Photos by Warren Zanin
The cold, dark night outside the O2 Academy in Islington waits resignedly for an excited energy to accost its consciousness. Fans soon penetrate the evening’s calm with the precise intention of witnessing a great performance by metal masters of doom and gloom, Paradise Lost. And fans are not disappointed. The foreboding tone of the band’s ethos seems to suit London: an austere city that has witnessed centuries of life’s brutality and pain yet surrenders an unparalleled magnificence and wisdom that has come with age and experience. Tonight’s show proves that the twenty-year career of Paradise Lost has honed the band’s talent and creativity into a musical heritage of authority and significance.
Openers, Engel and Katatonia, maintain consistent crowd enthusiasm – the bulk of which is, however, saved for the show’s headliners. Except for the guy who forgets that it takes half an hour to set up and starts bellowing “Pa-ra-dise, Pa-ra-dise” as soon as Katatonia exit the stage. The one-voice chant lasts two minutes and remains dormant until, twenty minutes later, a chorus of voices take Mr Eager’s earlier hint. As the lights finally dim, the medieval graphic from the cover of Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us painting the stage wall seems to come alive as a hauntingly dramatic tune signals the arrival of Paradise Lost. The band breathes an epic presence, which manifests in opening song The Rise of Denial. The audience is treated to a 16-song setlist, spanning seven of the band’s twelve albums: Rise of Denial, Pity the Sadness, Erased, I Remain, As I Die, The Enemy, First Light, Eternal, Enchantment, Frailty, One Second, Forever Failure, Requiem Encore: Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us, As Horizons End, Just Say Words.
Erased excels in its live rendition, as singer Nick Holmes, who has “been sitting here all fucking day – all I did was go to M&S” channels the pent up melancholy of a day’s claustrophobic boredom into an emotive performance. As I Die provokes a mass execution of, what I like to call ‘vocal appropriation’. This occurs when an individual, or a collective, claims ownership of a song and attempts to sing louder than the singer, usually in a severely distorted, tuneless manner – and singers love it, in fact, they encourage it. On this night, the words
Shadows haunt the night
Burning my disguise
Reaping through the truth
Life becomes untrue
are stolen by 1000 voices, and beholders are reminded that once a song is created, it is immortalised by its listeners: music and message transcend time and exist autonomously once actualised. The anthemic quality of The Enemy is enhanced by all-time classic Enchantment, hailing from the band’s ever-popular Draconian Times album. Songs from the new album Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us are well received by a sell-out audience, with the title track proving a definite favourite. The band’s massive three-song encore leaves the crowd well satiated, and with quest fulfilled, fans stumble out of the Academy reminiscing about an awesome performance and envisioning the next Paradise Lost pilgrimage.