at Le Zénith, Paris, France, February 7, 2023

EPICA (Live at Le Zénith, Paris, February 7, 2023)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

With the massive strikes that impacted more than half of the transports in Paris that day, reaching the Zénith for the long-awaited show of Apocalyptica and Epica in this Epic Apocalypse tour, was already an adventure. The audience trickled in throughout the evening and when Wheel started their opening set, the venue was far from bursting.


Thankfully the audience had grown by the time the gigantic screen behind the stage lit on to display a peaceful green field under a brilliant white sky. But it was not such a peaceful start with the haunting beginning of Cell-O their last album and the song “Ashes Of The Modern World.” Apocalyptica’s masterpiece took up a new dimension, more vivid and delightfully dismal, played on a stage. The sound rendition was impeccable, which is not always easy to achieve with electrified wooden cellos. While his bandmates were headbanging restlessly Mikko Sirén, behind the drums was impressive as always, in his octopus-like manner, and bearing a good part of the aggressiveness of the band’s music.

With softer moments like “Grace,” the setlist was cleverly exploring their discography and it was a good surprise to hear “I’m Not Jesus” with Franky Perez on vocals (originally performed by Corey Taylor.)

Only here on stage for a few songs, the American singer truly made the best of it, even taking the place of Mikko Sirén behind the drum kit through a portion of “Shadowmaker.” With a stone face battered by the rain on the screen, “Shadowmaker” was nothing but imposing. It sounded at times that the organic matter of the instruments came back to life in a deafening roar, deep down from the depths of the earth, or like the hum of an enormous insect. It seemed impossible that the wooden cases would not shatter in an immense crack.

The live rendition of “I Don’t Care” is always better than the original version especially when the piano is replaced by the much more impressive cello solo. Back with the instrumental songs, “Nothing Else Matters” was eagerly awaited and did not fail to move deeply. Played by Apocalyptica, this song could make stones cry. The same goes for “Farewell.” Luckily “Seek & Destroy” was here to breathe and shake a new elan into everybody, with the usual theatrics and shenanigans of Perttu Kivilaakso (which must give nightmares to every luthier). The show ended with “In The Hall of the Mountain King” undoubtedly the most Metal of classic pieces, that leaves you dizzy and speechless.

A truly impressive performance from a unique band!


With the bewilderment left by Apocalyptica, Epica had a tough task to achieve. Epica shows usually require samples to fill in for the operatic parts of their songs, which forces them to keep a very tight program. Indeed they cannot perform with an orchestra every time. Despite this, they performed admirably mixing timeless classics with new titles from the excellent Omega.

“Abyss of Time” calmed any apprehension one could have as they literally set fire to the stage. Energetic and powerful the title was an instant hit. Simone Simons was in great vocal form throughout the show. Just like Mark Jansen, who is perhaps not the most powerful extreme singer but who, on this occasion sounded even better than on the albums, especially for the older songs.

While Apocalyptica’s scenery remained minimalist, Epica’s show was flamboyant and fiery. A few steps allowed the musicians to move freely from the drums and keyboard platform to the front of the stage and closer to the audience. “Victims of Contingency” and “Unchain Utopia” were a good way to dive into the rich discography of the band, while “The Final Lullaby” (so catchy!) was a surprising addition from their last release “The Alchemy Project” a collaborative album featuring some of the current greatest names of Metal. “The Skeleton Key” and “Code Of Life” were also from Omega, but surprisingly not “Freedom – The Wolf Within” which has the potential of a hymn. As the evening went on, Coen Janssen and Isaac Delahaye, almost the comic duo, become more and more mischievous.

But the moment that everyone awaited was the rendition of “Rise Again” with Apocalyptica released a few weeks ago. But no, the title was absent from the setlist, instead Apocalyptica came back on stage to perform “Rivers” (also from Omega.) The emotion of the moment rivaled with “Nothing Else Matters” and “Farewell” as the stones went back to their crying.

The very progressive “Design The Universe” ended the show before the encores turned the Zénith into a party rather than a concert. While some in the audience had to leave before the end to catch the last trains, the encores lifted the spirits with a last dose of energy, sing along and energy.

Setlist – Apocalyptica

  1. Ashes of the Modern World
  2. Grace
  3. I’m Not Jesus
  4. Not Strong Enough
  5. I Don’t Care
  6. Shadowmaker
  7. Nothing Else Matters
  8. Seek & Destroy
  9. Farewell
  10. In The Hall  of the Mountain King

Setlist – Epica

  1. Alpha – Anteludium (intro)
  2. Abyss of Time – Countdown to Singularity
  3. The Essence of Silence
  4. Victims Of Contingency
  5. Unchain Utopia
  6. The Final Lullaby
  7. Fools of Damnation
  8. The Skeleton Key
  9. Rivers (With Apocalyptica)
  10. Code Of Life
  11. Design Your Universe
  12. Cry for the Moon (Encore)
  13. Beyond the Matrix (Encore)
  14. Consign to Oblivion (Encore)


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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