At first glance, the pairing of Empyre at The Tivoli with The Damn Truth may seem an unlikely combination, but when you consider the sheer breadth of rising talent across the current rock scene, it makes complete sense to bring together two contrasting bands, each with their distinct fanbases, as it would have true music lovers positively salivating at the thought.
Tivoli, Buckley – 27 July 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: Jason Samuels
It is indisputable that Empyre has a sound that is custom-made to fill and reverberate around expansive spaces. The clarity and projection of the spatial introductory chords of Waking Light, when joined by Henrik’s unique vocal, create a simply breath-taking opening, more than sufficient to seize even the most casual listener’s attention.
As the rhythm section joined, it was apparent that the mix was on point, with each of the elements vibrant and distinct. Whether it was down to the longer-term aficionados or if they had made some new fans, the reception was already positive.
Delicate, almost hallowed chords welcomed Parasites, another from their sublime sophomore release Relentless. As its intensity grew, certain passages were reminiscent of a weightier, more contemporary Magnum. Its impact is enhanced by Henrik donning the second guitar. I must revisit the sound quality, noting just how crisp yet thunderous Elliot’s Drums were.
“Good Evening. I notice that there’s not many of you drinking. It’s a Thursday, so it’s almost the weekend. This is Empyre, after all – you are going to need it”. Those familiar with the band are well aware of the vibe they take such delight in slaying.
While comparatively more delicate, Hit & Run has that melancholic melody that instantly invokes feelings of reflection which are compounded by the opening of “I don’t know what’s around me, there’s nothing that means that much here, anymore.”
‘Darkly Beautiful’ is a phrase I find myself returning to when it comes to succinctly summarising Empyre’s music and the feelings they engender. Probably Henrik’s standout vocal delivery of the evening with the note he held prior to the solo, a ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moment.
“Is there anyone having a good time? We’d better put a stop to that.”
Did’s [Coles] extended ethereal intro heralded the showstopping Only Way Out, following up with an equally tasty solo. Wholly enchanting, beckoning then seducing you to the dark side of the force where if the ears and the mind are open, limitless treasures await.
“Smothered by the arms of failure, suffocated by what made you, every waking moment wasted.” With lyrics like that extracted from the sophomore’s staccato rhythmed title track, a good-time party band they are most certainly not, but that is a major part of their mounting appeal.
“You’re too kind. You’re obviously drunk!” As the chugging riff of finale New Republic kicked in, the rhythm section was joined by scores more hands reinforcing the beat and the perfect opportunity to indulge in the ancient art of headbanging.
As befits the evening’s billing, this was altogether too brief a set, providing longer-term fans with a fix and those maiden observers a mere appetizer.
The proficiency of the musicianship is undeniable, with the sophisticated compositions and intricate arrangements giving each member the breathing space to flourish.
Regardless of the virtuosity, it all fades to dust if the mix is anything less than perfect. This evening they got the best sound I have heard in this venue. Top marks to Paul the in-house engineer.
Whether a full or a curtailed set, watching Empyre is a richly rewarding experience.
As Waking Light is still orbiting my skull, I will leave the final word to a friend who suitably summarised the performance by stating, “I have never been massively into Empyre, but I really enjoyed that.”
Praise, progress and a good indication that many others may begin to feel the same.