Review + Photography by Adriana Vasile

On the last night of the ‘Artemis’ tour, American violinist Lindsey Stirling returned to London to take the Hammersmith Apollo crowd on a unique journey of sound and image. Putting forward a modern take on a classical instrument, she captivates the audience’s ears from the first notes of her violin accompanied by electronic drops, while her ballet performance locks their eyes on her elegant yet energetic moves, all to convey a very important message.

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But first, Speelburg opened the night with a feel-good, pleasant set, performing with a contagiously relaxed attitude, as if they were playing in an intimate small venue, not in front of thousands of people. They lifted the spirits and warmed up the audience for the main course.

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Speelburg (1)

Starting with her new album’s title track, Lindsey Stirling emerges from dark red shadows and starts dancing in the spotlights, covering the entire stage in an instant. It was hard to keep your eyes (and personally the camera) off her. She took us back in time to one of her earlier songs ‘Elements’, which stands out and impresses even today through its intense dubstep beats. You noticed how drastically her style has changed and yet, it holds that signature sound that puts her in a league of her own.

Coming back to more recent times, ‘Shatter Me’ unravels another dimension of her music: heavier and incorporating rock influences. Two very distinctive, powerful yet melodic voices – the violin and Lzzy Hale – have been put together and created what I believe to be a memorable song. This is actually the very first one I heard from her. I remember binging this song for a good 2 weeks, which in my case is a very long time to be obsessed with only one song.

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Seamlessly flowing into the present, ‘Masquerade’ raises the game: our favourite doll shattered the globe and has now come to life as the central piece of a play. Four dancers accompany her on stage, putting her in a different perspective. For a moment I forgot I was at a concert as their facial expressions and moves made me feel like I was watching a theatre performance instead.

As swiftly as they appeared, the dancers disappeared from the stage, leaving Lindsey alone in the spotlight to catch her breath and welcome the crowd. “I’m so excited to be here. This is our last show in Europe, so I’ve saved the best for last.” After a joyful and interactive chat with the crowd about how excited she was to have returned to London after 2 years, her love for our tube, attractive British accents and fish &c hips, she confesses she is fascinated by pirates.

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Lindsey then tasks the crowd with choosing the next song by shouting for their favourite plot. “I’m gonna need you to be extra loud”. Following the public’s will, she and her crew of dancers embark on a pirate adventure, traveling the world far and wide, across land and sea, in search for a lost treasure. They succeed, only for Lindsey to be captured by her own crew, blindfolded and hanged in the air by the moon, while still playing the violin.

Once freed, alone in the spotlight on a darkened stage, just like a narrator in a book taking a break from the fantasy and having a touch with reality, she brings us back to 2019 in the Eventim Apollo room. “This next song is very special to me because ever since I was 15, I was a fan of Evanescence.” And so she reveals what tonight’s story is all about: perseverance. She opens up to the public about her aspirations growing up and the ruthless people that made her doubt herself. However, “I had big dreams and big plans and I was ready to work for it.” And she undeniably made it: she gets to perform on stage and moreover play a song with her childhood idol, Amy Lee.

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‘Love goes On and On’ follows and Lindsey dances on stage, while the video featuring Amy Lee plays on the background. It was a very emotional moment and the message started to seep through the hearts of each and every one in the room. Next, the stage went black and a surreal, motivational video followed, talking about the moon as a symbol and lesson of perseverance: even when covered by shadows, her light still exists and manages to break through and shine. Similarly, people can too break free from their doubts, fears, pain and make their dreams come true. Lindsey returned with ‘Crystalize’ – I must confess I was hoping this song will be included in the set as I love its energy and progressively heavy flow, where the dubstep seems to gradually take over the violin.

Next, she welcomed Kit Nolan on stage. She encouraged the public to look within themselves during the next song. “This is my favourite song, this is hallelujah”. They performed an acoustic version, his guitar accompanying her violin, creating a wonderfully calming yet uplifting moment. The thundery energy that defined the set so far was now tamed… but not for long.

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The ‘best for last’ she spoke of in the beginning finally came: “We prepared it just for you, a tribute to you guys, your history and your music.” What followed was a party, as the two started playing a medley of classic British songs, during which one by one of the show’s crew joined the stage and singed along, together with the crowd which was once again part of the show.

This well deserved break and touch with reality came to an end as the stage cleared up, the crew retook their positions behind the stage and Lindsey and her dancers took us back into the story with ‘Between Twilight’, when she ‘disappeared’, raised by the moon high above the stage, leaving the public to gaze at the ballerinas filling the stage, while her music was filling the entire room.

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A quick change of costumes and she re-joined the ballerinas on the stage for ‘Sleepwalking’. This was a thought provoking performance where all but Lindsey had they heads covered by umbrellas, which towards the end of the songs were lifted to reveal glowing glasses.

Another empowering video followed, picturing a futuristic world in which the hero of the story ‘must choose to accept their gift’. The ‘old’ child full of dreams and self-doubt rises to become a warrior, fighting for a happier future self. From now on there is a different, heavier energy filling the room. The performances become more intense and wilder.

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“Something that inspires me is the difference between the light and dark”, says Lindsey before diving into the lessons she learned from her battle with depression and anorexia. “The next song is about choosing light” she says before encouraging everyone to put out their phone flash lights, to which the crowd reacted in a heartbeat – the room became a sight to behold, very similar to a starry night sky. She further dives into these themes for the rest of the set, fuelled by an intense enthusiasm and passion.

All in all, this was not a concert… it was an Experience! And the public were completely and undeniably immersed in it (quite literally for those who came dressed up). Beginning in ancient times of shadows, spirits, enchanted dolls and pirates, and transitioning into a distant neon steam-punk future, she tells a tale as old as time about a hero caught in the never ending clash between darkness and light, while on a journey in search of the treasure she longs for. Using the symbol of the moon, which manages to shine even through night and shadows, she takes us through her own story which is crowned by the triumph of happiness, self-appreciation and gratitude. While the battle is never really over and challenges will always follow us around just like the shadows, everyone can overcome them and shine through as bright as the moon. This was a night of revelation, an ode to mental health and a powerful inspiration for everyone out there trying to shine through their shadows. “I hope you guys remember to dream big.”

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See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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