One lesson that can be taken as 2020 draws to a close is that there is impermanence in what we see as normality. To be fair, the impact of the ongoing lockdowns stands as one of the more extreme examples of sudden and drastic change, but life can often be defined by flux as it can by stability. As such, a band such as Evanescence, which had seen such an immediate and meteoric rise to fame in the early years of the new millennium, would function well as a bringer of perspective in these days of uncertainty, as it’s literally in their name. I recall witnessing their ascent into mainstream ubiquity during my closing year at college, as well as the endless debates that followed regarding whether their novel and highly unique sound could be categorized as either rock or metal, and 17 years later it’s a testament to their uniqueness that this question is still up in the air.
But however one chooses to label the many seemingly divergent influences that have been united into a cathartic expression of heavy rock and gothic trappings, the ultimate key to the enigma is found in front woman Amy Lee’s highly distinctive voice and charismatic stage presence. The many lineup changes that have left her as the only original member of the fold have left a minimal impact upon the Evanescence sound, if not allowed it to fully blossom under Lee’s more artsy and nonconformist approach to song creation. One could go so far as to say that she is Evanescence, and despite a heavy amount of involvement by other past and present band members in the songwriting process, that it stands and falls by her involvement. But the presentation that was delivered on December 4th of this year via live stream, consisting of a 30 minute pre-show Q&A and a 40 minute live performance, reveals a band leader that is down to earth, untouched by the ego that can come with stardom, and very much a team player.
Filmed via her own home recording studio space, Amy spearheaded the pre-show Q&A with a series of elucidating responses to various fan questions regarding a variety of topics. The excursion began with a bubbly tone as she announced that the band’s upcoming fifth studio LP “The Bitter Truth” was fully mastered and slated for release on March 26th of next year. The questions that followed covered a variety of topics, often centering on the band’s inner workings and the songwriting process, but also including a fair bit about how the events that have unfolded the past year has affected the band. In spite of the spontaneity of the format, Amy’s responses would prove eloquent, and at times inspirational, causing one to wonder if she’d missed a calling as a motivational speaker. Fans were also treated to a quick demonstration on one of Amy’s keyboards regarding a particular sound heard on “Swimming Home” off the band’s 3rd studio album, which involved moving a keytar aside that some of us might like to see her rock live some day.
The concert itself was presented in a humble fashion, with Amy and two other members of the band broadcasting from the Rock Falcon Studio location, while bassist Tim McCord and guitarist Jen Majura were linked up from California and Germany respectively. Much of the set list was dedicated to newer material in the form of singles from the yet to be released “The Bitter Truth” album, with the inspirational anthem “Use My Voice” stealing the show via a brilliant all around performance and particularly the vocal ones offered up by Lee and Majura. Older material was brought to the fore with a solid rendition of “Sick” that Lee herself noted as being highly appropriate given present world circumstances, as well as a rare revival of a deep track off “The Open Door” album “The Only One”. But the real high point for the thousands of fans blowing up the live chat was the renditions of two classics off the “Fallen” album, with “Bring Me To Life” being liberated from that awkward rapped male vocal slot foisted on the band by their former label Wind Up Records, which accomplished little for the song other than rendering the chorus a crowded mess and tying the Evanescence name to the gimmick-steeped nu-metal sound.
Despite the show being relatively short in length, the sense that an encore of sorts was taking place was noticeable as the rest of the band stepped aside for Amy to perform two final songs with only an acoustic piano accompanying her voice. Even in this more exposed state, her voice could have punched a hole through the studio’s roof with its powerful resonance, as she made her way through a heartfelt performance of “Lost In Paradise” that mirrored her many brilliant live renditions of “My Immortal” in the past, and closed things off on a decidedly impassioned note with a cover of Portishead’s “Glory Box”, giving off the vibe of a lone barroom performer giving a small number of tired patrons a bluesy send off just after the last call. It was a brilliantly intimate note to leave things on that perfectly mirrored the personable atmosphere established prior to the performance and at various points between songs. As Amy gave the audience their send off, the implicit applause from houses and apartments across the world was sure to be deafening, and the desire for a quick passage of time to the next album’s release date is sure to be rivaled by a return to the days of catching such performances in the concert hall rather than the computer screen, God willing.
* If you missed this event, it will still be available for 80 hours, through December 8 at 11:59pm ET.
Wasted on You / The Game is Over (Live debut) / The Only One (First time live since 2011) / Sick / Going Under / Use My Voice (Live debut) / Bring Me to Life / Lost in Paradise / Glory Box (Portishead cover)