The Truth Beneath the Rose’, a real display of the sheer beauty and range of Sharon’s vocals. Before bowing out to finish for the night, the band deliver a well received encore of ‘Mother Earth’, ‘Deceiver of Fools’ and ‘All I Need’ leaving the Brixton Academy with an air of elegance and an assured reason of why Within Temptation are one of the top bands in Gothic metal. They are enchanting and powerful with the deliverance of their spell binding and deliciously addictive sound and will continue to command bigger and bigger venues as they grow more and more well known. One thing is for sure however, that the UK loves them and that tonight’s show is a herald of good things to come for the following UK dates. Within Temptation put on a show that is not to be missed.