Amorphis, Eluveitie and guests in Helsinki & Wiesbaden
3.12.2022 Helsinki Jäähalli Black Box, Finland
Going to the Jäähalli (Ice) arena, I counted about four trucks that drive the bands and their show around Europe. When I attended the show, it became clear that despite this massive cargo room capacity, there is one person who apparently did not fit – a light engineer. There was a video wall instead. Someone decided, probably, that audience should be watching the wall alone. Yet the wall was not really that high to overwhelm the stage and roughly looked like some medium-sized backdrop.
When I entered Jäähalli, it was covered in stage smoke, visible not only onstage but also in the audience. I think this becomes a bit of a pattern in these Jäähali concerts, which look very much filled with smoke compared to other places.
The concert started with Nailed to Obscurity, a German band established in 2005. It sort of feels that the name was too literal – the band does not seem to ring any bell. They performed quite OK for a warm-up band, but it literally had that “warm-up material” feeling: while the singer was massively showing off rock postures, the other members were just staying there and not doing much of a show. It is hard for me to analyze their material, but it did feel less compelling than what came next.
I was astonished that Dark Tranquillity was not billed as an equal to Eluveitie and Amorphis, being a veteran band and having a very strong style. The way they compose the music, and the impact it delivers, are usually spot on. That was the case today as well. DT features some videos on the wall but also had a strong stage presence. Not spectacular, but solid.
Eluveitie was for the second time this year in Finland, first one had been at Tuska. The band is best to be heard on open-air environment, I believe, as the Tuska gig felt more “free”. They performed their well-compiled set, but I was really perplexed by the current situation with the visual side of things. Usually, Fabienne holds her harp and performs from the front- or middle stage. This time, the harp was installed the way back in a static position – so when she played it, she was almost invisible because of the smoke and suboptimal lighting.
I’d say that it is great to see the band really perform together when you can enjoy observing Chrigel or Fabienne or other band members. This time, light-wise, only Chrigel was in focus. Fabienne came to the front often enough, but lights did not do her justice – for instance, the first song she was simply covered in a red fill and nothing else, the kind of light you find in small clubs with brutal wannabe-black-metallists that want “an atmosphere”. To put it straight, Fabienne is a beautiful singer, a beautiful woman, and a great personality and it felt really unfair not really to be able to see her. The same goes for the rest of the band, they were all looking and performing just fine, except the light wasn’t there. I have to note also that this gig, unlike the Tuska show, was done together with a new hurdy-gurdy player Annie Riediger. She is surely a matching replacement for Michalina Malisz, who left the band earlier to make her own project Lyrre. Same as Michalina (who drops by Eliuveitie gigs as a guest nowadays), she is a keen social media person.
Having seen Amorphis many times, I could not spot much of a difference with other of their precious gigs. Amorphis’ music is strong and the band has no problem playing a handful of gigs per year. Again, the show was heavily supported by the video wall, as Amorphis does for many years, but the lights were completely off again. This was quite perplexing since Tomi Joutsen is a very energetic frontman and it is really strange to see him lost in the shadows. Earlier the wall was no issue when lighting him properly. But that was really strange.
To conclude: a very solid set of bands and a great time for metal fans, but they really should rent a van for that light engineer.
Text & Fotos: Askar Ibragimov
14.12.22 Wiesbaden Schlachthof, Germany
Most of the fans probably felt the same way in the run-up to this concert: Absolute enthusiasm and anticipation because of this terrific package of bands, which made its way through Europe at the end of the year and stopped by at the Wiesbaden Schlachthof tonight to give the fans a good time.
The tour has been extremely successful so far and it would have been very surprising if anything had been different today. The bands are all well known and it is fair to say that almost every act here could have taken on a headliner status. Probably not only for this reason the Schlachthof was very well filled.
Unfortunately, the wintry traffic situation made me miss the opener Nailed To Obscurity, which annoyed me beyond measure, because according to fan statements, the North German melodic death metallers played a good gig and once again underlined their status as a brilliant live band.
Dark Tranquillity were the next to perform their technically skilled songs. Wrapped in a mystical light, the Swedes showed all their class: singer Mikael Stanne used every inch of the stage and really got the crowd moving with his unique vocal style. Right from the first song “Indentical To None”, he was in top form, just like the rest of the band. They played classics like “Atoma”, which really gets under your skin, or “Hours Passed In Exile” from the great “Damage Done” album and received the loud and well deserved applause from the audience. Dark Tranquillity delivered a very strong exclamation mark with their 45min performance. Many fans bridged the following break with a beer. 🙂
Then it was time for the extremely popular Swiss act Eluveitie, who are really difficult to classify in any way. But that’s exactly what makes this eight-piece band from Switzerland so special: they combine elements from Celtic music with Melodic Death Metal and create a special level of harmony. Especially live on stage it is very impressive how the band gives their compositions a fascinating beauty by using e.g. hurdy-gurdy, a Celtic harp, mandola and a violin and still never lose sight of a heavy metal foundation.
Frontman Christian Glanzmann was in constant contact with the audience and convinced with variable playing and with his varied singing style. It would be presumptuous to single out individual musicians here, because with Eluveitie it is a very diverse interplay, which gives the songs such enormous expression. The Swiss were unconditionally celebrated and singer “Chrigel” thanked a thousand times for the support of the Wiesbaden audience. “A Rose For Epona” or “The Call of the Mountains” are only excerpts from a very strong set of Eluveitie. The fans wanted more and more and so “Aidus”, “Ategnatos” and “Inis Mona” formed the end of a performance that I would not have expected like this and that more than convinced me. Respect !!!
Afterwards the break lasted a bit longer, but the fans were now really tuned in to the Finns Amorphis. Right away with the first notes of “Northwards”, the wave spilled over from the band to the audience and the fans celebrated every single note played by the Finns. Singer Tomi Joutsen performed fervorously and really lived out the songs. You can literally sympathize with him when you hear how he skillfully switches between his deep growls and his clean baritone voice and keeps the emotional barometer at the top.
You had the impression that the band has improved again in terms of interaction, as the men around Tomi Juotsen indeed do understand how to transmit their music to their fans and they deservedly get a lot of applause for it. A large part of the setlist was of course focused on the current album “Halo”: Songs like “On the dark Waters” or “The Moon” were very well received by the Wiesbaden audience and caused a lot of movement in front of the stage.
In an Amorphis set, cult songs like “Into Hiding” or the ingenious “Black Winter Day” must not be missing and were received by the fans with enthusiasm. Here you felt partly taken back to old times !!! 🙂 With “Silver Bride” they provided an excellent song from the younger band history and after about an hour, Amorphis closed a very good performance with the brilliant “House of Sleep”, thus fully satisfying their fans.
text & photos: Hanzi Herrmann