You have a sound that blends the guitar crunch prevalent in all the so-called "nu-metal" of the past decade with electronic blips, synthesized strings and Lee's grand piano. Then you put an attractive whirling dervish of a lead singer out front, picking at all manner of dramatic emotional scabs for lyrical inspiration.
Pain is a universal emotion, particularly among a certain sort of teenager, and Lee manages to connect with them on a grand scale with rock songs that reach for the epic at all times and a goth-inspired image. Wednesday at the Saltair, Lee connected with thousands of rabid followers through a slick, relatively lo-tech set drawing from both of the band's hit albums.
Opening with "Sweet Sacrifice," the first song on "The Open Door," the diminutive Lee appeared on stage bathed in smoke and red and purple lights, an appropriately murky setting. Follow-up "Weight of the World" established the loud-soft-loud dynamic that's been mined by dozens of successful bands, a formula that serves as the basis for nearly all of Evanescence's more rocking tracks.
In fact, the most aggressive songs in Evanescence's canon are also the most monotonous on stage. "Fallen" songs like "Going Under" and "Taking Over Me," while receiving loud cheers from the fans, tended to blur together. Better were the moments when Lee sat behind her piano, as she did for the delicate "Good Enough" at mid-show and for "My Immortal" during the encore of the show that lasted just more than an hour.
Naturally, the band's singles garnered the most raucous replies from the crowd. New single "Call Me When You're Sober" had the audience in a frenzy and Lee twirling like a headbanging Stevie Nicks. "Bring Me to Life," the single that first got Evanescence attention from radio and TV, turned into a booming singalong by the time Lee hit the first chorus.
Lee is certainly ready for the larger venues that await Evanescence in the coming year. Her stage energy made up for her relatively inert band, and creative lighting easily made up for any lack of special effects or video screens. Lee's voice remained strong throughout, and the singer seemed genuinely surprised at how into the show her audience was.
"You guys really know the new stuff. That's awesome," Lee said about half-way through the show. "You make me want to work twice as hard."
Evanescence's audience certainly appreciated the effort.
Where: The Great Saltair
The Bottom Line: Amy Lee proved an engaging frontwoman as her band delivered a relentless-if-monotonous batch of goth-metal.