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Epica - Special Retrospect show in Eindhoven
In a genre overflowing with bands that share a similar sound, Epica is one of the few bands that has always stood out. Creating their own sound and increasing their fanbase thoughout the years, Epica decided to celebrate those 10 years of music through a special concert called Retrospect. For this special night they hauled over the Hungarian orchestra and choir they worked with on The Classical Conspiracy, and gathered them all up in Eindhoven for a sold out concert that will feature on Epica’s first DVD that will be released.
Long time Epica fans might remember the concert in Paradiso in 2006, which would have also been released on DVD if not for the unfortunate bankruptcy of their previous record label. Though Het Klokhuis in Eindhoven does not have the charm that Paradiso has, it certainly has its perks for the Retrospect show. The doors opened in time, and the large venue was well prepared for the 4200 fans that came from all over the world, eager to get in. The large hall was not cramped up and well ventilated, so all fans could breathe throughout the 3 hour show that was to come.
Before the show started, Epica projected a looping movie of several well-known metal bands congratulating them on their 10 year anniversary. Especially nice were the messages from founding Epica members Jeroen, Ad and Yves – the latter reminding everyone that Epica was actually founded in 2002, and congratulating the band on their 11th anniversary. This also raised a question: would the previous band members join Epica on stage? Though this was expected, doubt slipped in when they showed the recorded video message.
When the orchestra started playing, tension rose in the building, and when the band climbed the stage, the first wall of sound that erupted came not from the stage, but from the audience. 
Epica opened with Monopoly on Truth’, the opening track of their latest album Requiem for the Indifferent. Red flames burst across the stage, and it set the tone for the evening: solid, hard and epic. After their opener they immediately jumped back to their first album opener with Sensorium’, from The Phantom Agony. Always a favorite of the public, this was very well received. A bit more recent material came with Unleashed’ and Martyr of the Free Word’, both from Design Your Universe.
Continuing with a song from The Divine Conspiracy, Simone sang her most beautiful rendition of Chasing the Dragon’ we have heard from her so far. While singing, the crowd could watch two rope dancers who performed high up in the air. Both ladies performed a choreography synchronized to the song, and the result was an almost mesmerizing sight. Speaking of the visual aspect, the lights department had gone all out for this show. Though the lightshow sometimes distracted a bit, and made seeing the orchestra a bit difficult if you were in the back, it was solid and will turn out beautifully for the DVD.
Taking a break from Epica songs, Presto by Vivaldi was played. This one had appeared on The Classical Conspiracy, Epica’s only live album up to date. It was nice that they also marked that chapter of their career and not just the studio albums. The violinist playing the solo got to be a genuine rock star on stage, and the crowd cheered for him as much as they did for the other band members.
Surprisingly, the band then played Never Enough’. Though this was the most promoted song from TDC, it was never a really popular song amongst the fans, who deemed the song to poppy and not heavy enough. Wedged in between Presto and Stabat Mater Dolorosa’, this seemed a bit out of place. Speaking of Stabat Mater’, Floor Janssen (ex-After Forever, Revamp) joined Simone on stage to sing this beautiful aria with her. Floor Janssen is currently touring with Nightwish, but being an absolute favorite in the genre, I was glad she had found time in her schedule to perform with Epica. I was a little bit afraid her voice would drown out Simone’s as it had sometimes in the past, but Simone showed the had upped her game since then, hitting her high notes with perfection and power.
Continuing with a ballad, Simone announced they would play Twin Flames’, a bonus track from their latest album for the first time. Though absolutely beautiful, a ballad right after an aria was a bit too much calmness, and I was eager to hear guitars screaming again. I got my wish with Serenade of Self-destruction’. This also marked approximately the first half of the show, where they had played much more ‘new’ material then old, and I got a bit worried that Retrospect would lean to heavily towards the newer material. Though the band had some changes in line-up it was logical that they would play more songs where all band members had participated, I still hoped for some of the older songs that are not performed that often.
At that point, the orchestra and choir decided they did not need Epica to perform an Epica-show, and they played a medley that started with ‘Feint’ from their first album, and ended with ‘Deep Water Horizon’ from their last. The medley blended into The Divine Conspiracy’. In a normal show you can only play so many songs, so a lot of the longer ones will have to make way for another. Luckily, in a 3 hour long concert, time is not an issue.
Simone announced another ballad, Delirium’. Though never one of my favorites, it was clear this was the perfect song to be sung while being supported by a choir instead of a backing track. A good choice for the show, but a bit cramped up in the middle with all the other non-heavy songs. Going back in time, a song from their second album Consign to Oblivion was finally played. Blank Infinity’ was not a surprising choice considering they had performed in TCC and it is on the set list more often, but the song was welcomed by the audience as an old time favorite. Followed by The Obsessive Devotion’, with these two songs the band left the ballads behind them for the remainder of the concert.
The second surprise of the show (the first being Floor) had already slipped out by Mark Jansen in an interview. A special song called Retrospect’ was written especially for tonight. While most Epica songs touch darker subjects, this song was a tribute to all the fans that supported them throughout the years. The song was a bit poppy, but catchy and easy to listen to, and it also made full use of the orchestra. I somehow doubt this one will stay on the set list, but it will only make the song more special to those who heard it at the concert it was meant for.
It was time for a non-Epica song again, this time one that had been performed with and without the orchestra. The Imperial March has been performed quite often, but it remains a real crowd pleaser.
Taking the audience back again, Epica hauled in their final surprise guest performances of the evening. Founding members Ad, Yves and Jeroen joined the band on stage, and the band played in their original line up for the first time since Jeroen left the band after their second studio album. They performed one of the most popular Epica songs before he took his leave. ‘Quietus’ sounded as it was supposed to sound. You could hear that these old band members have a different style of playing than their replacements, and for this song everything seemed to fit in place, as ‘Quietus’ sounded more beautiful and genuine than before.
After thanking the audience, The Phantom Agony’ – with disco lasers – was the official closing number. The audience knew better of course, because a handful of favorites were not yet performed. The band came back and no brainers Cry for the Moon’ and Sancta Terra’ were performed, the latter with Floor joining on stage again. Long-time-no-played Design Your Universe’ was very well received by the audience, and the quiet ending was so beautiful and fragile that it really stood out.
‘Storm the Sorrow’, Epica’s latest single could of course not be omitted from the set list. And then, with only one song left, everyone in the venue knew which song was going to be played. ‘Consign to Oblivion’ had been Epica’s closing number for years in a row, and with reason. The concert went out with a bang, and with what is one of Epica’s best performances ever, we can only hope for another Retrospect in the next 10 years to come.

 - Thanks to Christine Zuiderent for this guest review!