The Hottest Chicks In Metal Tour – Live In Vancouver: May 28, 2007

Spread the metal:

The Hottest Chicks In Metal Tour
feat. Lacuna Coil and The Gathering
May 28, 2007
The Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, BC  Canada


***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland

Under the unfortunate banner of “The Hottest Chicks in Metal Tour,” Lacuna Coil hit Vancouver for their first headlining gig and with The Gathering and Stolen Babies in tow (In This Moment had to bow out of all Canadian dates due to problems crossing from the U.S.), the focus was squarely placed on the women fronting these bands.  Besides Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia, none of these women immediately come to mind as being “hot chicks.”  Scabbia is plastered all over every magazine cover and certainly uses her exotic beauty to garner attention for the band.  The Gathering’s Anneke van Giersbergen, on the hand, comes across as more of a folks-y, girl-next-door type who you could hang out with and Stolen Babies’ Dominique Persi, while not unattractive by any means, certainly eschews the traditional sense of beauty by sporting heavy, Goth/theatrical stage makeup.

Two arguments could be made against such a bill: first, the title panders to the knuckle-dragging, “show-us-your-tits” contingent that women have fought long and hard to get past.  On the other hand, a bill like this can be a good thing, in that, a sense of “heavy metal girl power” can be inspirational to the younger set looking for positive female role models in music.  Neither point seemed to affect the crowd, though, as an eclectic mix of young, old, metal, rock, Goth and everything in between descended upon the ventilation-challenged Croatian Cultural Centre. 

Unfortunately, I missed Stolen Babies’ set and heard from many that the theatrical element of their show was quite interesting.  I arrived just as the band was exiting the stage and there was a noticeable Goth/Dark Wave element there to take in their first visit to Vancouver.  With only a single album—2006’s THERE BE SQUABBLES AHEAD—under their belts, Stolen Babies’ avant-garde/cabaret-themed outfits seemed more in tune with Marilyn Manson than heavy metal, so I wasn’t overly distraught about missing them.

The Gathering also paid their first visit to Vancouver and unbeknownst to everyone at the time, Anneke van Giersbergen would regretfully announce her departure just a week later after a dozen years fronting the group.  The singer sports hypnotic vocals and is quite spellbinding to watch on stage.  She has an amazing set of pipes and in her dressed-down stage attire, resembled your best friend’s cute sister that you had a secret crush on—in other words, very approachable and naturally beautiful, moreso than a “hot chick.”  Van Giersbergen kept the dialogue with the crowd to a minimum and the band earned a surprisingly strong response.  The Gathering is huge in Europe playing festivals, so having the band perform to a few hundred as an opening act was a rare and special treat indeed.  Contrary to The Gathering’s sound and image, guitarist René Ruttan sported a Voivod t-shirt but fans extend from the artsy crowd all the way up to Morbid Angel’s Trey Azagthoth, himself an admitted fan.  The Gathering’s forty-five minute set focused on their last three full-lengths with only one track drawn from 1995’s MANDYLION and nothing at all from its follow-up, NIGHTTIME BIRDS, both considered the band’s true breakthrough releases.  Hans Rutten’s double bass on “Eleanor” hinted at The Gathering’s heavier material early in their career but “Analog Park,” “Even The Spirits Are Afraid” and “Monsters” captured the band in their eclectic, later-period hard rock sound.  “Black Light District” saw Stolen Babies’ Dominique Persi join the band, performing the spoken word parts—and injecting her own shrieks, howls and roars—of Cradle of Filth’s Sarah Jezebel Deva on the studio version.  “Alone,” a track from The Gathering’s latest offering HOME, is a stripped-down, rocking track that is accessible yet with enough of the band’s trippy edge to it.  After their set, van Giersbergen spent some time posing for pictures and signing autographs for fans, who should cherish the moments spent with her as, sadly, this will likely be the last time that opportunity will present itself.  The Gathering is not the most exciting live band I have ever witnessed but there is an inherent charm that keeps the crowd riveted.  Hard to imagine them having 20,000 people enraptured but they did a marvellous job with the 700 or so Vancouver-ites in attendance.

Analog Park
Even The Spirits Are Afraid
Black Light District

In a stunning example of life imitating art, just the day before the show, I saw Bleeding Through’s lovely keyboardist, Marta Peterson, grabbing lunch at a local Home Depot en route to a show just north of us in Whistler.  Peterson and Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia share the cover of the latest issue of REVOLVER Magazine featuring “The Hottest Chicks In Metal.”  Strange coincidence…hmmm?!  This was Lacuna Coil’s first trip back to Vancouver since they were inexplicably opening a bill of Christian nu-metal bands at the same venue three years earlier (read review HERE).  Their choice of lighting left little to work with in a photographic sense, but succeeded in bathing the band members in dark blues and reds to capture their Gothic aesthetic.  Scabbia’s soaring, powerful vocals are just as good live as they are on the studio versions of “Swamped” and “Fragile” and despite her diminutive stature, she is a magnetic personality on stage.  Co-vocalist Andrea Ferro tries his best but as long as Scabbia is singing, all eyes and ears are focused solely on her.  Marco Coti Zelati’s five-string bass and the seven-string guitars of Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi produced a downtuned rumble through the venue’s high ceilings that did little to compliment the band’s sound.  Still, the sixteen-song, 75-minute setlist gave fans a solid rundown of Lacuna Coil’s popular material.  Ten of the thirteen tracks from last year’s KARMACODE were featured and another three from their breakthrough, COMALIES.  The setlist was filled with video channel fodder like “Heaven’s A Lie,” “Swamped,” “Our Truth” and “To The Edge” but for long-time fans, the band trotted out a pair of tracks from their early releases, UNLEASHED MEMORIES and IN A REVERIE: “Senzafine” and a killer version of “My Wings” highlighted by an amazing drum performance from Cristiano Mozzati.  “In Visible Light” generated some really cool ambience as the crowd pulled out their lighters and cellphones, dousing the venue in blue light.  Lacuna Coil’s cover of the Depeche Mode classic “Enjoy The Silence” got a warm response as did the monster breakthrough hit, “Heaven’s A Lie.”  Adding some forgotten gems like “Daylight Dancer” and “To Live Is To Hide” balanced out the KARMACODE-heavy material but “Falling” would have been an excellent addition, as well.  “Our Truth” is possibly the best example of where Lacuna Coil is at these days and the infectious modern metal single resonated throughout the crowd to end the show.   

To The Edge
Fragments of Faith
In Visible Light
To Live Is To Hide
Within Me
Daylight Dancer
My Wings
Enjoy The Silence
~ Encore ~
You Create
What I See
Heaven’s A Lie
Our Truth

Drawing a widespread audience of fifty-plus professionals to fourteen-year old Goth girls—and even a dude sporting a Hitler moustache?!?!—“The Hottest Chicks In Metal Tour” seemed to be a rousing success.  It will be interesting to see where The Gathering go once Anneke van Giersbergen moves on.  She is a staple of that band’s sound and will be sorely missed.  As for Lacuna Coil, the world is their oyster and they are only getting bigger and bigger by the day with this being the first of many headlining tours to come.

***Thanks to Kelli at House of Blues Canada for the press pass.

Lacuna Coil—Official Site
The Gathering—Official Site
Stolen Babies—Official Site