It only took a few songs to see just how humble Evanescence’s frontwoman Amy Lee truly is. After belting out a completely re-imagined version of “Bring Me to Life,” the 2003 Billboard nu metal hit from the band’s debut album “Fallen,” Ms. Lee took a deep breath and exhaled.
“Regaining composure,” she said, while sitting at the piano on stage at Heinz Hall on Monday night. As organic globular shapes floated in the background, she crooned some of the gentlest lines of the song. “Breathe into me and make me real,” she sung, before moving into a chaotic storm of a chorus, dramatized by a full orchestra rather than just electric guitars. The strings and brass complemented syncopated drumming before Ms. Lee finished the song.
The lights faded to black over her long, dark hair and billowing, floor-length black gown. Despite nearly a decade and a half of touring, the vocalist still deeply emoted while on stage, as if she were singing to herself in her own bedroom. As part of Evanescence’s Synthesis tour, previewing the band’s fourth album after a brief hiatus, the band played mostly past hits from their three existing albums, re-envisioning them for an orchestra.
What may have been as subjectively depressing as Green Day’s 2009 foray into opera was actually a delight — while Ms. Lee and her bandmates shared the stage with a 28-piece ensemble, her voice emerged as the most noteworthy instrument. It was enough to make you wonder whether she was a rock star or an opera star.
“It’s honestly one of my oldest dreams to play in the orchestra,” Ms. Lee said. “So thank you for giving me that opportunity.” In songs like “End of the Dream” and “Your Star,” the classical instruments were met with electronic beats and audibly alluring sound effects, including crackles, noises like chains dragging against the floor and some eerie effects that sounded nearly ghoulish. [Source]
If Trans-Siberian Orchestra is the rock opera of choice around Christmas, then Evanescence is this year’s Halloween special. The audience notably reflected the group’s change in sound: there were teenagers with blue hair, forty-somethings in goth get-ups and people somewhere in the middle, dressed for the venue. It was a motley crew, but one that converged while screaming to Ms. Lee that they loved her. Although she didn’t talk much during the nearly hour-and-a-half long set, Ms. Lee did introduce one of Evanescence’s most popular songs.
“This next song is one of our very oldest songs and it’s kinda grown and had more and more of a life…I just want to dedicate it to you,” she said, moving into “My Immortal.” The revamped MTV hit, which illustrated the strength of the band’s new sound and ability to refresh an old song, almost makes you wonder if Evanescence had been in the wrong genre the whole time. Later, before turning to face the crowd for a new song, “Imperfection,” the lights lowered over Ms. Lee, who faced away from the audience. As she transitioned into the song, she adopted a quick, lyrical flow, almost like rapping.
“The more you try to fight it, the more you try to hide it, the more infected, rejected, you feel alone inside it.” The piano notes sounded like falling stars and the infamous Michael Myers “Halloween” theme song all at once, suitable for the last song of the regular set. The encore, which Ms. Lee mostly performed while at the piano, featured her solo song “Speak to Me,” as well as “Good Enough” and “Swimming Home.” “Good Enough” included one of the most emotional moments of the night, when Ms. Lee frankly told the audience she sometimes felt like she talked too much on stage, or that she wasn’t good enough to play with an orchestra.
“You ever have that thing where you feel like you’re not good enough?” she asked. “Those things about you that you think are flaws aren’t flaws, that’s what makes you who you are.” Perhaps Ms. Lee should take her own advice, because Evanescence belongs on stage with a full ensemble.
Courtney Linder: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @LinderPG.