I wasn't sure how I felt when Within Temptation announced the release of An Acoustic Night at the Theatre -yet another live album with alternative versions of previous songs. After hearing these songs on albums and live on Black Symphony, I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear more of the same. I decided to try it out because I'm a hardcore WT fan -and was relatively happy with what I found.
Even though An Acoustic Night at the Theatre features songs we've all heard before, the acoustic spin was surprisingly enjoyable and gave songs a warmer, more intimate feel. I actually felt like I had some time to breath here, as opposed to Black Symphony, which was non-stop high-octane action from start to finish. An Acoustic Night at the Theatre also allowed for Sharon to show off just how beautiful her raw voice is (before studio production) and re-focus the energy of WT on her pure, angelic vocals.
I was, though, a little surprised (and slightly disappointed) by the track list here. Many of the songs chosen translated far too easily to acoustic since they were already slower paced, such as "Memories," "Forgiven," "Frozen," "The Cross" and "All I Need." I admit that I have to forgive the selection of "Somewhere" because I loved this version even more than the Black Symphony one -despite the fact that Anneke's vocals were recorded. Something about it just felt warmer to me -stronger and more sincere.
Other songs took a greater risk. For example, "What Have You Done" was very interesting to hear acoustically; while "Caged" was a bold and strangely engaging choice (even though it sounds so completely different) and "Stand My Ground" just seemed to lose its punch (part of what I originally liked about this song was the power behind it).
The only truly new item here is "Utopia," which was also released as a single. "Utopia" features a duet between Sharon and guest vocalist Chris Brown. While Sharon sounds as gorgeous as always, I wasn't too excited about the song -it just didn't have a unique sound to it and I found it to be kind of flat.
Generally, this CD is best for hardcore WT fans. While the songs sound a little warmer and more intimate (and are kind of a nice break after Black Symphony), they wouldn't appeal much to casual listeners or those who are new to the band or genre (I suggest going right to The Heart of Everything for these folks). But I have to admit -Sharon sounds like an opera angel here and her voice is mesmerizing.