Paradise Lost needs very little introduction. They’re a band that has been on the scene long enough to release 14 albums and a near countless amount of EPs, singles and compilations, yet their line-up (outside of drumming activities) has remained constant since their formation in 1988. That’s something that deserves an amount of respect right off the bat.
From their doom/death beginnings into the more polished period of Draconian Times, One Second and Host , and now into 2015’s full return to an even more deadly form, the band’s influence has been huge, so it’s of little surprise that the name Paradise Lost has essentially become a household name for so many metal enthusiasts.
The tricky part with regard to bands with such lengthy and diverse careers is that their fans and followers end up spanning such disparate generations. Each new crew of young metalheads gets to re-discover the band’s highs and lows, and they get the privilege of deciding which albums to skip and which ones to obsess over and love. Us older dudes and dudettes (i.e. people in their prime who should always be sought out for consultation on which albums to worship and then blindly obeyed) get to grow alongside the band over the many years: we fall in love with their music, we curse incessantly and occassionally give up on them when they release a “what-the-fuck-just-happened” album, and then we rejoice with the heavens when they release a come-back worthy of an Album of the Year contender. Case in point: The Plague Within.
Last week, all the various generations of Paradise Lost fans gathered in one place to see them play during one leg of their “The Plague Within Europe 2015” tour, and I just so happened to be part of that crowd.
The concert was one of the most talked about events of the year, outside of the Sanctuary/Overkill show that happened in Spring, and it was being held at a club that promised to have a more intimate feel, so expectations were very high. People were buzzing about the quality of the new album and were clearly excited to hear which songs were to be performed. The place was so packed, my trusty camera and I had a really hard time finding a choice spot with a good enough view of the band to take some quality photos – something that certainly wasn’t helped by the fact that there was no photo pit for bespectacled journalists such as myself. I’m old, I know.
Paradise Lost started their set right on time; there was no grand entrance, no big visual or fancy effects – just five dudes there to play a show. As expected, they opened with “No Hope in Sight”, much to the delight of all people screaming their heads off.
After the first number, Mr. Holmes (elementary, my dear metalhead) introduced the band: “Hi. We’re a heavy metal band from Sweden. Thanks for recognizing our first song for tonight.” Naturally, this totally disarmed the fans and everyone became giggly as schoolgirls.
“Widow”, from their most praised album to date, Icon, followed. Next came songs from Gothic, Symbol of Life (odd choice) and In Requiem, after which “Victim of the Past” logically ensued, and then “Flesh from Bone” from The Plague Within. The band then returned to the superb Shades of God with a solid rendition of “As I Die”, and that was essentially it. We all shouted and waited for the encore, which came in the shape of four more songs that ended with the classic “Say Just Words to Me” to bring the evening to a close.
Now, what to say about the gig after its oh-so-short one hour and 10-ish minutes? Well, they covered much of their discography and executed all the numbers okay. Were they radiating outstanding energy from the stage and out into the crowd? Nope. Did they play most of the songs fans wanted to hear? Nope. Could the concert have lasted longer for the not-at-all cheap admission price? Absolutely. Could they have conversed with the fans more? Yep. The “just five dudes” who came onto the stage with no introductions or fancy effects remained “just five dudes” who did nothing truly spectacular that night, which was in stark opposition to the built-up expectations and atmosphere the fans created prior to the show’s start. I did a short vox populi once the band cleared out to see the mindset of some of the other attendees and one funny comment really stuck with me: “No wonder they have an album called One Second. This was just too short.”
To conclude: it was a solid show, but nothing compared to what was expected. I guess it just goes to show that even bands of high caliber and impressive longevity have their bad days. There’s certainly still hope in sight for the giant that is Paradise Lost and better live shows ahead.