January 20, 2023 we in Tampere, Finland were lucky enough to catch not only the first show of an epic European tour, but also the first ones to hear Katatonia‘s much anticipated 13th full-length albumSky Void of Starslive, on its release day! Pakkahuone was sold out long before the gig in Helsinki, although that too was eventually a sold out show.
Hailing all the way from across the pond, SOM from the US opened the night with a flurry of ethereal doom-pop-shoe-gaze sounds emanating from a smoke clad stage. It felt as if their sound pulled those still trickling in slowly forward as if on a string. Their sound and presence gave me similar vibes to Hangmans Chair…. but replace the grit and grime with fluffy clouds and you get SOM. Hangmans Chair meets Deftones.
Next up was Icelandic cowboys of metal Sólstafir. Although it has been over two years since their last release, it was still fresh and new to see live. We all know why. Their gig flew far beyond my expectations. I could never have imagined such an attention grabbing, spectacle of a show after years of listening to their music. It was intriguing to see how all the members have their own style and pace on stage, yet it all blends together seamlessly. At times it felt as natural as if watching them during a jam session in someones garage. Sæþór with his chiller than chill guitar playing in the shadows, to Aðalbjörn’s most eccentric front man agility, there was not one single dull moment. They also had a special (local?) guest come on stage to play the saxophone live.
Katatonia was another first for me. It was really astonishing how all three bands had a totally different sound and stage presence yet they fit together in one lineup. Katatonia was more of a performance. All the members flowed together on the same page, not as if over rehearsed but just incredibly in sync and with the same level of passion. That dry Swedish stage humor that is becoming more and more familiar to me was hidden a bit under, maybe nerves, of playing all this new material for the first time, but it was there. Jonas’s vocals have such unimaginable soul and yet a subtle flare of eccentric charisma (fueled by his walking around the stage as if arguing with himself, and classy wine glass). The backing vocals also added a beautiful undercurrent of raw emotion that the recorded versions of these songs just couldn’t portrey. It was an honor to be the first to see these new songs live, and a real pleasure to finally be able to hear a few old classics live (not to mention to achieve the impossible of photographing Mr. Renkse’s face on stage!)
October 19, 2022, Paradise Lost and Hangman’s Chair filled Pakkahuone in Tampere, Finland with the most resonating performance I’ve ever witnessed at that venue both sonically and viscerally.
Initially the gig was planned for the smaller “club” sized part of the building, but after weeks of the gig being sold out, hours before doors they announced they would move to the larger hall, opening up more tickets. It was 110% the right decision, in my opinion. Of course, the intimacy of Klubi can enhance many things when bands such as these play, it would have definitely been a completely different gig had it been kept there. However, both of these bands have such a deep, powerful sound I feel the space of Pakkahuone allowed their sound and atmosphere to expand to is full potential.
Hangman’s Chair blew me away during the first chords struck. Their sound and presence were literally and unexpectedly breathtaking. There was one audience member standing in the middle of the crowd just listening with his eyes closed, I joined him for a few seconds and yes, without sight, you could feel the music and energy in your bones. Hangman’s Chair have probably been the most energetic and raw band to fit into the “doom”genre that I have seen live. It’s pretty unique and intriguing how diverse the “doom” genre, sound and aesthetic has become. I look forward to seeing them again with Igorr in the spring.
Paradise Lost played an equally spectacular gig. Their set flowed elegantly between old and new songs, across their diverse discography of genres and vibes. The bands stage presence was chameleon-like in adapting and flowing along with the varying sounds and atmosphere of the music. Not taking themselves too seriously, they (specifically Nick Holmes) gave of a slight Type-O/Pete Steele sarcastic vibe, which, by the count of Type-O logos spotted in the audience, was just perfect. They seem to really know their fans, what they want to hear, what atmosphere to bring to the stage… would definitely love to see them again.
Eivør and Lucky Lo played not one but two magical shows in Tampere Finland 11-12.4 2022. The first show at G Livelab was a very special show for both acts. Lo excitedly mentioned that it was the only show on the tour she had a piano to play and looked like she was truely enjoying herself while playing! Both acts included the grand piano in their set, as well as Lo with her banjo and Eivør (accompanied by Mattias Kapnas on the piano) with her drum and guitar. They played unique renditions of songs as well as other songs not previously played on the tour. I was only at the second gig at Olympia on “official” business but since I also attended the G Livelab gig I want to include it in the report. I really loved the idea of these two shows together, very different venues and atmosphere that complimented each other well and gave us an opportunity to see, feel and hear these beautiful artists in unique contexts.
