WORCESTER — If there was any lingering doubt, Evanescence’s Amy Lee proved at Friday night’s sold-out show at the Palladium that she is the best rock ’n’ roll singer (man or woman) under 30 selling records and packing them in at concert venues today.
Under her jet-black hair, pasty white skin, blue-eyeliner and expressive light-green eyes lurk a force to be reckoned with. Simply put, the 29-year-old Lee is a powerhouse when she unleashes her blessed pipes and cursed spite, and, arguably, has no equal.
Whether she was reeling from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or slipping off this mortal coil to reunite with a lover who is 6 feet under, Lee cast an enchanting spell on the audience with her sensual, seductive and high-strung vocals.
Lee intimately and intensely ached and quaked her dark tales of unrequited love, damaging addiction, suicide pacts and dark vengeance with unwavering energy. While there is no doubt that she is truly the star of the band, the latest incarnation of Evanescence — including lead guitarist Terry Balsamo, rhythm guitarist Troy McLawhorn, bassist Tim McCord and drummer Will Hunt — is the heaviest and tightest-sounding yet.
Touring behind the self-titled “Evanescence,” the band’s third studio album (and second back-to-back chart-topper), Evanescence (the band) delivered a blistering 75-minute, 17-song set that included a three-song encore. In total, Evanescence played nine songs from the new album (which sound better when heard live), four from the band’s 2003 debut, “Fallen” (which sold 17 million copies worldwide and earned two Grammy Awards) and four from their 2006 sophomore disc, “The Open Door” (which sold 6 million copies).
Sashaying on stage in a slinky black get-up consisting of a single-shoulder-bearing asymmetrical top, matching latex pants and silver streamers dangling from her right arm (as if she needed a little flash), Lee kicked off the evening with “What You Want,” the leadoff single from the band’s latest. Lee cooed, “Hello, hello, remember me?” How could we ever forget you?
Making up for lost time, Lee’s voice soared to the rafters as she cried out from the heart of the metal maelstrom of crunchy guitars, thunderous bass lines and pummeling drums.
Lee’s a top-notch enchantress who can be hypnotic and hellish, potent and poignant often at the same time, as evident on the heavy duty rock anthem, “Going Under.” In full Gothic heroine mode, Lee swung her Morticia Addams-like locks back and forth and, in spite of the song’s inherent bleakness, it vibrantly rocked.
Lee sang every song as though it were her last. She poured out her guts and pounded on her electric keyboards during “The Other Side.” She must have driven the stray dogs in the neighborhood crazy when she reached what seemed like an impossible-to-achieve high note on the cathartic opus “Weight of the World.” And on the Deftones-inspired “The Change,” she cried out, “Can you hear me? Can your hear me?” when it was already quite evident that the rabid crowd was holding onto her every word.
Lee took it down a notch in volume but not in emotional intensity on “Lost in Paradise.” Perched behind a Baldwin baby grand, Lee showed her kinship with Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Bjork as her tender, tortured vocals intertwined with her icy tickling of the ivories.
In addition to her incorporable angelic vocals, Lee continued her baroque piano playing juxtaposed with the fire and brimstone assault of her band mates on “My Heart is Broken,” which is slated to be the second single off a new album to be released on Halloween day.
A fist-pumping Lee spat her stinging bile during “Sick” and “Call Me When You’re Sober.”
The doom and gloom darling ended the main set with two tracks from “Fallen”: the dreamy and intoxicating “Imaginary” and the band’s breakthrough hit “Bring Me to Life.” The latter started off as an eerie keyboard dirge before it erupted into an emotional scorcher that still has the same intensity as it did when it first captured the tempestuous hearts and tortured minds of Evanescence fans.
All smiles as she returned to the stage for an encore, Lee belted out “Never Go Back” (which was reportedly inspired by the 2011 Tôhoku earthquake and tsunami). On the piano ballad “My Immortal,” Lee’s warm, fragile voice revealed open wounds and deep emotional scars, to which the audience (many of whom sang along) could certainly relate.
The two opening acts were pleasant surprises. Los Angeles rockers and potential rock-gods-in-training Rival Sons showed that there are young bands out there still listening to Zeppelin records and (from the sounds of the sweaty and sinewy grooves that made up the Rival Sons’ scorching mini-set) putting that inspiration to good use. Singer Jay Buchanan and blues-rocking guitarist Scott Holiday has the Robert Plant-Jimmy Page dynamic down pat, while bassist Robin Everhart and drummer Michael Miley weren’t shabby, either. If rock radio wasn’t dead, Rival Sons would be all over the airwaves for sure.
The second opener’s lead singer, Taylor Momsen — aka Jenny Humphrey on the CW television series “Gossip Girl,” the face for Madonna’s “Material Girl” fashion line and, who could forget, Cindy Lou Who in the live-action Hollywood treatment of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — now thinks she a rock star. You know what? She’s right.
The 18-year-old Momsen fronted a scruffy New York City garage band called The Pretty Reckless. Sporting a leather jacket, baggy Jimi Hendrix T-shirt that served as short dress, knee-high leather boots, garters, raccoon eye makeup and blond locks down to her waist, she looked like an Avril Lavigne on the skids but sounded like Courtney Love when she could still sing.
During the band’s 40-minute, nine-song set showcasing the band’s latest, “Light Me Up” (and featured a surprisingly solid cover of Audioslave’s “Like a Stone”), Momsen proved she was more than just a pretty, young face playing trailer-trash Barbie in her off time.
Despite the constant gyrating, repeated F-bombs and showing the audience her black panties twice (all unnecessary but appreciated by the dirty and soon-to-be dirty old men in the audience), Momsen can really, really sing and has an uncanny knack for snappy, hook-laden ditties.
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