The pairing of symphonic-rock legends Evanescence and violinist/dancer Lindsey Stirling might seem odd at first, but the two artists recently collaborated for a track on Evanescene’s 2017 album Synthesis and hit it off. When the time to plan a tour for Synthesis came around, frontwoman Amy Lee immediately thought of Stirling saying “she is the very definition of someone outside the box.” The pair are currently on tour throughout the U.S. as the two groups tour the country and alternate sets, one opening one show, the other opening the next. Bringing their lively show to the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA on September 5th, it was Stirling’s time to set the stage for Evanescence.
Backed by a full 28-piece orchestra (more on that later), Stirling was a revelation, blowing the crowd out of their seats and into a clapping frenzy. While Stirling herself is simply a solo violinist, the show was anything but that. Stirling is a whirling dervish of action, running, jumping, prancing about the stage. Joining her was a full dance group twirling and flipping alongside her. There were costume changes, rising platforms, Bollywood numbers and inspiring speeches about believing in yourself and choosing to be happy when all seems lost.
Emerging from a seemingly clear box to the astonishment of the crowd, Stirling confessed to the crowd, “don’t worry, I’m not a magician… I’m a witch!”. Confessing to her love of Harry Potter she encouraged the crowd to chant “lumos” and hold their phones lit up in the air for her next track. While it was a somewhat brisk evening in Mountain View, Stirling left the crowd sweating and ready for the main act of Evanescence.
After a six year hiatus between new albums, 2017’s Synthesis was not quite what most fans were expecting. Instead of writing and recording new music, the band chose to re-write and re-imagine their older material with orchestral arrangements. Amy Lee explains this by saying that it had always been her dream to write music like this, as her musical influences growing up were “Mozart on one hand, and Soundgarden and Nirvana on the other.” The 16 track album also has 5 new songs, including the collaboration “Hi-Lo” with Lindsey Stirling. When planning the tour, Lee knew that the album just needed to be backed by a full orchestra, and that is what she set out to do.
Instead of trying to tour with an entire orchestra, each tour date brings in a different orchestra, one local to the area. It infuses a spark of spontaneity and improvisation, as the songs are literally being performed for the first time. This was immediately clear during the show, as Evanescence ran through an impressive setlist spanning the last 20 years, each song seemed to have been given new breath. What were once aggressive, nu-rock anthems were somber, powerful ballads.
Lee’s stellar, sweeping vocal range was the star of the show, ethereally floating above the orchestra and pounding drums. Halfway through the set the band launched into their breakout hit, 2003’s “Bring Me to Life.” As the crowd rose to their feet, they could sense that this was a new, special version, cut from Synthesis. The song’s structure has been entirely reworked, cutting out departed band member Ben Moody’s backing vocals and rap verse, but its heart and soul remain, with soaring melodies rising high into the night.
Near the end of the show, Lee stood in front of the crowd and launched into “My Immortal,” another seminal hit. With simply piano and strings backing, the song was the closest of any in the set to its original guise. While the crowd thought that would be the last song, Evanescence closed out the set with a special surprise, bringing Stirling back onstage to run through a frantic and powerful medley of Karl Jenkins’ “Palladio,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “No More Tears,” and Sia’s “Alive.” As Evanescence has moved through 20 years of existence, lineup changes, and new albums, this final song seemed to be the perfect representation of what Amy Lee has been trying to build all these years with the band: classical scales meshed with powerful rock, all topped off with a soaring melody. While many bands these days are reuniting to play hits from their “glory days,” Evanescence has refreshingly forged ahead into the future with a bold new sound.