And here it is, the final curtain. The news that Stream Of Passion were calling it a day came as a big and not very pleasant surprise. They want to move on and explore other musical endeavours apparently and lead singer Marcela Bovio already has a new solo album out. We could read between the lines and hypothesize on other reasons behind this decision or we can just celebrate 11 years of great music. Thankfully we have been allowed to do this one last time as the band are burning bright live before fading away.
Before this it is the turn of the support acts and 1st on are English group Awake By Design. As tonight is a celebration I don’t want to sour things and do a detailed hatchet job on them. They played a mix of power and progressive music led by a singer with a belting Tony Hadley-esque croon. By belting I mean it made me belt out of the venue to get as far away as possible from it after a couple of songs. Good luck to them and all who enjoyed but this was evidently not for my tastes or ears in the slightest.
On safer ground its old favourites Pythia up next, a band who have survived no shortage of trials themselves with the somewhat surprise departure of former singer Emily Alice Ovenden. Having caught them at Bloodstock since replacement Sophie Dorman joined, I knew we were in safe hands and so did the audience, it was one of those gigs where although not rammed everyone wanted to cram in as close to the stage as possible. My complaint with this lot is that live they do tend to turn the volume levels up a bit too high distorting their sound but luckily it seems at a more acceptable level tonight. This doesn’t stop the bombastic tones of the swaggering music powering their way out the speakers in the slightest and singer Sophie seems determined to own the songs as though they were hers in the 1st place. Sword Of Destiny cleaves its way forward and pumps up the crowd, although the singer is the shortest person on stage she commands her troops like Joan Of Arc going into battle. The rest of the band whip up a storm and thrash away on ‘Betray My Heart’ with keytarist Asmodai particularly adding to the infectious battle fervour. Occasional softer moments allow the vocals to harmonically entrance and gracefully hit the mark but there’s little room for any soppy Disney romance here and it’s not long before the players belt out their parts once more. ‘Army Of The Damned’ gives out a particularly vicious battery and ‘Sarah (Bury Her)’ is full of passion. Memories of earlier gone, this was the perfect support.
I am slightly biased but in my mind Stream Of Passion deserved to be as big as the likes of Nightwish and Epica, all good things have to come to an end and as they burst into ‘Monster’ for the last time in London it’s obvious to me that the Dutch band and Mexican singer are bowing out at the top of their game. As the song says they are spreading their wings and people are already quick to join in and sing along and get completely caught up in the music. Sticking with the recent stuff we are thrust into ‘A War Of Our Own’ or after the video they made to go with it ‘the gangster song’ as I call it. It’s absolutely gorgeous and as full of “passion” as one could hope and it is noticeable the huge applause given out at the end of each and every song by the audience. It seems to humble the band and not surprising as the crowd give it up like every song is the last. Marcella confirms the fact that it is the last show but that she has fond memories of all the ones in this venue before getting her violin out for a timely ‘For In The End.’ This proves more than heartfelt and emotional and the temptation is to hide in the corner, supping a beer and weeping but the band have other plans and counterpoise it by bouncing us around with ‘Collide.’
It’s difficult not to watch the on stage chemistry between them all and see if there is any chip in the veneer but it certainly doesn’t seem that way. Bassist Johan certainly seems in his element and jumps about hitting his axe in mid-air when given the opportunity. The sound of ‘Lost’ is a highlight, going from punishing symphonic parts to a gorgeous sense of pathos, it’s hard not to be touched by songs like this. We are asked who was at the first show when Arjen Lucassen brought the somewhat giddy and drunk band to the Borderline for the first time and I am absolutely amazed that the hand count doesn’t even hit double figures. It’s still a fond memory of mine as are songs like the gorgeous ‘Open Your Eyes’ as we are taken back to Embrace The Storm once more. Later we welcome the Radiohead cover ‘Street Spirit’ a song by a group I never would have expected to like and one that has been completely owned by this band and seems to be one of those moments the audience has really been anticipating. It seems like time has flown and all too soon last number ‘This Endless Night’ is announced and proves a powerful and driving finale. Well it would have done but there’s absolutely no chance of the band not playing an encore which is something guitarist Eric Hazebroek comes out and gives personal thanks to us all for. I didn’t recognise the cover they first played which appears to have been Sonata Arctica song ‘I Have A Right,’ a somewhat curious choice but one that went down very well. They depart bridging new ‘The Curse’ with the old ‘Haunted’ taking a massive bow at the end and leaving us to depart into the night satisfied and more than a little overwhelmed. Thanks a lot for the great music, personally it touched the heart in a way that very few bands can; you will be sorely missed.