Delain + Serenity + Cellar Darling
@ Koko, London
November 1, 2017
Review by Torbjørn ‘Toby’ Jørstad
Photography by Graham Hilling
Rarely have I seen the queue outside the Koko stretch as far as it did that Wednesday night. With literally several hundred people lined up down Camden High St., it was evident that the interesting combination the Danse Macabre bill had to offer, courtesy of DELAIN, SERENITY and CELLAR DARLING, was appealing to many.
Metal-Rules also interviewed Georg Neuhauser of Serenity, Martijn Westerholt of Delain and Merlin Sutter of Cellar Darling that evening. All three interviews can be found here:
First up for the night are Swiss alternative folk rock outfit CELLAR DARLING. Emerging after Anna Murphy, Ive Henzo and Merlin Sutter’s departure from Eluveitie last year, the band released their debut album This Is The Sound in June, and Danse Macabre is their first tour together as a band.
Sutter and Henzi take the stage together with their session bassist, tearing into the single “Black Moon”. Vocalist Anna Murphy enters smilingly at last, eager to share their music with the audience. So eager in fact, that she almost bangs her head into her hurdy-gurdy while headbanging.
The sound is good and well balanced, and for once the hurdy-gurdy, an obscure instrument arguably brought to the attention of most metal fans from Murphy’s time in Eluveitie, is clearly defined and audible among the other instruments.
“What a welcome!” Murphy smiles, remarking her “clumsy opening”. The band seem to enjoy themselves on stage – Sutter is as energetic behind the drumkit as before and Murphy walks around genuinely smiling out at the 1.400 strong crowd.
This Is The Sound features a plethora of different sounds and styles, and we are treated to everything from the fast paced “Starcrusher” to the more sinister and dark “Rebels”.
The single “Avalance” is by far the best received song of their set, with its catchy one-word chorus and enticing hurdy-gurdy melodies. The band’s stage show is miniscule, but works well with their modern take on folk rock.
The intimate setting of perhaps London’s most beautiful venue goes extremely well with the band’s heartfelt music, with dimmed, blue stage lights creating an eerie and almost thrilling atmosphere.
“Would you like to hear one more song?” Murphy asks. One cheeky member of the audience shouts “play some Eluveitie!”, but his request goes unnoticed and the band ends their set with the single “Challenge”.
If one is to go by Cellar Darling’s live debut on UK soil, good things are to come from this band in the future, both in studio and on the stage.
1. Black Moon
3. The Hermit
The stage is decorated with banners and flags as the time is nigh for the night’s second support band, Austrian SERENITY. The melodic four-piece just released their sixth studio album Lionheart the week before, and it is a band shining with energy and enthusiasm meeting the crowd gathered at Koko.
The sound of massive bass drums engulfs the venue as intro track “Deus le Volt” sounds over the PA, before the band takes the stage and kicks off the new single “United”.
Vocalist Georg Neuhauser enters last, with a most enjoyable theatrical stage presence lasting throughout the entirety of their set.
Their new album Lionheart, taking on the tale of King Richard I of England, hits right home for the UK audience. “Are there any English people out here tonight?” Neuhauser leadingly asks.
A Scot in the crowd shouts out, prompting Neuhauser to promise the next album to be about Scottish national hero William Wallace.
Natascha Koch [Tasha], who provided female guest vocals on Codex Atlanticus, joins the band for a few songs, and brings yet another level of eye-grabbing theatrical shenanigans on stage.
Bassist Fabio D’Amore handles his additional vocal duties well, while guitarist Christian Hermsdörfer flawlessly shreds his way through their set with ease.
“Rust of Coming Ages” speeds everything up, and the fresh title track “Lionheart” turns the audience into one giant, hymn-chanting gathering.
The band’s seemingly symbiotic connection with the people in the audience is remarkable, prompting both sing-alongs, jump-alongs and more.
“You are fucking fantastic, London!” Neuhauser exclaims, urging fans to come see them in the merch stand after the show. “Follow Me” from last years Codex Atlanticus becomes the band’s final song for the night, and the now packed Koko is boiling over of excitement for the night’s headliner.
Deus lo Vult (tape)
2. Spirit in the Flesh
4. Rust of Coming Ages
5. Serenade of Flames
7. Follow Me
Dutch symphonic metal act DELAIN last visited the Koko right around the same time last year, then being only about 20 tickets from selling out the venue. This time around they managed to do just that, and it is undeniable that the band’s collaboration with Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala on this tour is an attractive bonus for many.
The Danse Macabre tour (named after the song on Moonbathers), celebrates Delain’s ten years in existence. The last few years have been particularly successful for the Dutch, with the EP Lunar Prelude and the full length Moonbathers making 2016 a success story hard to top.
However, this is exactly what they attempt. The band takes the stage and from the very start delivers back-to-back some of their now most well-known songs, with “Hands of Gold” off the latest album leading into the anthem “We Are The Others”.
“Get The Devil Out of Me” and “Suckerpunch” are not surprisingly well-received by the eager audience. The sound is well-balanced and polished, and the energetic performance given by all members are a pleasure to behold.
Guitarists Merel Bechtold and Timo Somers move from one side of the stage to the other, and frontwoman Charlotte Wessels does nothing but smile in between delivering soothing vocals.
The melancholic ballad “Scarlet” sees a sensual and emotional Wessels beautifully delivering a pleasant change of pace, before “Here Come the Vultures” and “Fire with Fire” ultimately speed things up again.
Hietala finally joins the band for “Your Body is a Battleground”, much to the joy of the crowd. It is no doubt that the additional vocal harmonies provided by Hietala is a strong addition in a live setting, and this is evident especially during “Control the Storm”.
The experienced Nightwish-member effortlessly charms an audience already wanting more as he leaves the stage after “Sing to Me”.
The band’s drummer Ruben Israël played his last show with the band that night, as he is pursuing further studies. The shy man behind the drum kit receives a hero’s salute as the whole venue starts chanting his name.
After a short interlude, with the crowd chanting for the inevitable encores, the band returns. The fan favorite “Don’t Let Go” sounds as good as ever, and Hietala is called upon to join the band for a cover of Queen’s “Scandal”.
Bubbles engulfs the venue, as “The Gathering” off their debut album fittingly ends a glorious evening celebrating a decade of Delain – with unanimous hopes of lots more to come.
The Monarch (tape)
1. Hands of Gold
2. We Are the Others
3. The Glory and the Scum
4. Get the Devil Out of Me
6. Danse Macabre
8. Here Come the Vultures
9. Fire with Fire
10. Your Body is a Battleground (feat. Marco Hietala)
11. Nothing Left (feat. Marco Hietala)
12. Control the Storm (feat. Marco Hietala)
13. Sing to Me (feat. Marco Hietala)
14. The Hurricane
15. Not Enough
16. Mother Machine
17. Don’t Let Go
18. Scandal (Queen Cover) (feat. Marco Hietala)
19. The Gathering (feat. Marco Hietala)