It was a chant that hadn’t been heard in Manhattan in more than two years, and it started a little after 9 p.m., as the anxious crowd who packed out the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom started growing more and more impatient: “EVAN-ES-SCENTS, EVAN-ES-SCENTS.” And though the last time Amy Lee floated across a stage George W. Bush was in office, you wouldn’t have been able to tell from the band’s adept, hard-charging performance.
But as the Evanescence frontwoman explained to the audience at last night’s extremely intimate secret concert, the one-off performance was quite necessary. After all, on November 8th, Evanescence will be performing before 40,000 screaming fans at the Maquinaria Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the band needed a little limbering up before heading south. “Thanks for being our guinea pigs,” Lee joked to the mostly female crowd.
With Evanescence hard at work on the follow-up to 2006’s The Open Door, it’ll be another year before they’re back in New York, making last night’s concert a one-of-a-kind experience for the band’s rabid fans, who sold out the show in five minutes.
Lee, looking rested and donning bulky black boots and a multi-colored dress that looked like it was stolen from the Project Runway work room, commanded the stage, stretching her operatic pipes and stomping across the stage like a pixie on speed during the set’s opener, “Going Under,” her voice as crisp and smoky as ever. The band, featuring fill-in guitarist James Black from Finger Eleven, sounded tight, and ripped through cuts like “The Only One” and “Missing” for the mesmerized audience, who hoisted smart phones and Flip cams in the air, recording every minute.
After “Haunted,” the band pummeled the crowd through “Lithium,” with Lee swaying and bouncing around the stage, pumping her fists in the air. The anguish in Lee’s voice was palpable, and the band skillfully replicated live what they do on tape. Next came “Good Enough,” with Lee stroking the ivories and delivering her lyrics with an elegant sweetness reminiscent of Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan.
After “Whisper,” Lee and the band launched into the anthemic “Call Me When You’re Sober,” which had everyone in the place headbanging along with Lee, whose hair whipped in circles wildly as she belted out the chorus. As the song ended, a fan tossed up a teddy bear that was intended for Lee, but ended up in the grip of a stage hand.
The audience sang every lyric back at Lee during “Bring Me to Life,” which was followed by “All That I’m Living For” and Taking Over Me.” Then came “Lacrymosa” with Lee going solo for “My Immortal,” a song that’s become something of an Alanis Morissette-like battle hymn for her Goth disciples over the last few years. Before leaving the stage, Lee thanked her fans for being so supportive for so long, and promised new material was on the way.