• Pamela Froman

Evanescence at The Santa Barbara Bowl

It was a cold night at the historic Santa Barbara Bowl, but the fans swaying in their seats didn't even notice. After all, Evanescence was on stage.

If you think Evanescence is just another rock band, then you are sadly mistaken. Evanescence is a hardcore mixture of lead vocalist Amy Lee's majestic lilting voice against guitar riffs that can shake up any house. And they have two Grammy awards to prove it. (Best Hard Rock Performance and Best New Artist 2004)

The Santa Barbara Bowl provided an intimate setting for the show, with a pit for fans near the stage and seating above. It is a small venue, so fans can feel up close and personal.

As the show opened, Amy strutted around the stage, her black hair flying, while Terry Balsamo, the band's lead guitarist, played ferociously. Several songs from the band's latest release, The Open Door, got the crowd moving. There was a black backdrop in back of the band with the symbol from the band's logo fluttering. The rock ensued and the lights literally flew between the band, the backdrop and the audience.

Amy slowed things down as a piano was rolled down the stage. "This is for the old-school fans," she proclaimed. Then she broke into the beautiful song Missing, which can only be found on the band's live album Anywhere but Home (or if you scour the internet). Lithium was next (from The Open Door), which was a crowd favorite, with the audience on their feet and singing along to the haunting lyrics. And lyrics are another thing that separates Evanescence from the pack. Their songs truly express emotion and feelings.

The rock n' roll grew intensely more passionate. A keyboard was slammed on to the beat of the hardcore sound, as the drums crashed and guitars wailed. The songs Call me When You're Sober and Bring Me to Life were performed and were powerful and incredible. You could literally feel the anguish and sentiment that went into creating these songs. And as Amy's amazing voice showered the audience, the fans responded.

The piano was pulled out again and then Amy broke into Good Enough, her solo piano and lyrical performance. The band stood quietly behind as the lights lit her as she played and sang. Gorgeous is the only way to describe it.

Then the band sang the song that felt like it connected with the audience the most: My Immortal (from the bands' first album Fallen). Everyone was singing along as Amy's voice expressed passion and pain. It was a transfixing experience.

The show closed with Your Star, a song that Amy has been interviewed as saying is her favorite and is the most difficult for her to play. And every time Amy sang the word "star," the lights behind her lit up the sky like they actually were stars. It was a perfect compliment to a band that created a truly stellar performance.

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