I have to admit, Lucky Lo‘s music is not something I would naturally listen to, but I thoroughly enjoyed both sets. She has such a humble charisma that delivers her music to the audience in such an honest and comforting way its entrancing. Although her music spans themes and sounds that are light, funky and uplifting as well melancholic and fragile, it all feels intimate and warm. In the state of the current world, it was a welcome feeling.
At the Olympia show, she explained how playing simply on the banjo is a glimpse of the core of her music and writing process, and that the recorded music might sound a bit different than what we were hearing then, since it includes a full band and much funkier vibe. One moment that gave me chills was when she was introducing the song “Sunrise/Sunset” explaining it was about life and death inspired by a good friend who had passed away.
As she struck the first notes of the song, a puff of smoke shot up behind her, illuminated by a light, like a ghost. I don’t think it was intentional or if many others noticed but it struck me.
She seemed to go with the flow of the gig, and at one point was openly pondering which song to play next. Someone from the audience suggested one of her songs and she bashfully admitted she could not play it on banjo, that she had tried but she just didn’t think it sounded right. She then remembered the previous night she had been inspired by Eivør when she played a Leonard Cohen cover (which she hadn’t done on the rest of the tour), and decided to also play a cover, and excitedly jumped into “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
These two shows were also special because they were the last of the tour, at both shows they both deviated from the setlists they had stuck with for the tour, and graced us with songs they hadn’t played live in a long time or ever!
Eivør‘s set at G Livelab was quite different on many levels (an intended pun because I personally experienced the gig both from the balcony of the venue and standing in the crowd, and even that provided a different experience). Watching from the balcony felt a bit more like watching a show, still intimate with the ability to also watch the audience but a bit detached. When I went to the floor though, it was surreal. Eivør‘s voice was so ethereal and being closer to the stage and closer to the music was almost other worldly and yet made it all more real. She played a few songs there they didn’t play at the other show such as “Verð Mín”, “Silvitni”, and few covers from Leonard Cohen and Julee Cruise. As well as really interesting adaptions of the songs they had been playing, since it was a somewhat acoustic show, or at least “Duo”, minus the full band plus a grand piano. A few of the more melancholic slow songs had an almost old timey cabaret feel.
However, at Olympia, even the intro music took the night into a completely different atmosphere. It was intense. Epic yet melancholic low grumbles of orchestral, electronic music that slowly built up the anticipation. I think because it was the last show of the tour, the whole band also helped build that anticipation through out the night. As the end came closer, they all played harder, more passionately, more loose. Eivør‘s music strings together such a wide spectrum of emotion and sound into a short space of time its really intense to see live! One moment you’re dancing to a light-hearted beat, the next you’re traveling into another time and place, something ancient and foreign yet nostalgic, and the next you’re almost in tears with a raw melancholic comfort. And of course those ethereal chants and throat singing she does with her drum are always an experience on their own. Although they are simply sounds and chants, her movements and facial expressions while she’s singing almost tell a story of their own, up for interpretation on a personal level yet clear somehow.
It was great to finally be able to see her “new” songs live, unfortunate that her latest album Segl had been released amidst the first year of the pandemic. Although I had seen her perform some of them during her live stream shows during the 2020 summer (I have to mention it was really great to kind of get to know her and her music during those weekly home recorded live streams that summer, and made me even more eager to see her live again!). And was also a treat to see, again, some songs they had not played during the rest of the tour, since it was the last show (I have a personal history with the song “Boxes” and that was one extra song they played, not to mention seeing that insane vocal magic live, gave me chills!).
To introduce the song “Gullspunnin” she recited a poem and explanation of the song and its meaning, with low atmospheric background sounds as accenting her words. It almost felt like a guided meditation, which, as I think now, isn’t such an unexpected thing to experience at her gig. Her spoken words, and sung words, chants, throat singing, growls, laughs and all the lows and highs of the music hit so many different themes and emotions its like acupuncture of the soul, in some ways providing a release that ends in peace and contentment. Even if you aren’t familiar with her music, or don’t have any personal history with her songs, it is such an intense and magical yet humble performance it will be an unforgettable experience for anyone.
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