The old joke goes, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” So what if you went to a rock concert and a comedy show broke out?
That’s one way to describe Evanescence’s triumphant return to Arkansas. “This is becoming somewhat of a circus,” Seether frontman Shaun Morgan said in an attempt to describe the mayhem that erupted over the course of a four-hour show headlined by Evanescence and Little Rock native Amy Lee.
After touring for a year and a half to support their multi-platinum album “Fallen,” Lee and her bandmates could hardly be blamed for wanting to blow off some steam in the last show of a tour that has taken them around the world and back. The enchanting Lee, a vision in black and red set off by her dark waist-length hair, displayed a mix of sensuality and strength only hinted at in the band’s major-label debut. Lee’s classically trained voice and her solo turns on the piano complemented the potent guitar duo of John LeCompt and Terry Balsamo, leaving the 6,827 who attended the concert with no doubt (pun intended) that Evanescence was much more than just a band led by an attractive woman with a skilled set of pipes.
From the opening number, the appropriately titled “Haunted,” to its encore of the anything-but-silent “Whisper,” Evanescence pulled out all the stops. “It’s good to be home,” exclaimed Lee to an equally grateful throng. When she wasn’t busy punching the air, Lee was delivering knockout vocals that left the crowd staggered but wanting for more. With only one album under their belt, Evanescence appears ready to challenge for the title of heavyweight rock stars.
For those who prefer their entertainment a little more on the humorous side, the evening’s opening acts were more than glad to fill the bill. Breaking Benjamin, four guys who could pass for Fayetteville frat boys, tried to do their best to deliver a short but powerful set, but it’s hard to take any band seriously when they are covered in Silly String. The stage crew continued their antics during Three Days Grace’s delivery of metal with a message, most likely lost on the thousands pogoing to the incessant thrum.
By the time Seether appeared, full-fledged frivolity was in place. Morgan, who apparently grew up on a steady diet of Nirvana and Alice in Chains, did his best to ignore the hijinks going on around him, including a taller-than-average leprechaun tossing handfuls of Lucky Charms cereal in the air and a trio in gorilla suits banging on cymbals. Lee, who witnessed the shenanigans from the wings, was herself the target of tomfoolery when Morgan and his band left the stage only to return during Evanescence’s set in full drag. Wearing what appeared to be some of the nicer pieces of Lee’s wardrobe, Morgan and crew pranced and sang to the amusement of some and the astonishment of others. Even Seether’s tour manager joined the fray, doing his best Lee imitation atop a piano being played by the original, who somehow managed to maintain her composure.
As somber as their music is, Evanescence and their tour mates showed that they’re not above poking fun at their images and themselves.
— By Tim Taylor
The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra opened its season Saturday night with a return visit by the 28-year-old violin virtuoso Augustin Hadelich, who had appeared with the orchestra in the Beethoven concerto two years ago.