Live at The Belasco Theater
Los Angeles, California
February 20th, 2017
Review and Photos by Travis Baumann
Amaranthe have gone through a number of changes recently, both in terms of the direction of their sound, but also in the loss of one of their founding members.
They recently released their fourth album of material, "Maximalism", which sports a lot more Pop musical style than ever before, and with that, the exodus of Jake E. left me a bit skeptical about the future of Amaranthe.
This is my third time seeing the band here in Los Angeles, the first two times being amazing concerts. I certainly don't want to start off the review with a negative, but something was a bit off with this show.
Having it take place in a derelict part of Downtown, in an old theater that is not that often used for Metal shows, and on a Monday night sure did not help the turn-out; they had a sparse crowd. On top of that, the band went on at 9:30 despite having four other bands playing before them so a number of people (myself included) arrived late and missed the first few songs.
I have to say, I don't really care for some of the new material like "Boomerang" which could be an amped up Katie Perry or Rhianna song for all intents and purposes. Thank goodness for Henrik's growls on songs like this.
There was also a LOT of talking. At multiple points Elize sat, literally sat on the edge of the stage, and chatted with the audience. In addition, the bassist came out between the main set and the encore and gave a fifteen minute "sermon of the church of Amaranthe".
He went on about "whether you consider us a Metal band with Pop influences or a Pop band with Metal influences, we don't care as long as you enjoy it". Which is all good I guess, but you would not have heard this even mentioned before the new album and Jake E.'s exit. At least he got a free joint off someone.
The new guy, Chris Sörbye, (who they got to replace Jake E.) actually has an excellent voice and did a flawless job, but there was really none of the old interaction with the three vocalists that they used to have. In fact at more than one point Elize and Henrik were flipping each other off and Elize mentioned she could barely handle touring with him. She back-tracked with a "I'm just kidding, I love Henri". Kind of weird though, as it was actually hard to tell if that was a joke, stage acting, or they really could not stand each other.
Alright, now with all that said, the band sounded great. Elize and Henrik both sounded perfect vocally in their extremely different ways and Olof always shreds on guitars. Johan does a good job on the heavy end with bass guitar, and Morten is awesome on drums, including his lengthy solo.
My favorite song is still "The Nexus" and it was definitely the highlight of the set for me on this night. Some other favorites included "Digital World", "Automatic", and "Dynamite". As far as ballads go, "Amaranthe" is as good as they get, and I also loved the set-closer "Drop Dead Cynical", which had an added bonus of Heidi Shepherd of Butcher Babies fame helping out on the growling.
By getting there late, I missed two more of my favorites; "Invincible" and "1,000,000 Lightyears", which is unfortunate but hopefully those who came early appreciated these songs.
All in all, it was a bit of a tough night for everyone. They kept saying things like "I know marijuana is legal in California but did you have to smoke ALL of it before you came?" and "If it wasn't a Monday night you would all be a lot more drunk than now, but now you can feel the energy without a filter!" trying to get the crowd whipped up but it just wasn't happening. No mosh pit, only some arms in the air. The bar area was empty, I did not see one person buy a drink all night.
I can't help but think that if they had booked a smaller venue like the Whisky, they would have sold out and had a much more dynamic show, but I understand that they want to play bigger venues.
My biggest take-away is that I hope that they correct the rudder and aim back for more turbulent waters musically. I much prefer the heavier, less predictable songs that border into all other kinds of genres.
I like the synthesizers and Industrial dance structures. I like the growled vocals juxtaposed with the clean vocals. What I don't like is the Pop-style vocal hooks and more simplistic messages. The band may continue their current trajectory however, and this would be a huge thing for me, especially if they can't get Jake E. to come back. At least they still do their best material live.
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