Concert Review: Evanescence at Beale Street Festival in Memphis
As night firmly settled in on day one of the Beale Street Festival in Memphis the heat didn’t seem to get the memo. Temps were still cresting 80 degrees as Evanescence wrapped their set just after midnight. The warm temperatures certainly didn’t keep the crowd away as they packed in ever tighter to see this new spin on an old band. Its fair to ask if Evanescence is still actually Evanescence at all in the same vein as you’d question if you can still label Guns N’ Roses GNR. Sure the principal lead singers are still the same for each rock group, but all the moving pieces that make a band a band have changed.
In the case of Evanescence, Ben Moody and Amy Lee were a dynamic song writing duo that collaborated for the band’s break through album “Fallen” in 2003. David Hodges was also a key contributor of what became Evanescence in the early days. Their debut album showered the band with Grammy accolades and became one of the best selling albums of the past decade. Moody assembled compadres Will Boyd, John LeCompt and Rocky Gray to help flesh out the band’s dynamic sound.
Hodges departed almost immediately after fame came calling. Moody left the band mid-tour in 2003 and the rest of the cast stuck it out a few more years before becoming casualties of the music machine. Lee plugged onward, keeping the Evanescence moniker intact while reloading the line-up. The first post-Moody album “The Open Door” suffered the dreaded sophomore slump creatively though it did find an audience, selling an impressive six million copies. Their latest 2011 self-titled release seems to have more trouble finding its footing and that sharp decline bleed over into the band’s live show.
Was it a bad show? Certainly not. The Little Rock-based band was proud to be playing in the town they were discovered and the crowd showered them in adulation. Lee talked about how amazing it was that years before she was standing out in the audience at Beale Street dreaming of being on that stage and that dream had been realized. It was a very humble and heart felt thanks to her fans that have supported her throughout the years.
Evanescence was at their strongest when leaning back on tracks from “Fallen.” The band offered up a high-powered punch with “Going Under.” Amy Lee thrashed around the stage, hair flying to the pounding beat. There were plenty of “The Open Door” numbers included and a hefty helping of tracks from their latest self-titled work. The band performed these songs well yet these spots in the set list didn’t have the same umph as the “Fallen” numbers. The audience may have contributed to this feeling as well. They were plugged into the set from start to finish, but you could tell those old mainstays really resonated deeply with them.
In all, it was a good performance by Evanescence. Amy Lee still has the pipes that have become her claim to fame. She has a compelling stage presence that made the band great back in 2003. My only gripe is that maybe she should have wiped the slate clean and toured as Amy Lee and her band or created a new name to define this set of musicians who are clearly not Evanescence. That way the baggage of the ugly breakup and the lofty expectations of what the band was wouldn’t weigh down what could be a promising new chapter in Lee’s musical journey.
We’ll be covering the Beale Street Music Festival all weekend so be sure to check back with us throughout the weekend and Monday for our continued coverage of the event.