Live review: Delain, Serenity, Cellar Darling at TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, October 31th, 2017

It is October 31, the Dutch day of the Danse Macabre tour with special guest Marco Hietala of Nightwish. The expectations were high if you ask me. I have seen Delain earlier during the Moonbathers tour and also many times before, so I knew what they were capable of. Now, with such a special guest as Marco Hietala it had to be a kick ass show!

First on the stage there was Cellar Darling. To them the humble task was given to open the show and warm up the audience. And oh boy they did a hell of a job! Despite the fact that the band doesn’t have any really complex songs, they did manage to hold my attention and keep things interesting. Simply by being minimalistic. Apart from a few lightning effects, they don’t need many things to distract the audience. They are just good at what they do. This is mostly due to the strong and clear vocals by singer Anna Murphy. From the first moment she gets on stage it is clear that she can front the band. From little quiet songs to heavy melodic guitar songs, this band has it all. There are even some folk influences thanks to the addition of the hurdy-gurdy. This means that there is a lot of variation in the songs. But what I remember the most about seeing this band play on stage, is the incredible stage presence of this young lady. Without being too much in the picture she knows exactly what to do. And that’s a great accomplishment for an opening act.

Especially if you know that after that symphonic power metallers Serenity come on stage. This band stands in great contrast with its predecessor. Where Cellar Darling most of time is very modest and straightforward, Serenity is everything but that. This enthusiastic band does have very fanatical and loyal fans. You could also hear that in the audience this night. That these people didn’t come all the way for Delain only, became clear very fast. From the first moment Serenity got on stage the fans were ecstatic! This of course, had everything to do with singer Georg Neuhauser. His endless energy and enthusiastic performance often seem a little slik. It is all very well thought off and it seems that from the beginning you are watching some kind of Shakespearean play. That doesn’t mean that this is a bad thing however, it simply fits well with this kind of music. The band plays extremely well, especially the guitarists who enjoy enough freedom on stage to do their thing. After three songs singer Natascha Koch enters the stage. Directly visible is the fact that these two vocalists work exceptionally well together. They complement each other and turn Serenity into a well-oiled machine. The audience got what they came for. The fact that Serenity isn’t really my kind of music doesn’t degrade the quality of this good show.

Then it is finally time for Delain. The set list immediately starts great with the now standardized intro The Monarch followed by the first song Hands Of Gold. This is a great starter because for the grunts in this song George Oosthoek was called on stage. His incredible grunts give this song what it deserves. We Are The Others is next. With this song I always feel a lot of familiarity. Not to tell you any details, but I also know what it’s like to be treated differently. Like many other people in this world. This song is about that and speaks to all these people, it’s okay to be different.

The Glory And The Scum, Get The Devil Out Of Me, Sucker Punch and Danse Macabre form a heavier section of this set list. Scarlet is the next song. I haven’t really spoken about Charlotte’s vocals yet. I think this mostly has to do with the fact that I’ve been to so many Delain shows, that it is normal for me to hear her sing exceptionally well. But during the song Scarlet you can really hear how great she is. Scarlet had Elianne Anemaat on cello. Of course, in the heavier songs you can also hear that Charlotte can sing, but with a beautiful quiet ballad it is a little easier. It was also a perfect time for me to determine how versatile Charlotte really is. She has grown a lot over the years as a performer. Her interaction with the audience is sincere and very spontaneous. This is also the case for the other band members. If we for example pick Merel Bechtold, this woman has been a great addition to the band for some time now and her interaction with front–woman Charlotte is a sight for sore eyes! The only thing that bothers me a bit is that Merel never plays any guitar solos. I don’t know if this is by choice, I mean I can’t imagine she can’t play a complex solo. However, Merel doesn’t look like she is unhappy in the band at all! And speaking of the guitar solos of Timo, of course they are phenomenal. In this genre of metal not many classic guitar solos are played, so I always like it when I hear a great solo.

Here Come The Vultures and Fire With Fire are performed very powerful by Charlotte and the band. After that it is time for Marco Hietala to steal the show. He is doing this a little half-baked. He starts off amazing in Your Body Is A Battleground. In this first duet with Charlotte, Marco shows what he came for. I directly noticed that Marco has a very free role tonight as opposed to being in Nightwish. Nightwish shows are being directed very tight and everybody got their own roles but when you are acting as a guest singer in a Delain show then you can do whatever you want, and that is precisely what Marco does. He is all over the place and makes contact with members of Delain, however, this is not always good for his singing voice because where he is singing well enough in the first song I mentioned, the same cannot be said for the next two songs Nothing Left and Control The Storm. In the song after that, Sing To Me, he recovers a bit. What follows are some heavy Delain songs without Marco Hietala where the band shows how much they have grown as a band. Delain has become a well-oiled machine on stage. When it was time for Scandal, the cover of rock legends Queen, Marco Hietala returned to the stage. At first, I was afraid that he would screw up this difficult song based on his performance of the last few songs. However, I couldn’t be more wrong, Marco hits every note and the band produces a great version of this wonderful song! Charlotte’s vocals are absolutely phenomenal and this is not for the first time.

Then there is only one song left that needs to be played with Marco Hietala. At The Gathering everybody jumps up and down and a confetti cannon goes off. Having Marco for this song is great, but choosing The Gathering as a closing song couldn’t have been better! It was a fantastic show that, if you ask me, could have easily been just as good without Marco Hietala. Delain is capable of much more than that. But the fact that Marco was there satisfied a lot of fans and made the evening even more special than it already was!

It was a night to remember! Thank you Delain!

Photo by Tim van Velthuysen

Read another DutchMetalManiac live review of Delain here and our review of Delain’s Moonbathers album here. Go here for our interview with Delain’s Martijn Westerholt and here for the one with Charlotte Wessels in which we spoke with her about Phantasma.

Delain Official Website
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Serenity Official Website
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Cellar Darling Official Website
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