There has been an impressive marketing campaign behind Epica from the moment the Dutch classical metal band appeared on the scene two years ago: flyers, postcards, websites, and, recently, sessions like 2 Meter Sessies. This promotional juggernaut continued its unstoppable advance in Grand Cafe Stairways to Heaven in Utrecht on September 26th with the presentation of Epica's first DVD, We will take you with us. The DVD, containing registrations of the aforementioned 2 Meter Sessies, wouldn't go on general release until four days later, but today the press and the fans would get a preview of the product, and a chance to mingle with the band.
So Bart and I found ourselves in a reasonably filled Stairways To Heaven, where amid a sea of blackness my green sweater and Epica singer Simone Simons' red hair were two of the few spots of colour! The official programme started with an introduction by the lovely Suzanne Penning, the representative from Epica's record company Transmission Records. She presented the band with the first copy of the DVD, which they modestly accepted, except for guitarist Ad Sluijter, who got a few laughs with his pseudo-teary eyed thankyou!
Selections from the aforementioned product where then shown on screens throughout the cafe. From the acoustic 2 Meter Sessies we were treated to a cover version of Memory, a piece from the musical Cats. Now, I'm not into musicals at all, but this was one of the most beautiful things I had heard for some time. This was due in large part to the vocals of Simone, who I am convinced more and more is a huge talent. Also shown was the Making Of, telling the story of the, well, making of the session recordings. There will be a more extensive review of the DVD on this site soon, so suffice to say that this was a nice look "behind the scenes".
Next, Suzanne raffled five copies of the DVD among the fans who had become member of the Epica fanclub during the day. This turned out not to be as easy as it sounds: it seems that new fanclub members (a) are not a fan of the DVD, (b) are too shy to come up on stage to accept one, (c) have forgotten their own name, or (d) did not stay to wait for Epica's performance, because in the end it took nine names to unload five DVDs. Suzanne was quite unfazed by this, though. She said she's not used to speaking in front of people and it's not quite her hobby, but she handled it very well, hitting just the right casually humourous note.
Finally, what everyone had been waiting for: Simone, Ad and Coen (Janssen; keyboards) took the stage for a short acoustic set. The performed Feint and Run for a Fall (both included on the DVD), and a new song called Solitary Ground, the electrical version of which is to be on the band's next album. Written by Coen, Simone said it was her favourite of the new material, but not his! In any case, it sounded good, but for now we'll have to wait what the final version sounds like.
Thus ended a relaxed and from my view succesful get together of band and fans. Next time for the new album?