A politely celebratory in tone acoustic trip through the Dutch band’s catalogue.
Alistair Lawrence 2009
For all their successes, Within Temptation remain one of those bands whose sound seems a bit ‘too European’ to make inroads into this country’s rock community, which typically prefers its stars to be home-grown or imported from America. The Dutch sextet could be forgiven for looking on confused as the as-good-as defunct Evanescence proceeded to blow up and then implode or, equally, not giving it a second thought and carrying on regardless.
An Acoustic Night at the Theatre suggests the latter, as it’s politely celebratory in its tone. By opting for an unplugged set the band have avoided trotting out the kind of greatest hits collection that are perhaps redundant in the download age and best saved until after a band has broken up, anyway. It also allows them some scope to make flesh some collaborations and rework material established with their devoted audience by doing more than just pulling the metaphorical plug on it. Which is just as well, because it’s not until former Life of Agony frontman Keith Caputo drops by to reprise his role on What Have You Done that this starts to feel like a truly live performance. Before that, The Gathering’s Anneke van Giersbergen’s turn on Somewhere is greeted with polite deference, without it being as interesting as her previous collaboration with seminal Birmingham grindcore kings Napalm Death.
The rest isn’t bad, but does fall victim to a set-up that can rob songs of their vitality. In the case of Within Temptation, it’s that the pop-operatic style of frontwoman Sharon den Adel usually comes packaged with a score that swoops and soars. The acoustic versions are just as meticulously constructed, but ultimately sound too similar for anyone who’s doing anything but listening for the changes, for the most part.
They sign off with new track Utopia – featuring another guest vocalist, Brit Chris Jones – which isn’t really anything more than a custom-built acoustic ballad, but ensures their fans go home having heard something new. Like the bulk of this, it’s thoughtful but not thrilling.