We Are The Fallen - King’s College London Student Union - 23/03/10

We Are The Fallen have burst onto the music scene with their first live show at a relatively small venue in King’s College, London. The ex-Evanescence musicians and new frontwoman Carly Smithson have an uphill journey ahead of them with the direction they’ve chosen to take, but their first public appearance showed more than a flicker of promise.

Now, I am nowhere near cool enough to go to a gig like this (in a sea of black-clothes, I opted for, of all things, yellow and purple). What drew me here was my ‘Idoloonie’ self; I was not going to pass up a chance to see American Idol Season 7 6th place finisher Carly Smithson in her new job. Yeah, I know, that last sentence makes me sound like a horrendous fangirl (her talent was underappreciated!). But I also was a patchy Evanescence fan in my teenage years – because hey, when you’re a teenager, angst is going to speak to you, even if only occasionally.

We Are The Fallen’s style is more ‘gothic metal’ than Evanescence’s ‘gothic rock watered down for the mainstream’, although the distinctive ethereal sound has been preserved. The depth of emotion with which Carly Smithson grasped the music and communicated it to her audience is to be commended. For me, who has seen Carly perform in the context of a reality television show, it was extremely satisfying to see her break out of those constraints and let loose in an environment she obviously felt more comfortable in (not to mention how rock’n’roll she was drinking hot tea in between songs!). The moments she took to close her eyes with an expression of serenity were sometimes more powerful than her effortless glory notes. These unfortunately weren’t always given the chance to be heard due to the overwhelming bass, but when they were, they were breathtaking.

The set was mainly new material, but included notable cover versions of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’, made to sound like a musical evil twin of the original, and Iron Maiden’s ‘Flight of Icarus’, both of which bumped up the at-times low audience energy level. Debut single ‘Bury Me Alive’ was an obvious highlight, succeeding in standing out while some other original songs seemed to blend into one another. Their chosen closer, and what they proclaimed their favourite on the debut album, was ‘Tear the World Down’, an epic number you could imagine being played as background music to the apocalypse (in a good way!).

The only drawback was that their set barely scraped an hour, shorter than the total performance time of their two warm-up acts. Still, it’s forgivable since the nature of their music was enough to (physically and emotionally) drain an audience member after an hour, let alone a performer.

If you’re an Evanescence fan, We Are The Fallen deserve a listen, although their more hard-hitting approach strikes me as a project to pursue creative desires freely rather than achieve high-charting singles. At the same time they have opened themselves up to a wider market, now more capable of drawing in heavy metal fans, not to mention American Idol crazies like myself. In any case, their next move of touring the US with Finnish band HIM is a wise one.

We Are The Fallen’s debut album Tear the World Down is out May 10thin the UK.