‘ΩMEGA ALIVE’ Review

After some mystery whether they would or wouldn’t be doing a live stream concert, Epica announced on the 29th of April that their “biggest production ever, a massive show full of everything ‘EPICA’ with cherries on top” would be taking place on the 12th of June.

Now, I’m here to tell you what an understatement that was. But first, to address the elephant in the room – it was not a live concert, and it couldn’t have been. It was all pre-recorded (I suspect it was even recorded before they first announced it), edited and carefully crafted into the final product by the unequaled Panda Productions. A live show, or a livestream, could never have been made into what Omega Alive was.

Speaking of Panda Productions, their own Jens De Vos, apart from majestically directing the whole thing, brought his band, Off The Cross, to perform as an opening act. So, there you go, first big bonus – a whole extra show.

As was teased little by little to torture the fans, Omega Alive was going to be a cinematographic-like experience divided in five acts, named in such a way that OMEGA would be an acronym. And in between each act there was a “micro movie” showing the journey of a little girl they called the main character. You’ll recognize her from The Skeleton Key music video.

Starting with Overtura, the first act, Alpha was playing in the background while the main character was introduced. Then the band played Abyss of Time, The Skeleton Key and Unchain Utopia. I have to pause here for a second. Coen, the keyboard player for Epica since day one, promised that in every song there would be something different happening on stage. Mark my words: for every song. Even though the three songs were played during one act, so the stage remained almost the same throughout, different performers made their appearance: ballet dancers representing Light and Darkness, a freaking children’s choir, a German wheel and fire performers. All in one act! 

Then came Magnituda, bringing the heavy ones. The Obsessive Devotion, In All Conscience and Victims of Contingency were played. This time with a whole new stage, different clothes and make up, even Simone’s hair changed from super long straight weaves to her more natural look. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Simone and she was absolutely divine in all aspects. Her performance was outstanding, as were the guys’. When I think about this act, I think of smoke, lots and lots of smoke coming out of everywhere, even from the snakes’ mouths. Oh, did I mention they had two giant mechanical snakes as part of the stage? Yes, and they spit fire and smoke and it was magnificent. But let’s say that’s the Epica part. The cherry on top, you ask? IT RAINED. It rained. On the stage.

Photo by Tim Tronckoe

Time for the third act: Elysia. As the name suggests, it was time for Kingdom of Heaven, and they played parts I and III of the trilogy. Again, a completely different stage, new clothes, new effects, new performers, new instruments, and more fire and smoke. Of course, the songs are amazing in themselves, and the fans eagerly wanted them to be on the setlist (major win), but for them to be performed like that was beyond anybody’s dreams. Mark sang his soul out, Simone danced from beginning to end with that long white dress, Isaac soloed and went off with the acoustic guitar at parts, Rob gave it that signature sombre bass sound, Ariën shone as always… But Coen… Coen played with his different keyboards, one of which allows him to walk all around the stage and play that guitar-synths battle along with Isaac; and another one especially for the piano solo, and that one was literally a piano on fire.

Fourth act: Gravita. There came the ballads. Who longed to see Rivers debut had yet a surprise: Simone sang the acapella version, accompanied by the PA’dam choir, with zero instruments. That was followed by Once Upon a Nightmare, but also with a twist – the orchestral intro was rearranged to be played by Coen in his grand piano and Isaac in his Les Paul, both in their sparkly suit jackets (word has it that Coen even bought new shoes for the concert). This act was especially emotional, not only because of the songs, but to see Simone singing with so much passion and to follow her with a camera that circled around her while showing the boys in the outside part of a trail set on fire is truly something else. 

Last but definitely not less spectacular was Alpha∞Omega, meant to end the show while representing the return to the beginning. The songs played were Freedom, Cry for the Moon, Beyond the Matrix and, of course, Omega. Do I need to mention the stage was different, and so were the clothes, performers, etcetera, etcetera? It was like it was Christmas day and we were getting a new unexpected gift every 5 minutes. Yes, unexpected! Or have you ever expected Freedom to be performed by street dancers? Because it was. I know, you’ll say that you expected Cry for the Moon, that that’s not really a surprise. I thought so too, and I couldn’t be more wrong! They turned their old song into something so full of meaning that I’m now super proud to say it was the first Epica song I ever listened to. Me tearing up to Cry for the Moon is not something you see every day, and I’m confident I speak on behalf of all the hardcore fans.

When the show ended, the first thing I did was to hit Replay, even before getting a chance to catch my breath. Then I replayed it again and again, and now I’m writing this review knowing the setlist by heart.

It was so carefully crafted that with any given 30 seconds of the show you can find a highlight. Every member of Epica, every performer, every crew member, tech support member, camera operator, make up artist, designer, every one involved put their heart and soul into it, and it shows! You don’t get what you paid for and only that, you get tons of feelings you’ll hopefully never forget. If Epica wasn’t already my absolute favorite band, they would’ve become. And Simone can just be crowned queen of the world already.

I just hope I can buy a DVD and hold onto it for the rest of my life – it was that good.

All my praise and gratitude for Epica for having done this. Man, I love those guys!

Photo by Tim Tronckoe

On the 15th of June, from São Paulo – Brazil. Marina Pereira Oliveira

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