Smash into Pieces exploded onto the stage with a digital screen and the electrical-faced Apocalypse DJ. These were guys looking to have a good time and coaxing the audience to join. Of course, we accepted the invitation. The artists’ grinning antics blasted against our own demeanor and had us responding in kind. We rocked, we played; they jammed and slammed. These openers were a stage commanding riot. Lead vocalist Chris Adam Hedman Sörbye owned the stage with his raspy rock voice and metaphorically dropped the mic, but never the bottle of liquor clenched in his hand. They inserted merch-booth humor and crowd pumping dialogue that made the musical performance an infusion of comedy. Closing out the fun, the Apocalypse DJ hoisted an American Flag above his bowing band-mates in an ode to this North American tour.
I hated to see the set end, but loved the attitude they left with the crowd.
The stage was a color vibrating mixture that led to the second band, Cypher 16. Their up-tempo, hair-whipping, energy brought individuality in an already diverse lineup. Cypher 16 has a talent for rapid-beat lyrics in a melodic, mid-octave, tone. From the momentary string-plucked pauses to the spinning guitar-work, this collection of artists kept us sweating from our dance-style moshing.
I’ll take more of that Cypher 16, just keep bringing it.
This is a tour that showcases rock in its many different styles. Each band had a brand all their own and performed as headliners, especially in the case of Citizen Zero. Third up to bat, Citizen Zero hit it out of the park with insanely complex guitar riffs and elongated vocals. All of which were done with the laid back attitude of experience. Lead guitarist Sammy Boller’s hands were a masterful journey into the world of strings, while his nodding head and smiling face exuded serenity. Maybe, just maybe, I had a tear in my eye with the musical mastery of these organic musicians. The dance between the lyrics and drummer John Dudley’s symbol tapping style made for a melody separate from the rest of the performance. Citizen zero’s performance is best described as: beautiful.
There we were, the crowd and I, waiting, yet already fulfilled by the lineup. In hindsight, I see know the correlation between the different styled bands and Amaranthe. This was a tour of diversity, just as Amaranthe is a mixture of genres. This diverse collection of opener’s foreshadowed the very essence of Amaranthe. This headliner is diversity; it’s the combination of metal, pop, and alternative, with an ode to the in-between genres.
Individuality shining within a tight group dynamic is what Amaranthe does best. It was an explosion of personalities and vibrant lights. Each member had a job, but supported each other in friendship and music. Throughout the set you could see them whisper to one another and chuckle at some inside joke. The rapport between them made for a surprisingly organic show, and that is not what I would have expected from a hybrid band. The way they traversed around the stage and interacted, resulted in a high production jam-session, thus creating an intimacy with the fans. Every member of Amaranthe took a moment to connect directly to a fan, which heightened the experience for the rest of us as well. One of those moments led to the prettiest little girl I’ve ever seen being hoisted onto the stage. She stood shyly in the center of the band with her sweet smile, while they all took turns serenading her. She had one proud papa and many more cheering fans.
All three vocalists had lighting to extenuate their genre. Whenever heavy metal vocalist Henrik Englund Wilhemsson let out his growling screams, the venue turned red and bathed over his dark silhouette. Yet, with those angry sounds, he never felt aggressive. His vibe was supreme rocker, but personable as well and was the quickest of the artists to smile. He’s the rocker you want to be, and want as your best friend. Henrik’s hardened lights perfectly contrasted to the softened glow cast during Elize Ryd‘s soaring falsettos. Don’t be fooled by her pop influence, this girl can rock. She whipped her long dark hair right along with Henrik’s. Guitarist Olof Mörck and Bassist Johan Andreassen were having a blast. When they weren’t nudging each other playfully, they traded places and made sure every corner of the venue witnessed their joyous talents. They laughed together and rocked out as only true buddies can.
I was told during my interview with Olof in October, an Amaranthe show has a comedy skit. I was not disappointed as Johan delivered a stand-up set prior to the multi-song encore to haze the crowd. I’d say this gave us a chance to rest from our metal-dancing antics, but we never were able to catch our breath as Johan caused uproar of laughter with every retort at an over-enthusiastic heckler. To put it simply, he shut down him down with good nature and witty banter.
This wasn’t just any concert, this was a collection of artists showing their styles and having a great time doing it. This was a well thought out production that hit with ease of raw talent. This lineup, this tour, is the perfect kind to bring a plus one along. I can assure you, they will leave with a moment they’ll never forget.
You better call that crush you’ve been thinking about, here’s your chance to take them somewhere memorable.