Whilst Within Temptation have had to put their adventurous touring plans on hold due to the global pandemic; it hasn’t stopped the group from being creative. Of course, live streaming has become a vehicle for artists to reach their fans during these strange times. But not satisfied with putting out a basic live streaming show, the Dutch symphonic outfit came up with one of the most ground-breaking streaming concerts of the pandemic era. 

Broadcast to a global audience over two days, Within Temptation married together music and technology to great effect during one of the first shows in this writer’s knowledge, to be conducted in virtual reality. The band, performing against an augmented universe, complete with cinematic narrative making The Aftermath reminiscent in places to a high-budget Hollywood movie. The atmospheric, evocative, and visually stimulating landscape changing in accordance with each track performed throughout the event.

But what of the music? Within Temptation’s hour-long performance featured a nicely balanced setlist with the new and the old seamlessly interwoven. As the group moves into the next chapter, the live debut of songs such as Entertain You, Shed My Skin, and The Purge whet our appetite for what is to come. Whilst the anthemic quality of fan favourites such as Our Solemn Hour, Paradise and And We Run was enhanced by the visually stimulating production. Particularly when the group could teleport in guest vocalists such as Tarja and Xzibit via the wonders of technology.

The Aftermath’s ground-breaking production illustrates Within Temptation’s ambition to lead the field within the new world of online concerts. Subsequently, the immersive quality of the show and the high-end audio/visual experience makes the viewer feel as though they are actually at an arena concert. The production included lighting configurations that would be incredibly complex and not to mention expensive to introduce in a regular live show, but the VR environment making the impossible plausible.

The question we ask is, in light of the current circumstances, is virtual reality the future of live production? One thing is for sure, it allows the artist to visually represent the narrative and story behind the music with ease. Permitting the band to seamlessly switch the landscape in which they are performing in accordance with the music, over and above that which could have been traditionally achieved with video screens, lighting, or backdrops. 

Whilst this technology is still relatively new, it’s doubtful virtual reality will replace the real thing, but it was most certainly a unique and enjoyable experience. Having watched The Aftermath by Within Temptation, live streaming will never be the same again. The bar has been raised.

Words by Adam Kennedy