NEW YORK — All it took was a stage hand's light tickling of the ivories on Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee's piano to incite gleeful shrieking from the female-heavy crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Monday night.
It would be another 10 minutes, filled with deafening idle chatter and the corny jokes of a local radio DJ, before the fans — which ranged from sweet little angels to Hell's Angels — would catch a glimpse of the woman they'd come here to see: Ms. Lee. And that glimpse would be accompanied by about a hundred camera flashes, which illuminated the songstress as she floated across the stage to her microphone stand.
Awash in a splash of neon light, Evanescence launched into the show's opener, "Sweet Sacrifice," the first track from the band's latest LP, The Open Door (see "Amy Lee Says New Evanescence LP Has More Sensuality"). Lee, wearing a black skirt with pink adornments, stomped around the stage confidently looking like goth's response to Madonna, circa "Like a Virgin."
Another new one, "Weight of the World," followed, and before flying into "Going Under" (from 2003's Fallen), Lee addressed the flock. "We're glad you like the new stuff," she said, seeming almost chipper as she spoke. "But we know you like the old stuff. We're going to do some of that too." With her worshipers shouting lyrics back at her, Lee waltzed, swayed and bounced around the stage like a rock-and-roll ballerina, pumping her fists in the air as the venue flashed brilliant, striking beams of multihued light.
Through explosive cuts like "The Only One," "Haunted" and "Fall Into You," one couldn't help but notice that Evanescence is a band that can duplicate what's captured on tape flawlessly. There were absolutely no deviations from the original material, and Lee's voice sounded so perfect, you'd have thought she was lip-synching — all of which made the concert feel like a record had come to life onstage.
"This is my new hometown," Lee proclaimed. "It's so great to play a show like this, in the city I love." She then introduced the audience to the band's newest member, bassist Tim McCord (see "Evanescence Lose Bassist; Amy Lee Vows To Stay On Schedule"), who played as if he'd helped found the Arkansas quartet.
Lee returned to her piano for "Lithium" and "Good Enough," delivering her cathartic words with an elegant sweetness reminiscent of Tori Amos. With the general mood having turned placid, Evanescence served the crowd a rousing wakeup call with the group's hit single "Call Me When You're Sober" (see "Evanescence's Amy Lee Isn't Afraid Of Big Bad Wolf In 'Sober' Clip"). The headbanging Lee's ponytail whipped like a helicopter blade as she belted out the chorus, "Don't cry to me/ If you loved me/ You would be here with me."
Lee could have rested her pipes during "Bring Me to Life," as the sweet-singing audience practically drowned her out at times. An encore followed "Lacrymosa," with Lee going solo for "My Immortal," a tune that's become something of a battle hymn for her gothic disciples over the last few years. Evanescence closed with "All That I'm Living For," a punishing mix of electronica, abrasive guitars and Lee's milky vocals.
Ten minutes later, just outside the Hammerstein, a row of minivans and luxury sedans lined 34th Street — inside each vehicle, a dad and/or mom. And like the scene that follows junior high school dances all across the country, fans poured out into the streets to their idling rides, gushing about the spectacle they'd just witnessed. Clearly, Lee is an idol for these girls — a strong woman who has experienced life's good and bad and is none the worse for wear.
The tour concludes on October 29 in San Francisco
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.