Symphony X, Epica and more at The Pearl Room (2008)

The Pearl Room (Mokena, IL, USA)

Symphony X, Epica, Into Eternity
SYMPHONY X was another band featured in my personal want-to-watch-live list especially after the excellent […]
By Dimitris Kontogeorgakos
April 13, 2008

SYMPHONY X was another band featured in my personal want-to-watch-live list especially after the excellent album Paradise Lost. In this album the band decided to lean more on the Heavy side and take a safer distance from the too complicated patterns of Progressive Metal. So, in the 13th of April with the good weather on my side (after many weeks) I drove my way to The Pearl Room to watch SYMPHONY X on stage.

I had already planned an interview with Mike Romeo and hence I lost the first band that I never learned its moniker, so you have to excuse me on that. In my surprise I found in the venue almost 1000 metalheads that were more than anxious to have SYMPHONY X on-stage.

The first on-stage treat (at least for me) was INTO ETERNITY hailing for Canada. Apparently, due to some technical problems with the main microphone their appearance was delayed for more than 20 minutes that is too much for the USA standards. After that period of time the five piece band started playing some music but not for more than a song since the singer's microphone died. INTO THE ETERNITY use grunting and clean vocals and that means two microphones are essential. The problem seemed without a solution and since they were running already late Stu Block (the main singer) decided to take all the vocal duties. Despite all this fuss the audience turned to be in a really high mood supporting the band and making fun of the sound technicians that were trying to solve the microphone mystery. Musically, INTO ETERNITY mix Death and Progressive Metal in a successive way that apparently had some die-hard fans that night who were also familiar to the lyrics. Stu apart from a very a good singer is also a relentless frontman who helped the rest of the band maintain the same mood despite their technical problems. The band informed us that SYMPHONY X decided to shortened their setlist and give INTO ETERNITY the opportunity to make up for the lost time. Eventually the band performed with two microphones for three (I think so) songs satisfying all their fans while giving me the opportunity to get the whole picture and think that this is a very good band with high skilled musicians that do a hell of a job on stage.

The next and the last supporting band on the billing was EPICA. I had the chance to watch them in the latest Greek show with Simone Simons on the vocals. As you probably know, Simone is still recovering from her latest health problems that have given here some very rough times for more than a year. For this reason, the band had to do the North American tour with Amanda Somerville on the vocals.

The stage was quickly prepare and so after 20 minutes the lights went out and after the intro Indigo the band enter the stage with The Obsessive Devotion. Amanda came right on time to start singing and immediately all eyes (male and female) focused on her. From the first look I can comment that she is very beautiful (ok she has some additional pounds) and has a better on-stage presence than Simone. Of course, we have to cut Simone some slack due to her short time experience compared to Amanda who has a band of her own. Vocally she did a hell of a job although she doesn't have the same warmth in her voice like Simone. Mark Jansen did his part of the grind vocals in a high mood, Coen Janssen almost snapped his neck while headbanging and Arien van Weesenbeek sweat his ass off behind the drum kit. The other two band members seemed that they did not share the same spirit and gave an almost cold professional performance.

Their setlist was:

01. Indigo
02. The Obsessive Devotion
03. Sensorium
04. Quietus
05. Cry For The Moon
06. Fools of Damnation
07. Sancta Terra
08. Consign to Oblivion

The time had come for me to see SYMPHONY X live for the first and I think that The Pearl Room was the best place to do it. The intro Oculus ex Inferni spread waves of enthusiasm in the audience and opened for Set The World Of Fire. I have to say that besides from a charismatic singer Russell Allen is a very good frontman. After the very first notes he established an honest connection to the fans (especially with those in the front rows) having a constant smile on his face. The Serpent's Kiss was next and things got way more sweaty on and off stage. Mike Romeo was a beast behind his custom made six string while Russell was running up and down the stage making jokes with the road crew and the fans. The fans got really crazy during Masquerade from the band's debut, enjoyed the excellent vocals in Paradise Lost and got lost during the Epic 15 minutes of Through The Looking Glass. From my side I can say that SYMPHONY X is the best Progressive Metal band on stage; ok I have watched DREAM THEATRE a couple of times and apart from the high musicianship I received nothing more from them. From my point of view in a Metal concert you want to see a band sweating and communicating with the fans and not just some excellently and difficult to perform scales and tempo changes.

Smoke And Mirrors was the second treat from the Twilight In Olympus where Mike Romeo served some fast guitar shreds with the support of Michael Pinnella in the keyboards and the solid rhythm of Jason Rullo and Mike LePond in the drums and the bass guitar, respectively.

After The Walls of Babylon the band left the stage and returned for an encore with Revelation and The Divine Wings Of Tragedy that blew our heads off. SYMPHONY X did one more song from their latest album and personal favorite Eve of Seduction before stepping off the stage for the last time leaving everybody satisfied and sweaty. I hope that Mike Romeo will prove his promise true and SYMPHONY X will come to Greece and give an ever better (if it is possible) performance! Below is their setlist.

01. Oculus ex Inferni
02. Set the World on Fire
03. Domination
04. The Serpent's Kiss
05. Masquerade
06. Paradise Lost
07. Though The Looking Glass
08. Inferno (Unleash The Fire)
09. Smoke And Mirrors
10. The Walls of Babylon
11. Revelation
12. The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
13. Eve of Seduction

(photos by me)




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