REVIEW: Epica kicks off North American Enigma tour, blows roof off Irving Plaza

Originally published 1/23/16

The coolest part about being a music photojournalist is that I get to see bands I wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise, whether it’s because I’m just not that familiar with their music or because I’m at the age where being thrashed around by headbangers in a standing room only venue no longer appeals to me.

Coming in, I had been familiar with some of Epica’s music – not enough to call myself a “fan”, I had been listening to them on and off for roughly 4 years since I first heard the names “Epica” and “Simone Simons” prior to a Nightwish show in 2012 – but enough to know I liked their music, as I tend to do with female-fronted metal bands (see: Nightwish, Leaves’ Eyes, Halestorm).

Seeing Epica live for the first time brings me to a question: do they put on one hell of a show or what? From their energy and emotion to the non-stop ass kicking symphonic metal, these guys are great live. This is completely disregarding their support, Moonspell and Starkill, both of whom left me underwhelmed (disclaimer: this is personal taste; I’m not a fan of the growlies and never listen to death or black/goth metal) and unsure of what to expect from Epica, but they more than made up for their support with a high energy set chock full of rip-your-face-off metal, non-stop all the way to the end. And to be fair, I should have known what I was in for when I arrived at the venue to see their fans lined up almost around the corner an hour before doors, filling Irving Plaza almost to capacity even before the opener (Starkill) came on, with the exclamation coming about halfway through Epica’s set, where the band stopped between songs to stare out into the capacity crowd as 1,000 people threw up the horns in unison.

For a guy who almost seriously entertained hightailing it out the door after shooting the first 3 songs, I came away very impressed by the main attraction and the reason most were there. Epica’s performance was one of the better shows I’ve seen, and they had me so into their set that I couldn’t help but throw up the horns in the VIP section towards the end of it, leaving Irving Plaza a newly minted Epica fan who would gladly pay to see next time they’re in town. What. A. Show.

Photos by Sean Murphy: