Riverside is out in force tonight on this cold November evening, the wind howling and the quayside wet, but the spirits undamped as I see nothing but a sea of smiling faces heading for the venue door. As with the case of most metallic subgenres, there is no clear set of rules about how a band must ‘conform’ within the musical quarry. Lacuna Coil, formed in 1994 under the name ‘Sleep of Right’, combine symbolic lyrics, orchestral harmony and crushing death metal with both a male and female vocalist. Andrea Ferro (who, you wouldn’t guess it looking at him, is now 43) originally started singing as a way to avoid skating. When he realised there were more women and less injuries involved in forming a band then continuing to perform Ollies and half pipes, he did just that.
Tonight’s support comes from Genus Ordins Dei, fellow countrymen of their Italian headliners, and all extremely academic musicians who are in the process of promoting their next album ‘Great Olden Dynasty’. If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also got Forever Still, a band who you’d be forgiven for thinking were a young Lacuna Coil in the making, Maja Shining cutting a striking resemblance of a young Ms Scabbi. This information, however, puts them at a disadvantage – and I’d be remiss if I didn’t encourage you to download the track ‘The Last Day’ (free from their website) on the basis of their energetic performance of the song here tonight. Support slots on these kinds of tours can be tough, you don’t get much time to sell your music or your ideals, but both bands did a great job tonight and it’s obvious Lacuna Coil are eager to champion not just their own new music but the potential of other acts out there as well.
Christina Scabbi cuts a fine figure as she surveys tonight’s energetic crowd in Newcastle. The Italian beauty is stunning, not just aesthetically, but vocally as well – I first heard her rapturous voice in 2002 on the album ‘Comalies’ – no doubt the first introduction for many Lacuna Coil fans to the group at the height of their so-called ‘heyday’. When ‘Heaven’s A Lie’ starts up there is an uproar from the crowd, and rightly so, it’s the equivalent of Lacuna Coil’s ‘pop classic’ (even if that phrase does it a disservice) and transports me back to being 17 all over again. Proving, however, that they’ve not just been touring since on nostalgia, their 2012 album ‘Dark Adrenaline’ climbed to No 15 on the Billboard 200 and only earlier this year the band won an International Award from the German Metal Hammer Magazine, solidifying both their influence and relevance.
Diego Cavallotti does a fine job on guitar, his first couple of months with the band amounting to an endless stream of live dates and album promotion, an album which was delayed due to the departure of two founding members and a longstanding guitarist, all within the past 18 months.
When the band perform songs such as ‘The House of Shame’ or my personal favourite ‘You Love Me Cause I Hate You’ you can really get a sense that good music was worth waiting for. Shortly before the encore there’s even a reminder of one of their best known covers, as Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’ gets an airing. In this, they’ve made the song their own, you’d be forgiven if most of tonight’s younger audience thought Lacuna Coil wrote it themselves, so easily does it fit into the wider set. That said, it’s unfortunate that their Madonna cover ‘Live to Tell’ (a song I’d even go so far as to say is Madonna’s best work) is not performed, as the studio version of said track is, for me, outstanding.
As the house lights come up and the sublimation fades it takes me a minute to compose myself. I’ve seen an impassioned performance, from three great bands and for a low price in a great venue. Maybe I’ll be upset at having to walk uphill in the Northern wind and emerging rain to catch my bus, but if anyone asks, I just won’t mention that part.
Photographer – Adam Kennedy
Although my musical tastes are considerably heavier than most, I have an appreciation for everyone, from Elton John to Megadeth. When I'm not reading through my old Kerrang Magazines and playing the latest Municipal Waste cassettes, I'll attempt to give you my perspective on the music to impact Newcastle and the North East. I hope you enjoy my opinions, but even if you don't, I'd still encourage you to read them!