Lacuna Coil - LIVE: ULU, London 2011

Darkness Rising Tour
November 22
Capacity 800

After garnering a reputation for playing little but material from their latest, questionably received albums on their more recent tours, Lacuna Coil turned heads with their '10 UK tour. Claiming beforehand to be introducing much more pre-Comalies material over the course of the tour, the band didn't disappoint, alternating between a variety of old classics between shows and creating a definite stir ahead of an evening with Lacuna Coil special at London's Borderline venue. Combined with their regular set the day before at the London Garage, the band put on two incredibly special performances that not only reflected the band's entire career and revived old standards, but proved that the band's new material was worth a second glance. It was very difficult for any fans – old or new – to question that Lacuna Coil were truly on form during this particular series of shows.

The band's '11 tour didn't quite have the same buzz around it. However, perhaps this wasn't the right tour to promote old material – this was after all more a reminder to UK fans that the band have a new album forthcoming in the shape of Dark Adrenaline, an album whose songs would be previewed across the tour. Unfortunately this did mean that the set for the tour would be predictable and very static – aside from Karmacode rarity Without Fear, most of the set would consist of predictable staples from the last three albums, combined with two new songs Kill The Light and heavily promoted first single Trip The Darkness. With no changes in songs between shows, it did seem like a comedown from '10's more exciting tour, but the reasons were certainly understandable.

Besides, that was the least of Lacuna Coil's problems tonight in London. After having to scale down to the Garage and Borderline in '10, the band returned to much larger venues – this time in the shape of the ULU. That's good for ticket sales, but the ULU isn't really one of the best venues in London. Aside from having very little character as a venue (it is, after all, a university union hall rather than a purpose built music club), the venue has a well-earned reputation for poor quality sound. That was proven tonight, with a muggy sound that put a general dampener on an otherwise typically sturdy performance, with the stage itself poorly lit due to the large amounts of smoke being emitted from the stage (possibly more the band's fault than anything else). Perhaps the biggest issue sound wise though was the mix for the singers – whilst Cristina was clear but a little too loud in the mix, her partner in crime Andrea could barely be heard. There are many who might say that is a good thing – but some people's opinions aside, Andrea is a vital part of Lacuna Coil's music and identity, and when you can't hear him properly deliver the chorus of recent hit I Won't Tell You, it is incredibly jarring, disappointing and very noticeable.

Putting these complaints to one side, however, it has to be stated that Lacuna Coil still prove to be a consistent and reliable live entity. Older fans might argue that the lack of material prior to Comalies makes for a worse set, but the response the band got from the crowd despite the poor sound would strongly suggest otherwise. Like it or not, Lacuna Coil have become the producers of terrific modern rock hits, and throughout the evening the band delivered them in spades. The majority of these came from the last two albums (Karmacode and Shallow Life), but naturally there was a good response to favourites from Comalies such as Heaven's A Lie, Daylight Dancer and naturally Swamped. There's really no faulting the band's strong melodic hooks in songs such as opener Our Truth or I'm Not Afraid – songs that seep into the listener's head and become very easy to sing along to, perfect songs for the live environment.

After finishing the main set with their popular cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, the band returned to the stage amidst search lights for recent single Survive. There was a degree of excitement as the band introduced Trip The Darkness, at which point it really became evident that this was what the band were most excited about. Admittedly it might not be one of the band's best songs, but does hold some promise for a darker and more sinister album next year. Finishing off with Spellbound, yet another single from Shallow Life (how many singles did that album have anyhow?), the band managed to make the most out of a patchy sound and easily won over the audience regardless.

Overall the show was arguably not their best – in part because of sound and venue choice, as well as perhaps a predictable set of songs. They still managed to prove their worth, and given that the band will no doubt be back in the country again once the album has come out, it won't be long before we see Lacuna Coil giving a much more meaty and interesting performance under much better circumstances.

“ a consistent and reliable live entity ”

Setlist: Our Truth / To The Edge / I Won't Tell You / I'm Not Afraid / Kill the Light / Fragments of Faith / Heaven's a Lie / Daylight Dancer / Wide Awake / Without Fear / Swamped / Fragile / Enjoy the Silence // Survive / Trip the Darkness / Spellbound

Written by James Donovan
More: 2011, Alternative, Female-fronted, Gigs,

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