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Sunday 17 November 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Lacuna Coil (Live Review By Paul Hutchings)

Lacuna Coil, SWX, Bristol

Editor's Note: Due to the 6pm start time (club night afterwards) we weren't able to get to SWX for either Infected Rain or Eluveitie meaning we arrived just before the headline act took to the stage

Back in 2016 the Milanese gothic rockers had dropped Delirium, a darker and heavier album than the previous Broken Crown Halo. The supporting tour was superb, full of emotion and passion. I caught the band at The Marble Factory, a mere mile or so from tonight’s venue and they were brilliant. Roll forward three years and we arrive at Black Anima, a further step down the dark and heavy path that the band started to follow. Black Anima is a solid album, but it’s also massively sonically polished. It’s taken all the rough edges out and smoothed them.

An imposing stage set, with the band’s name stencilled in black against a foil red background dominating the back of the stage was revealed as Lacuna Coil (7) took their places. New drummer Richard Meiz taking his place first, swiftly joined by bassist Marco Coti Zelati and guitarist Diego ‘Didi’ Cavalotti, all in their gothic horror outfits. Very scary. The band launch into Blood, Tears, Dust, one of four songs from Delirium. Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro arrive, in matching outfits to a hero’s welcome. Hands and iPhones in the air. A sea of phones, capturing those blurred images that will be placed on social media which no-one will look at. But at least you were there. That’s what matters. Fuck.

Ferro’s vocals take time to level, Scabbia’s initial notes are also wobbly and the first questions come to mind about the number of samples, loops and effects that the band are relying on. Trip The Darkness follows, the light show impressive, smoke and dry ice creating the required atmospheric effect on stage. The first chatter with the crowd. It’s all a bit stadium style. Unsurprisingly. Our Truth, the first real oldie arrives, Ferro and Scabbia appear slightly less connected than on previous times. The synths, loops and harmonies on the vocals are becoming an irritant now. From the rear of the venue it’s hard to tell who is playing what. Cavalotti’s guitar sound is thin, the bass and snare drums dominating the mix.

The show progresses. It’s slick. It’s polished. It’s totally scripted. A minor technical problem dealt with without challenge. Layers Of Time arrives. The first from Black Anima and it sits comfortably into the set. Maybe too comfortably. There is little here to get too excited about. Scabbia’s scripted intros lack feeling. Reckless, a real fist pumper on vinyl is flat, devoid of the power it has on record. Does Scabbia hit those notes or is it the tapes? I can’t tell. Attention is lost, the band go through the motions,  and the chatter near the bar distracts. Sword Of Anger does provoke some response, Ferro returns to form and roars his way through it; the duel with Scabbia a brief highlight. We reach song 12 in under an hour. It’s that fast, like a production line. Bang ‘em out.

Then it’s time for that cover. The one everyone knows. Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence. It’s the one everyone apparently has come to see. Even the bar flies stop chattering and join in. It’s good but a sad reflection that the reception tops anything else on the night. Time to leave. I miss the horrendous Naughty Christmas. Thank fuck. Three of their best songs follow. I don’t really care. Nothing says you have to stay ‘til the end.

But let me take a moment to balance this largely negative review. I didn’t enjoy this gig. The venue was massively oversold. Arriving 30 minutes before they were due on stage, it was impossible to get further than the bar area. Would have been more enjoyable if I’d had a good vantage point with clearer sound? Well, obviously. But my observations about the band remain. Their stadium sized show was too big for the venue. Or at least that’s how it appears. The fact that Enjoy The Silence is still the best received song is a massive irritation. But people are lazy, people are fickle. Maybe I’m an elitist. Who the fuck knows?

A final observation: Pinned at the back of the venue for Lacuna Coil’s set, it was astonishing how many ‘fans’ were prepared to chatter loudly rather than watch the band. Crap beer, shouting at your mate to be heard whilst some annoying Italian band blathers away in the background. Sounds like a great night out to me. What? We’ve mentioned it before on here but why people spend £25 on a ticket to do that mystifies me. As does the steady stream of people who even though Lacuna Coil were on stage for a mere 75 minutes felt the need to head back and for to the bar rather than watch one of Italy’s premier metal outfits.


  1. Was a bit closer to the stage actually stood at the side so the view and sound wasn't great but you're right in that it was over sold and too small for their show. Would have been a great show in the Motorpoint but then that's too big. Tramshed perhaps. The merch stand didn't take cards either so that was a shot in the foot too. It did all seem to rushed though.

  2. Thanks for the comment Phil. I was worried that my review was too negative due to the logistics of the venue's layout (a problem for every sold out gig there to be fair) but I'm reassured by a number of comments that echoed my view.