Dark Beauty – The Dark Angel’s Journey Begins
Live Gig Cast – 20th August 2017
Review By Beth Jones
5 ½ / 10
With the ever-progressing trends of new technology comes the new way of performing live to your fans in the form of live casting “Living Room Gigs” via ConcertWindow.com. This was my first experience of such an event, but as it was still technically live, I thought I would review it from the comfort of my own home, drinking a cup of tea!
Rick had received the invitation to this event from the band a couple of months back, so we had noted it down to tune in. The band had picked the live cast time so fans on both sides of the pond could enjoy it – 4pm EDT or 9pm BST, which made it very accessible for all, and was great for us as we were able to settle down for the evening with it.
So, who are Dark Beauty? Hailing from New Jersey, USA, they are a four-piece Symphonic Gothic Progressive Rock band consisting of Liz Tapia – Founder and Lead Vocalist/Songwriter, Bryan Zeigler on Lead Guitarist, Warren Helms on Keys and Dan Granda on Drums/Percussion. Their first album, ‘Fall From Grace’ was released in 2014.
The performance for this event was a stripped back version of their album, with just Liz and Brian and pre – recorded backing tracks from the rest of the band.
The proceedings began with Guitarist, Brian inviting us on a journey of exploration to the dark and evil world of Markhum – the realm of the Dark Beauty – the fallen Dark Angel. The idea of the story is very good, although I am not sure that it transmitted brilliantly through this performance. The lack of lighting and clumsy backdrop meant that the mystique of the performance was somewhat lost.
That said, musically both Liz and Brian are clearly technically very accomplished and had obviously worked very hard to make sure that their live sections synched perfectly with the pre – recorded backing that provided the rest of the orchestration. Liz’s voice has a lovely warm, calming Mezzo tone and she was able to express a slight melancholy air through her delivery, and Brian’s guitar solos were not overly fussy. Each song flowed comfortably on from the last and there was still the sense of a story being told, although I feel there was a little too much down time and talking between songs.
They also took on two covers by bands who have influenced them over the years – Metallica’s ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and Rush’s ‘Tom Sawyer’. These influences, along with the likes of Sabbath, were easy to spot in their performance and it was good to see them acknowledge this with these covers. It was also great to see that they obviously have a lot of passion about their music and were very excited to announce that they are in the process of recording their second album.
They also treated us to a performance of a new song which is as yet un-recorded, so was performed with no backing track, just Brian’s guitar and Liz’s voice. Personally, I think the whole set would have been better done this way, as this was the best song in their set and that, due to the limitations of this kind of performance, the rest of the set felt a little uncomfortable; There were level issues and pitching issues throughout when they were using the backing tracks – the guitar was often lost below the bass and percussion of the backing, and the vocals were at times a little flat, possibly because Liz may have been struggling to hear. As the screen was only focused on the upper half of them, I couldn’t tell what monitor set up they had.
Of course, the sound quality of a gig like this is limited to the quality of the broadcast equipment, as well as the quality of equipment the viewer is viewing from at the other end, and for this reason I am not sold on this as a medium for live performance. Yes, it has its practical merits, but to the detriment of the emotional attachment to the audience. Maybe I am just old fashioned, but for me it just didn’t quite work. I think the people in the room with them will have had a much different experience to me and I think when the band watch the video back, they will see a lot of things they want to do differently next time (which they announced will be a Halloween Live Cast show in October).
So, my final thoughts. Musically, Dark Beauty are very good. Their songs are dark, mystical and interesting, and they have a good, solid sound. But that, for me, doesn’t transmit well in a live performance in this medium. Kudos to them for giving it a go, though – you never know until you try.
I will definitely be tuning in in October to see what they have done differently and am very interested to see how they grow as a band, and await the release of their next album. Hopefully one day I will get to see them actually live and be blown away by their performance.
In summary – The band; I like it a lot, The live performance casting medium; …..erm…… I like it a lot less!