Within Temptation review – Earth-shattering entertainment

I’m a relatively new fan of Within Temptation. Their music has always felt a little oblique to me, or perhaps sometimes a little forced. But, while delving deeper into the Dutch band’s discography, I found myself being sucked into their realm of fantasy and theatricality. So when they eagerly hit the stage of The O2 Arena on Monday, November 14, 2022, my expectations were quite high. Miraculously: They exceeded everything I hoped for. 

The symphonic metal band exploded onto the stage with Our Solemn Hour before catapulting into Faster, their iconic exploration into opera.

Singer and frontwoman Sharon den Adel quickly let the audience know her voice left you nowhere to hide in the monolithic 20,000-person venue. Her stunning and distinctive tones soared throughout the entire set with gusto and determination.

She continued to prove how incredible her vocal range was in The Reckoning and Don’t Pray For Me. And about halfway through the set, Sharon revealed to her gripped fans that she was suffering from a cold. The entire time! If she had never admitted it, nobody in the venue would have known. She was as near to flawless as you could ever get.

Equally, the rest of the band were astounding to watch. The musicians – made up of Jeroen van Veen, Ruud Jolie, Martijn Spierenburg, Mike Coolen and Stefan Helleblad – shredded through the entire set with an infectious passion that was a joy to watch. 

Their versatility and adaptiveness made the entire Within Temptation feel like it was jumping between a group of ballads and a cacophony of metal tracks. It was glorious to see it in person. All the while, the band was bolstered by strings and keys that thickened out every inch of their composition.

Of course, the overall vibe of the show was perfected by the unbelievable set and production value of the stage. A giant, 15+-foot Mother Earth face loomed over the band from behind, like Gatsby’s eyes of Doctor TJ Eckleburg, ensuring the band delivered their best. Lasers and smoke created an unmissable atmosphere while raging fires and dragon’s breath flames ensured that every guitar solo and high note was scorchingly punctuated.

These props and curiosities worked in tandem with an array of screens that mirrored Shannon’s face from the band’s music videos, topping off the symbolism throughout their set.

While these stage additions were truly fascinating and thrilling to experience, they were, somehow, the least exciting thing on the stage. Sharon and the band were so enthralling and domineering that the entirety of The O2’s crowd was captivated. Rarely was there a moment where the crowd were not fist-pumping or head-banging. They couldn’t get enough, and nor could I.

By the time All I Need and the crowd-favourite Ice Queen began to round off the setlist, the crowd were going wild. It felt impassioned, strict, and all-encompassing. Like a Sleep Token set, the crowd felt cult-like. Totally on board with the stunning set design and vision.

But nothing received a more powerful response than Within Temptation’s flagship song: Mother Earth – and with good reason. Not only is it their most powerful song, but it’s also their most unique, stimulating, and utterly fierce.

Within Temptation did not just “play a gig”; they put on a show. It was the kind of performance that you’ll only see a few times in your life if you’re lucky. A marvel. A spectacle that fans should not hesitate to see in the future.

Within Temptation are on tour with Evanescence now.

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