Live Review: Illenium Rises From the Ashes
by Noor Mchallah
Photo courtesy of Noor Mchallah
“It’s unavoidable, just happens. When you grow up your heart dies.”
This introduction sent chills down everyone’s spines.
Kicking off the third night of the Ascend Tour at the Tsongas Center at the University of MassachusettsLowell onSeptember 20, Illenium outdid himself. There are few moments in your life that you cherish forever—and this concert is one of them.
Nicholas Miller—also known as Illenium—is one of the most influential electronic artists of this generation. With the release of “Ashes”in 2016, “Awake” in 2017and now “Ascend” in 2019, he has broken all boundaries within the dance and electronic genre. His music evokes a great deal of emotion among his fans with meaningful lyrics and incredible beats that intertwine perfectly.
Illenium uses the phoenix to represent himself which makes him THAT much better as all three of his albums connect.
The first one incorporates the ashes of a phoenix, the second one shows that the phoenix has risen from the ashes and the third represents the phoenixfully mobile and transformed—stronger than ever.
The three albums represent Nick and the things that he’s endured himself, coming out stronger than ever.On August 3, 2019, Illenium released the single “Take You Down” off “Ascend.”
Prior to releasing the song, he posted a letter on all social media platforms explaining his struggle with addiction and the meaning behind this song. “Six years ago I overdosed on heroin...I was trapped in it, had no passion, no direction, and truly hated myself...my upcoming song “Take You Down” is about my struggles with addiction and what it can do to families and loved ones...To anyone struggling like I did, not just with addiction but anything in life, I hope you guys can find peace in your struggles and know that anything can be overcome.”
The amount of thought and emotion he puts into his songs is unlike anything else, and when he played this song live you could see the bittersweet pain that his fans had on their face. Everyone faces his or her own struggles and Illenium’s music relates to all these struggles, making his fans feel incredibly connected.
Illenium’s fan base is known to be one of the best as his merchandise is consistently sold out and his famous “Illenium Jerseys” are worn by most people at his concerts (I can attest to this).
He makes music that makes people feel something deeply, he can connect music to your soul, which is a very difficult thing to do when there are electronic beats involved. From the beautiful lighting that synchronized with the beats to the smiles on everyone’s face, the energy was beyond compare.
The song that stood out the most to me was “Lonely,” which has a prelude called “Angel.” the voice of Robert Williams from the movie“Good Will Hunting” plays over a sweet, gloomy slow violin.
He says, “You don’t know about real loss, ’causethat only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself,” and immediately the song transitions into “Lonely.”
The intensity and feeling that this song brought to the crowd was something I’ve never seen at a concert before. Everyone was singing along and some were even crying, unable to understand how one human could make such an intense song. The backdrop for this song started with simple purple lights and eventually transitioned to strobing red lights with the phoenix flying across the screen. The crowd was in awe.
Any fan of Illenium knows he can put on a good show. He has come such a long way, from being a recovering addict to going on a tour that will eventually let him play three nights at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, one of the most important arenas to play in as an electronic artist.
If you ever get the chance to go to an Illenium concert, I highly recommend you attend because it will change your life in an intangible way.