Delain + Xandria,
Patronaat Haarlem, The Netherlands,
15th of April 2023
Two bands and two very different line-ups since the last time they toured. That is what is in store for us tonight at the Patronaat in Haarlem, where we were to attend the show of Delain and Xandria. Unlike the day before at 013 Tilburg, Illumishade did not join for today’s show. Doors were open at 19.00 and when I arrived around 19.15, the venue was already packed!
Both Delain and Xandria have had quite a big change in the last couple of years. When we talk about Xandria, the Germans had such a drastic change in their line-up that only the founder Marco Heubaum is still there. They have had a hiatus for a couple of years and returned with their eighth record “The Wonders Still Awaiting.”
I think quite a few metalheads in the audience, including me, who have not heard the latest record, were in for a surprise when lead singer Ambre Vourvahis started singing. As their opening track was “You Will Never Be Our God” of their latest record, female growls are something which I did not expect from Xandria. But I must admit that I have been out of the loop regarding their newer material.
Tonight was the perfect opportunity to catch up though. As Xandria played only one song that wasn’t on “You Will Never Be Our God,” which was the popular “Nightfall.” And I must say, the band seemed like they had renewed energy and were having a lot of fun on stage. I would have liked to hear some more variety with songs from other records, but this sure was a nice warm up to the evening.
Just like Xandria, Delain has had a massive change in their line up. But for Delain, the new formation has some familiar faces. Composer and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt has put some of the old band members back in the team. Back on drums is Sander Zoer, who has been part of the band from 2006 until 2014. Same goes for Ronald Landa on guitars. He was part of the band from 2006 until 2009. Completely new are Ludovico Cioffi on bass and lead singer Diana Leah. Biggest challenge would be for Leah to win the hearts of the fans after Charlotte Wessels had been part of the band for over 16 years.
Delain recently released their new record “Dark Waters” and obviously most songs that were played were from that record. But besides that, we were treated to a total of nineteen songs. Songs from seven records and a special cover, now that’s a special setlist.
Just before the show, a big banner was raised so we could not see what happened. As it dropped, we saw the full band, playing “The Cold.” Leah did really well and the difference between the new record and the older songs could be heard in the way she was singing. About halfway through the show, we were treated to a very intimate cover of “Cordell” which was mainly done by Landa. He explained how he always wanted to perform this song live and that it touched him emotionally during the show in the 013, Tilburg the day before.
The full band still has the same chemistry as it had during the previous line up. Bass player Cioffi is quite a presence on stage and it’s really fun to see Landa having a blast on stage. To me it seemed as if Leah is still a bit shy or timid on stage, but there is no reason to be, as she aced both the old and the new songs.
About halfway through, the backdrop changed and we also got surprised by a special guest on stage. None other than Paolo Ribaldini joined for a few songs. Of course he is part of “Queen of Shadow”, but he also joined in for “Your Body is a Battleground,” “The Gathering” and during the encore “Sing to Me.” I was really impressed by his voice and it reminded me so much of Marco Hietala, which is impressive by itself!
As I’ve been to quite a few Delain shows already, it’s fun to have some kind of “muscle memory” during the songs on when to clap along or start jumping. It seemed as if there were a few confetti cannons to each side of the stage and I really expected to go off at the end. But strangely enough, nothing happened.
Still, this was once again one hell of a Delain show. The new line up still works and the energy they displayed and let out, resonated to the audience, which made this an amazing experience.