Paradise Lost hit the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their iconic Icon album. Support was from My Dying Bride, a band fully capable of making this venue sell out any night of the week.
Paradise Lost – My Dying Bride
O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire – 1 December 2023
Words and Photography: Razorrhead Productions
This venue was an exciting place to perform due to its gothic architecture and classical vibes, which perfectly matched the mood of the night.
Paradise Lost are one of the most well-known bands within this gothic scene, especially in the UK. The band began in 1988, originating in Halifax, and started off within the realms of old school Death Metal before moving more to traditional gothic rock roots.
They became famous with their releases, such as Icon and Draconian Times. Since then, the band has had numerous changes in musical styles ranging from pure goth, ’80s style Depeche Mode, pop, and back to their roots of slow traditional Death Metal.
This show was all about the celebration of one of their biggest releases, Icon, which turned 30 years old, and they decided to play the album in its entirety.
The stage turns to a moody blood red as Paradise Lost arrive to kick things off with Deus Misereatur, the 13th track from Icon. They then played Ember’s Fire, Remembrance, and Forging Sympathy, all tracks from the Icon album but not played in the same order as the album itself.
Vocalist Nick Holmes does a fantastic job with each of these tracks as he goes back to his more old-school shouting-style vocals. They sound perfectly in tune like they had been taken straight from the album itself but more in-depth with the live feeling of the stage itself. Holmes replicates the emotions of each song perfectly, as shown by his facial expressions, so far there is no better way to represent the raw energy of this masterful release.
The leads provided by guitarist Gregor Mackintosh are godlike and perfectly in time with the record itself. He adds that much-needed gothic clarity to the monstrous rhythms provided by their other guitarist, Aaron Aedy. It’s honestly like listening to Icon in perfect synchronisation.
Like any other good band, drummer Guido Montanarini and bassist Stephen Edmondson provide the essential backbone to the tracks without them sounding too muddy, all in perfect harmony with the guitars and vocals. Safe to say, I was very pleased with the overall sound quality without it needing to sound too much in your face!
They continue their set with Joys Of Emptiness, Dying Freedom, Widow, and Colossal Rains. Afterwards, they play the remaining Icon tracks to give the audience the full and excellent experience of this record.
In between a number of tracks, we get to witness Nick pull a few jokes to lighten the mood a bit from his dark lyrics about despair and sorrow. There is a good homecoming sense from this band that fills its audience with upbeat spirits regardless of how gloomy the sound is.
After completing their album in full, the band sets off in preparation for their encore of four tracks as a present to their loyal fans. The songs included being Sweetness, Pity The Sadness, No Hope In Sight and finally Ghosts.
If you were hoping for a more traditional set with singles like Mouth and Forever Failure, then you would have been a bit disappointed. However, I think this was such a rare and special treat for their long-time fans. Tonight was very special, and it was a blast seeing these types of songs being played live. Some were live debuts, while others, such as Shallow Seasons and Forging Sympathy, had not been played live since 1994.
They have another show at Bradford on the 14th of this month, so if you are a big fan of the Icon album, then I would suggest you get there and whiteness the fantastic goth feature of Paradise Lost.
My Dying Bride
Doors open at 7 pm, with the My Dying Bride set to perform at 8 pm. Usually, it takes a fair bit of time to fill up a venue. However, for this night, the place is already almost full with fans eager to see My Dying Bride. Classical music is playing in the background as the stage turns to a moody blue, filling the venue with a haunting gothic mood before the band enters the stage.
My Dying Bride are welcomed by roaring screams and yells by the audience as they kick straight into their opening track, Thrash Of Naked Limbs.
Formed in Bradford in 1990, My Dying Bride established a lot of popularity within the gothic scene with their first release, As The Flowers Wither. They have since gained a lot of respect for creating real moody rock songs.
They continue their set with The Songless Bird, Catherine Blake and Like Gods Of The Sun. Vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe shows he is completely lost within the themes of his lyrics as he dances to the vibes of the tracks. His energy and imagery are unmatched compared to your typical gothic bands. Stainthorpe’s roars into the microphone create the perfect match for the atmospheric vibes on stage.
Aaron is not on his own, though, pulling the weight of the band. Each member adds so much affection to their instruments that, combined, they pull off a full arsenal of songs filled with despair, pride, passion, and sadness.
This is further shown in their songs, such as She Is The Dark and Turn Loose The Swans. Shaun MacGowan swaps between violins and keys to add a sense of melancholy to the sorrowful and mournful tones of each song.
They finish with Forever People, a fan favourite that ends their set on a high note, filling the audience with deep joy and satisfaction regardless of how gloomy their lyrics are.
There were a lot of people here who really felt the emotions of this band as they cried and jumped around with raw empathy.