Amaranthe - American Beauty Car Show, Haapsalu Episcopal Castle, Haapsalu, Estonia, 19.07.2014
|Event:||American Beauty Car Show 2014|
Amaranthe - American Beauty Car Show, Haapsalu Episcopal Castle, Haapsalu, Estonia, 19.07.2014 by Ivor (70)
Haapsalu is a small and beautiful Estonian resort town by the sea. Each July its quiet is disturbed by an invasion of owners and admirers of the American car industry. Shining cars, roaring engines, burning rubber, cruising, and a drag race on the airfield strip - American Beauty Car Show has got it all. If you're into all that, it's the place to be. Naturally, this also calls for musical entertainment of varied sorts, which somehow managed to grab my attention for the first time with only one name - Amaranthe. Just because I happen to like them.
American Beauty Car Show
I've never really had much interest in ABCS. Not that American cars lack the looks but I was a kid when I last felt like looking at cars at an expo. I'll likely never get one like that anyway for various and irrelevant reasons. As a musical event, though, ABCS really is a mixed fruit bowl. It's had its share of heavier acts (local bands like Herald, Metsatöll, and No-Big-Silence, or foreign acts like Tarja, Lordi, Hanoi Rocks, and The 69 Eyes) but so far none have been worth a small trip to Haapsalu.
This edition also covered a wide musical range from rockabilly and pop to hard rock and metal. While I wouldn't have minded checking out Arch Enemy with Alissa, I wasn't curious enough to go see them on Friday. Especially since I can't really say I liked Arch Enemy before the change. It was just reasonable not to go there for the first night. So, I decided to go down to Haapsalu for the Saturday evening program of three acts: Uriah Heep, Winny Puhh, and Amaranthe.
Uriah Heep have been to Estonia numerous if not countless times. Even at this very same venue, the Haapsalu Episcopal Castle, they've played before. Even I've chanced to see them at least twice, I reckon. To be fair, at the shows I've been, they've been the support act and hence didn't do much for me at the time. Here they started behind schedule like they were the headliners, took the full hour and then some instead of the less-than-an-hour slot I think they were supposed to have. In short, they made most of it.
Uriah Heep did all right. Not great - just all right. I know some die-hard fans are going to take a swing at me but I wasn't swayed much. They are nice to listen for a while as an interlude but an hour long set takes it a bit too far for me. You know how these bands are: some songs are good, others seem to drag on and on. Old men as they are, though, Uriah Heep still have a lot of energy to rock out. They were having fun presenting songs off the new album as well as classics. And when I say classics, you can be sure those included "Lady in Black," "Free 'n Easy" - during which they got about two dozen girls of all ages on stage to rock with them - and "Easy Livin'." Still, this band would only earn a brief stop for me between the stages at a festival. (By the way, it's uncanny how keyboardist Phil Lanzon looks like Doc Brown from Back to the Future.)
Doc Brown anyone? - Phil Lanzon
What came next, is somewhat hard to describe. Winny Puhh have gained a bit of a cult following in recent times, ever since their Eurovision Song Contest preliminary round entry in Estonia in 2013 - an entry that gives most of the people that see it a serious WTF moment. What they do, they do well. However, it's what they do that has always annoyed me. They are a joke - or, rather, a parody and, to some extent, a satirical punk band. But it's done in such an over the top fashion it's looping around to the really bad and disgusting end. I'm sure they'll take that as a compliment.
What do I mean exactly? I've had the unfortunate accident of seeing the Borat movie. If you like it, congratulations, this band is for you. Personally, I find it appalling but that is irrelevant. Winny Puhh are like Borat in this regard. Faces painted silly, ridiculous costumes and body painting, weird instruments, two BMWs on stage to be smashed, and songs from punk to heavy and trance (or whatever it was). They know their way around their instruments, I'll always grant that to them, and credit for having two drummers on stage. But as something I'd like to watch and listen to, they pretty much are filed as "avoid."
The last to enter the stage were Amaranthe. The band I was after. Most of you won't think this to be much of a reason to go to a show. Agreeably, and I pretty much said so in the review of the last album, the band is the epitome of pop music in metal. The easygoing nature of the music and lyrical content do well to bring forth that impression. However, everybody needs something light and charging in their music library. For me, among others, it's Amaranthe. I'm a sucker for female vocals. More than that, I like to have multiple voices singing. The more varied, the better. Having three vocalists is where Amaranthe appeals to me.
When you listen to an Amaranthe album, you hear a pretty highly polished product. As a live band, Amaranthe are also a polished entity. I noticed in one review that said the very show in Haapsalu was professional and boring, and too anonymous. I don't pay attention to these things much but in this particular case the age difference with that particular reviewer is a tell. Amaranthe undoubtedly appeals to a much younger crowd than Uriah Heep. The audience indeed was considerably younger, or maybe I should put it another way - it was lacking in the more elderly age category, the one where Uriah Heep flourished.
Another curious side effect of attending events with broader appeal is how people behave in the crowd. You can recognise a particular regular metal concert-goer type pretty fast, the one trying to live out the gig. Some of these even started something that I will call a moshpit fetus - sorry I just don't have a better idea what to call a 5-7 people moshpit and a 5-piece crowdsurfing attempt. Credit where credit is due of course, for the attempt at least. And it never reduces the fun factor, except for those in the vicinity and unfamiliar with the behaviour. And there seemed quite a bit of those around with annoyed faces and very pointedly aligned elbows. Given the music that Amaranthe plays, I'm rather surprised so few went along with the oblivious jumping around.
Amaranthe delivered on what I came for: a careless and light listening experience. Naturally, it can always be better. I think I found a bit a of a bass hot spot somewhere in the centre and it was drowning out some of the vocals. I also found it ridiculous how much dry ice smoke was used on stage - most of the time the drummer was somewhere in the thick of fog. But I finally got the answer to the question that's been with me ever since I listened to their début. Due to the album production you can't really tell if the vocalists can hold their ground on stage. And while you can obviously tell a live performance from the studio (and I know Henrik hasn't been on the album yet), those three together are a pretty able unit, although I'd like to confirm this impression in another setting some other time.
1. Future On Hold (The Nexus)
2. 1.000.000 Lightyears (Amaranthe)
3. Serendipity (Amaranthe)
4. Leave Everything Behind (Amaranthe)
5. Infinity (The Nexus)
6. Automatic (Amaranthe)
7. Razorblade (The Nexus)
8. Drum Solo
9. Burn With Me (The Nexus)
10. Afterlife (The Nexus)
11. Mechanical Illusion (The Nexus)
12. Hunger (Amaranthe)
13. Electroheart (The Nexus)
14. Amaranthine (Amaranthe)
15. Call Out My Name (Amaranthe)
16. Invincible (The Nexus)
17. The Nexus (The Nexus)
All in all it was a pretty good evening. I got the show I wanted and would enjoy seeing Amaranthe again. It also showed that regardless of the fact that ABCS is primarily a car enthusiasts gathering, it might turn out to be a decent music festival, although in my case it'll probably be more an exception than a rule. It definitely reminded me of what I'm missing. I think I ought to find a festival I'd like to go to, not just single shows. It really has been a while.
More photos in the gallery linked above.
Written on 28.07.2014 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
And one day I'm going to start a band. We're going to be playing pun-rock.
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