By Andrew Bansal
(photos by C. Jones)
May 29th 2017, The Regent, Los Angeles CA: Following a successful first outing in North America as an opening act for Sonata Arctica and Delain in 2014, German epic symphonic metal group Xandria returned for their first headline tour across the continent, also featuring Kobra and the Lotus and Once Human on a lineup of all female-fronted bands, an increasingly popular trend for touring packages coming through. Xandria are out on the road supporting their seventh and latest album ‘Theater of Dimensions’, and both opening acts are also touring to promote brand new albums. On the penultimate night of the tour, the three bands arrived in Los Angeles on Memorial Day, i.e. May 29th, to present their new material as well as older tunes in front of a reasonably sized crowd.
An evening show in Los Angeles on Memorial Day is a hard sell to say the least, and the folks at the Regent are brave souls for taking on an international touring package for this date. But they went about it the right way with a $10 advance and $15 day of show ticket price, and eventually attracted a more-than-decent turnout of Xandria and Kobra and the Lotus fans to the venue. Doors were scheduled to open at 8 and the show was set to begin at 8:30, but unfortunately, Once Human had to cancel last minute due to their singer’s illness, so the doors opened at 8:30 instead, and the set times for the other two bands remained unchanged.
Canadian metal band Kobra and the Lotus has been nothing less than a powerhouse since they burst onto the scene in 2012/13 with the release of their self-titled album. They kept going strong with the follow-up album ‘High Priestess’ (2014), and have returned into well-deserved limelight with their new album ‘Prevail I’, a stellar effort in every sense. This was KATL’s first Los Angeles area show since their massive 2014 tour with KISS and Def Leppard. Absence/separation is directly proportional to fondness, and as un-metal as it sounds, it also applies to heavy metal, none more evident than from this crowd’s response to the KATL performance, easily the most energetic and enthusiastic audience the band has played in front of in the LA area.
Many attendees were clearly here for this band and this band only, and the three-year wait did not go in vain, as fans were rewarded with a splendid set, fronted by Kobra Paige at the center of attention but with indispensable contributions by her four band mates. Taking the stage at 9:30, KATL played a 40-minute, 8-song set understandably focusing on the new material with as many as five songs off of ‘Prevail I’, not that anyone was complaining, as fans were well familiar with these tunes. But the band also obliged the loyal supporters with two great selections from ‘High Priestess’, namely ‘Hold On’ and the occasion-appropriate ‘Soldier’, and what’s still the number one fan-favorite from the band’s discography till date, the shredtastic ’50 Shades of Evil’ from the self-titled LP.
Kobra Paige is undoubtedly the finest young frontwoman in the world of heavy metal, her vocal delivery, stage presence and crowd interaction so infectious that it compels one and all to not only pay attention but also participate with claps and chants at her command. The rest of the band also keeps up with her in musicianship as well as flair, and the inevitable outcome of all five members’ on-stage exploits is a great show that turns first-timers into fans for life. They all certainly brought their A game to the Regent stage, and seemingly saved their best for LA. Kobra and the Lotus is not an acquired taste, but rather a metal phenomenon that is universally and unanimously admired by anyone and everyone who experiences it live.
Kobra and the Lotus photos:
Kobra and the Lotus set list:
03. Specimen X
04. Hold On
06. Hell On Earth
07. You Don’t Know
08. 50 Shades Of Evil
At 10:30, headliners Xandria hit the stage, the guitarists, bassist and drummer taking their positions, and last to make an entrance was singer Dianne van Giersbergen. The band definitely had their fair share of dedicated fans gathered here at the Regent, most of whom had patiently waited in line long before doors opened. Xandria, having started out in ’97, has been around for a fair while, and even though they’re new in North America as a touring entity, their fans have been listening to the band’s music for a long time and the LA fan-base was undoubtedly excited to witness Xandria as a headline act for the very first time. It this show didn’t happen to fall on Memorial Day (purely due to the itinerary and through no fault of the band, venue , promoters or anyone else involved), it would have easily been much closer to a sellout. Those who did turn up did not regret doing so and seemed to be loving every moment of the 14-song Xandria performance.
In contrast to Kobra and the Lotus, a band expert in creating indelible positive first impressions, Xandria is not everyone’s cup of tea and their show will most likely not float your boat unless you’re already a fan. The soprano vocal stylings of Dianne van Giersbergen, a Dutch singer-songwriter who is actually of dramatic soprano background, outshines and overpowers all other instruments combined, and by quite a huge margin. While this does sound impressive to anyone who can even remotely appreciate real musical talent, it can also be a bit overbearing, and takes the focus away from the songs themselves. Besides, her mannerisms and on-stage movements come across as more robotic and less graceful or charming. But the talent in her vocal delivery as well as the musicianship of her band mates is absolutely undeniable, and much respect goes to Xandria for developing a strong fan-following within the symphonic metal niche, where they face stiff competition from several other bands.
All in all, an interesting Memorial Day metal outing that shall be remembered for two very contrasting performances.
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Xandria set list:
01. Where the Heart Is Home
02. Call of Destiny
04. Forsaken Love
05. Voyage of the Fallen
08. We Are Murderers (We All)
09. The Undiscovered Land
10. Death to the Holy
13. Burn Me