Despite what you see in many of the popular indie blogs here in Austin, there are plenty of non-indie concert choices on a regular basis for folks who don’t know or care about what so-called hipsters are into. This is still the Live Music Capital after all, and plenty of people still have no shame about getting excited about bands they hear on mainstream rock radio or discover on popular television shows like American Idol. This was evident on a night when goth-metal giants Evanescence performed a sold-out concert at Stubb’s.
A diverse and decked out crowd turned out early to line the merch table and claim their spot to see arguably the best female rock voice of the modern era, Amy Lee. Evanescence has not performed a headlining concert in Austin for years, making this night extra special for fans in Austin and Central Texas. Tuesday was also my first time getting to see the band live and Stubb’s was a great venue to do so. Evanescence could have easily filled the Music Hall or The Backyard if they played a weekend date.
Opening for Evanescence was American Idol alumnus James Durbin. Aside from his Idol fame, Durbin made headway into the public’s ear with his anthemic football arena favorite “Stand Up.” Armed with his backing band of rock “bros,” Durbin performed a solid opening set fit for the crowd in front of him. However, it wasn’t until his tribute to the late Ronnio James Dio by performing “Rainbow In The Dark” that everyone really got into the set. Much to my surprise, Durbin didn’t butcher the Dio classic and it was the highlight of the set, which consisted mostly of his debut album, Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster.
Shortly after Durbin and company left the stage, there was a sea of people everywhere you looked. With no vocal intro of any kind, Evanescence went right into “What You Want” and their mega hit “Going Under.” Lee’s vocals were as clear as they were on the band’s albums—that is, when the sound wasn’t going out on her mic. Technical issues aside, Lee and the rest of Evanescence were incredible live and every bit as flawless as people hoped. As good as the other band members were, the highlight of the set was anytime Lee got on the piano to perform, which she did for “Lost In Paradise,” “My heart Is Broken” and “Lithium.” What was also nice about her piano performances was those were the times during the set that Lee was more interactive with the crowd, showing off her personality a little and encouraging the crowd to sing along with her. That they did, especially to the ballads.
Before Evanescence came out for an encore, they concluded the main set with a disappointing rendition of “Bring Me To Life.” There was nothing wrong with their performance of the song really, but I say “disappointing” simply because that particular song originally featured founding member Ben Moody, who of course is no longer with the band after a very public break up in 2003. Having never seen Evanescence live until Tuesday night, I would have loved to hear Moody with the band.
The encore, despite being only two songs, more than made up for the little disappointment I had. Lee had the piano brought back to center stage, silencing the loud cheers that brought her back out. She began with “Your Star” off of 2006’s The Open Door album and concluded with what many were waiting to hear all night, “My Immortal.” It was the perfect end to a memorable night for Evanescence fans in attendance.