Dutch metallers Stream Of Passion have taken to ending each year with a little event called 'A Winter Evening With..." where they play a special set with guests and surprises and celebrate their year.
2013 has been a good year for them ending with a successful crowd funding campaign for their new album, due to be released April 2014 so there was a good mood around the Tivoli De Helling club in Utrecht as this year's show got under way.
The early part of the set was a business as usual selection with the six piece giving it their all like they always do playing set staples such as the always immense 'Passion' and 'Collide' with it's mixture of pounding metal and sweet melodic sections. Their cover of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit' showed off lead singer Marcela Bovios's astonishing range and traditional set closer 'This Endless Night' finished off the electric set so to speak.
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Now the fun began with an acoustic section featuring some guest stars and some unexpected moments. We got a duet from a Mozart opera sung by Marcela and Xandria's Dianne Van Giersbergen, a traditional Mexican song (Ms Bovio is Mexican of course) with some great cello playing from Maaike Peterse of Kingfisher Sky/Ayreon and stripped down acoustic versions of set standards 'Broken' and 'My Leader'.
There was also an acoustic version of an as yet unrecorded song which sounded amazing and had some beautiful violin playing from Ben Mathot who has played with Ayreon among others. Highlight for me from this part of the show was a version of 'Open Your Eyes' from the band's debut done with just vocals, piano and violin. It was haunting and touching and gave many of us in the crowd goosebumps!
Things went back to full electric mode with 'Lost', the power and energy of the band and the soaring vocals sounding epic after the restraint of the acoustic songs. SoP are in the middle of recording their next studio album so next we got a little showcase of songs from it. 'Earthquake' and 'Secrets' were both strong, powerful songs with a heavy groove to them but I thought 'The Curse' was the strongest of the three with its' slightly latin sounding rhythms, strong riff and catchy chorus.
Another guest joined them for 'This Moment', Marcela sharing the vocals with Valerio Recenti from Italian metal band My Propane. This struck the first negative note of the night for me as I didn't think his vocals were strong enough to add anything to the song. He got a chance to redeem himself with a surprise cover of Skunk Anansie's 'Charlie Big Potato' which with it's high energy drama and hooklines was an inspired choice for Stream Of Passion to cover. Maybe adding an extra singer and violin was too over the top but it really sounded impressive!
Dianne Van Giersbergen returned for another duet on 'The Art Of Loss' but I thought her operatic vocals didn't really suit this song. Old favourite 'In The End' featured an extended solo section where guitarist Stephan Schultz traded licks with Ben Mathot's violin before they played some incendiary stuff in unison which had the crowd roaring it's appreciation mid song.
The final guest to make an appearance was the always impressive Amanda Somerville of Trillium/Avantasia who dueted with Marcela on 'Run Away' which also featured more great cello from Maaike Peterse. The main set was concluded with another Amanda/Marcela collaboration on 'Out In The Real World' before the crowd called the band back for an encore of 'Haunted' and a final bow from the band and all their guests.
This was as much an evening of celebration as a gig with a relaxed vibe between a cracking band and many of their staunchest fans. By necessity much of the set wasn't completely rehearsed but while this caused inconsistencies and technical delays that same vibe produced some absolutely spine tingling musical moments. All six members of Stream Of Passion are great musicians and they deserve great credit for pulling this off. I keenly await the new album next year.
There are many good quality videos on youtube from this show already. This one was filmed from right beside me and is a good example of the evening's entertainment: