Once in a while you come across an opportunity you just cannot miss. On Saturday, 3rd of September, Epica played a very special show in the 013 in Tilburg, to celebrate their 20th anniversary! They promised it to be a very unique experience with guest artists and as a support act no one else than Sahara Dust!
Naturally, the show was sold out months ago and as I made my way up to the venue, the line of fans (the sold out show could house 3000 of them) was quite long already. While talking to some of the “Epicans”, I found out that some of them traveled from South America and even camped outside of the venue only to be able to stand front row at the show.
Everyone who knows just a little bit about the history of Epica, knows that the band formed twenty years ago under the name Sahara Dust. So it came as no surprise to see who entered the stage as support act, although some people in the audience still seemed confused. Lead singer Simone Simons joked about this by saying they are grateful to be performing as a support for Epica and this being their second ever show.
Sahara Dust only released a demo back in the days, thus the band played some of the older stuff Epica released in the “The Phantom Agony” record. Songs like “Sensorium,” “Illusive Consensus,” “Feint” and “The Phantom Agony” were played. This was a real treat, as some of those older songs are no longer part of the setlist. Guitarist Mark Jansen also has a history playing in After Forever, thus they snuck in one of their songs, “Follow in the Cry.” Not only that, Sahara Dust’s set also introduced us to the first guest of the evening, former bass player Yves Huts. Back in 2012, Huts left the band to spend more time in the family business “Katoen Natie,” run by his father.
In between Sahara Dust, fans had to wait about 45 minutes. In the meantime the stage was prepared and a big canvas was lowered where we could watch the history of Epica. Not only the records passed, but a long list of all the shows were shown as well, which was quite impressive to see.
One of the things I always love during Epica shows is the amount of energy and fun the band displays. The chemistry between all of the band members just ignites the audience. Seeing Coen Janssen fly all around the stage with a keyboard on wheels, Mark Jansen and Simone Simons sharing a microphone, Isaac Delahaye making heart hands with Rob van der Loo and just the whole band gathering around drummer Ariën van Weesenbeek.
During the 20h anniversary show, Epica had some surprises for us in store. The setlist contained a nice mix of old and new songs, with lots of variety. Songs like “Cry For The Moon,” “Storm The Sorrow” and “Once Upon a Nightmare” were played. Besides lots of pyro and even some fireworks, some special guests were there too to join in on the fun.
We got a children’s choir during “The Skeleton Key,” another choir for an acapella version of “Rivers”’ which sent shivers down my spine. Next to that, we had some visual treats as well in the likes of dancers on stage and even some acrobatics. I think the most surprising aspect of the show was the addition of a new, unreleased song. For that, Jørgen Munkeby (Shining) joined the stage. The song was something different than what we are used to from Epica, as it also featured a saxophone. For me, I’m still undecided about how I feel about this new song, but at first it sounded like it wouldn’t really fit the bands repertoire.
As always, the crowd has been very lively during the whole show. From singing along, moshpits, circlepits and, as is common lately during their shows, even a wall of death, everything was present. It was an energetic evening where I’m sure the band had just as much fun as the fans in the crowd. They joked throughout the whole show. For example, they asked the fans in the venue if they were having fun, everyone cheered loudly. Afterwards they asked if people at home were having fun, as the show was also livestreamed. I’m quite positive, or maybe at least hopeful, that the show will be released later on
Seif al Din
Follow in the Cry
The Phantom Agony
Cry for the Moon
The Essence of Silence
Storm the Sorrow
The Skeleton Key
Kingdom of Heaven Part I
Kingdom of Heaven Part III
Once Upon a Nightmare
Final Lullaby (with Jørgen Munkeby)
In All Conscience
Code of Life
Beyond the Matrix
Consign to Oblivion