EVANESCENCE and STONE SOUR at the Air Canada Centre (40 Bay), January 8. Tickets: $45. Attendance: 10,000. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
Like people who get someone's name tattooed on their ass or buy an engagement ring after the first date, Arkansas neo-classical gothy alt-rockers Evanescence are trying to do way too much, way too soon.
When you get right down to it, the band, or more specifically singer Amy Lee (the sole consistent member), has only released two proper albums and enjoyed a smattering of radio hits - two achievements that usually don't translate into an arena-worthy tour de force.
It was appallingly obvious last Monday that neither the headliners nor openers Stone Sour were in any position to be on a stage that size in front of that many people.
A side-project for Corey Taylor, singer of costumed nu-metal dirtbags Slipknot, Stone Sour played a set of anguish-heavy modern rock that had all the imagination and presence of a lame grunge cover band. The singer delivered some head-scratchingly inarticulate diatribes about how shitty George Bush is (cue knee-jerk audience applause) and a song introduction explaining how "this next one is about caring about everything and everyone near to you," then yelled, "I don't give a fuck" like an angry teen looking to impress his buddies with quasi-nihilistic suburban rage.
The headlining Amy Lee Show, with her faceless backing band of hired guns, showed she has an abundance of both talent and charisma. Dammit, I tried to get into her as she stomped and danced across the stage (everyone there seemed to have a big ol' crush on her - it's pretty hard not to). Though they played for close to an hour, the band simply did not put on the kind of show worth a $45 ticket.
Through all the hits, Lee's voice was a powerful instrument that sounded like an alt-rock nod to Sarah Brightman. But when half your songs sound exactly the same (mid-tempo drums and chug-chug melodic guitar), you'd better have something more than a basic smoke and light show. Maybe a projection screen or a sword-swallower or... fuck, anything.
The whole show was a demonstration in poorly planned performance and corner-cutting - the occasional symphonic neo-classical arrangements weren't even reworked by a keyboard player, but instead crudely played in sync with the music over the P.A.
Lee has some very committed fans, and given enough time she could become an accomplished performer. But in the meantime, she should work on perfecting her act in smaller, less expensive venues.