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Wednesday 6 December 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Paradise Lost (Live Review By James Jackson)

Paradise Lost & My Dying Bride, O2 Shepherds Bush, London, 01.12.23

I have been a fan of both of tonight’s acts for as long as I can remember, having discovered both in my teens, I am now approaching a half century and this is the only time I’ve seen My Dying Bride and my third for the headline act, Paradise Lost. 

Here at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, the decadent looking walls are bursting at the seams with a horde of old and young fans; the merch stand looks sparse, a few straggling shirts and LP’s are all that’s on show - as it happens the Paradise Lost merch hadn’t made its way to the venue, Nick Holmes showing his disdain for the courier and a formal apology placed upon the band’s social media accounts.

Before I begin, I’d like to thank the two “gentlemen” behind me for their endless chatter throughout the My Dying Bride set; just a little bit louder and I’d have not quite heard the band, so thank you gents, I applaud you.

The set list for My Dying Bride (10) consists of older tracks, a retro gig was how frontman Aaron Stainthorpe puts it; The Thrash Of Naked Limbs opens the show, swiftly followed by The Songless Bird, the first of two songs from 1993’s Turn Loose The Swans album. Catherine Blake taken from Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light precedes Like Gods Of The Sun but it’s The Cry Of Mankind taken from The Angel & The Dark River released in 1995 that really gets the crowd going, it’s a personal favourite so I’m more than happy.
She Is The Dark and Turn Loose The Swans are next before Aaron announces that they’ve only one song left and are pushed for time, so it’s the most rapid song they’ve written he states and the band perform The Forever People, a track from As The Flower Withers. As I said I’m a happy man, I’ve wanted to see My Dying Bride perform live for years now and I’ve finally done it and I’m far from disappointed.

The set list for Paradise Lost (10) was never going to contain too many surprises, we are here tonight to see and hear the band perform the Icon album, celebrating its 30th anniversary and the recent re-release of what has to be one of the best metal albums of the early 90’s. Opening with album closer Deus Misereatur makes a lot of sense, it’s a brooding instrumental piece, a perfect intro for a band whose whole demeanour is dark and brooding. 

From then on it’s the album track listing and no need for me to list that here, personal favourites Widow and True Belief were obvious highlights, I believe the latter to be the first Paradise Lost song I heard, it was either that or As I Die from the Shades Of God album. The band are on form and it shows, the audience lapping up every moment; Nick Holmes flanked by the band, his dry Northern humour filling the gap between songs. To hear Icon performed live in its entirety, was impressive; the songs as relevant as they were when the album first debuted.

The encore consists of Sweetness taken from the 1994 Seals The Sense EP, Pity The Sadness from Shades Of God, No Hope In Sight from The Plague Within and Ghosts from 2020’s Obsidian album. A dream lineup tonight from two of my favourite bands and despite spilling out into the cold, foggy night of London in December, a two and a half hour drive home awaiting me, I’m feeling elated.

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