Gig review: VREID – Barfly, London, 4 April 2013

Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Photos by Fabiola Santini

I have been living in the UK for a good twelve years now, however, I still find myself somewhat baffled by the state of some venues here in London. Take, for instance, Camden’s Barfly!I mean, who in their right state of mind thought that an almost derelict, urine-saturated, hundred year old building whose lively colours have long faded and whose wooden staircase is the stuff of nightmares for anyone weighing more than a child can accommodate an extreme Metal show? I have lived in houses whose living rooms have been bigger than the ‘venue’ which, on the early evening of the 4th of April, hosted three of the most interesting exponents of Norwegian Metal.

I arrived at the venue early enough to conduct an interview with Vreid’s Jarle “Hvàll” Kvåle (bass) but a much needed break following our interesting chat resulted in me catching Progressive Metallers In Vain performing their last song of the night – an atmospheric mid tempo piece that attracted a fairly positive reaction from the hundred and fifty or so punters who had already gathered in the venue.

As far as crowd was concerned, this was one of the youngest and most diverse I have seen in a long time and the lack of a barrier and a photo pit meant that both the bands and their fans would enjoy a very intimate encounter.

Solefald took to the stage with the support of a pre-recorded classical music intro whose atmospheric value I sadly failed to enjoy due to people chatting at the bar, instead of focusing on the music on offer.

Sporting an army cap and old-school motorcycle glasses à la I.C.S.Vortex (Arcturus), singer-guitarist Lars Are Nedland kicked off the proceedings with the Punk-infused ‘CK II Channel No.6’ – a song which caused quite a stir with the audience.

Highly energized and with a constant smile on his face, which made all sound-related issues fade into insignificance, Lars made anyone’s initial inhibitions about the band’s music turn to admiration as he and his colleagues performed material covering the band’s eighteen year old career. “Red View” lifted our spirits with its bombastic drumming and experimental feel while both the multi-vocal “Backpacka Baba” and the punk infused ‘The USA Don’t Exist’ met a warm reaction with the crowd.

“Jernlov” was appropriately described by Lars as ‘a classic up our sleeve’ and when the said man introduced ‘Mont Blanc Providence Crow’ with the words: “I Want to see you all dance…”, part of the crowd willingly followed his command. Though I really enjoyed the extensive use of the…cowbell in ‘Vitets Vidd I Verdi’ it was the old-school head banging riff of “Philosophical Revolt” that stood out as the highlight of the band’s performance – a performance that ended with an English poem by Lord Byron, entitled “When The Moon Is On The Wave”.

When Vreid hit the stage twenty five or so minutes later, a quarter of the crowd had left the building which was a very sad thing to see, especially as the Sogndal-based quartet not only had the best sound but also sounded tighter than ever! Just as their predecessors, Vreid opened their show with an atmospheric intro but as the bombastic riffs of the newbie ‘The Ramble’ began to make the walls of this pitiful venue shake, we all understood and appreciated the band’s take-no-prisoners agenda.

Like a well-oiled war machine, Vreid continued their assault with the groove-infused ‘The Reap’, but I am sure that when they introduced us to the old-school sounds of ‘Songen At Fangen’, the last thing they expected was a group of drunks dancing around in circle as if they were attending a Folk music gathering!

Sture and Strom showed off their lead guitar skills in the same-titled ‘Welcome Farewell’ while both ‘Arch’ and ‘Alarm’ showcased the band’s Black Metal pedigree. ‘Sights Of Old’ is a song with various nuances that are not easy to recreate in a live environment and it is the band’s ability to make such a song the highlight of their show that proves how much they have matured musically over the years.

Sture’s call of “Are you ready for some Black n’Roll??” was followed by a killer rendition of ‘Raped By Light’ while the duet ‘At The Brook’ and ‘Pitch Black’ provided a solid ending to this highly enjoyable performance.

So, how does one sum up this show in a few words? Awful venue, average audience, impressive bands! While I once again feel the need to question the organizer’s choice of venue, I also have to mention how disappointed both the guys from Vreid looked and I was with the reactions of a certain section of the audience.

Tonight was the opening show of a short tour that will find Vreid performing in countries like Germany and Italy – countries which will hopefully show them much more respect than London did tonight.

Solefald Set List:

1. “CK II Channel No.6”/2. “Red View”/3. “Backpacka Baba”/4. “The USA Don’t Exist”/5. “Sun I Call”/6. “Jernlov”/7. “Mont Blanc Providence Crow”/8. “Vitets Vidd I Verdi”/9. “Philosophical Revolt”/10. “When The Moon Is On The Wave”

Vreid Set List:

1. “The Ramble”/2. “The Reap”/3. “Songen At Fangen”/4. “Welcome Farewell”/5. “Arche”/6. “Alarm”/7. “Sights Of Old”/8. “Raped By Light”/9. “At The Brook”/10. “Pitch Black”


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