Support Acts: Amoral, Acyl
Review and photos by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
The secret to musical longevity is difficult to define, however, there are bands like the Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal quintet Dark Tranquillity who seem to know very well what it takes in order to achieve it, as they have been creating good quality music and, most importantly, have remained a relevant force in the Metal world for a good twenty five years.
Knowing how good the band’s music comes across in a live environment and excited at the prospect of listening to their latest magical tunes, I decided to risk feeling like a wreck for the whole of the coming working week and headed towards the Underworld – a venue that has, for quite some time now, become my second home.
This being a Sunday evening gig, I did notice that, even an hour or so prior to the doors opening, there was a decent amount of fans queuing outside the north London. Forty or so minutes later the first opening band of the night, the Algerian Ethnic Metalers Acyl hit the stage and immediately set about winning as many Dark Tranquillity fans as they possibly could.
That was a simple task, as the band’s Sepultura-influenced riffs presented through nicely choreographed moves and with the assistance of a number of ethnic hand-made instruments went down really well with the crowd. Amine, the band’s towering front man, deserves special praise as it was his constant efforts to communicate with the audience that won the band a warm round of applause following their short but very interesting set.
Second on the bill were Amoral – a modern sounding Progressive/Melodic band from Helsinki whose compositions are characterised by constant rhythmical manipulation, flamboyant lead guitar melodies and sing-along choruses. Actually, I have an important confession to make: the first time I set my eyes on Ari Koivunen, the band’s thirty year old front man, I remember feeling somewhat less than impressed.
Don’t get me wrong, the guy can really sing but there was something about his stage presence and the way that his voice came across at the opening phase of the band’s set, when the quality of the sound on offer was not that great that made me somewhat lose interest.
It was at that stage that Ben Varon’s amazing skills on the six-string kept me connected with what was happening on stage and the moment the sound engineers finally got their act together, I finally began to understand what these Finns are all about.
There were many occasions during the band’s set that the crowd openly showed its appreciation but it was the beautiful acoustic guitar melodies together with Koivunen’s smooth vocal delivery in the nine minute “If Not Here, Where?” that stood out as the top moment in the band’s lengthy and technically inspiring set.
With two very interesting bands having already warmed their crowd, the members of Dark Tranquillity knew that, though an interest in their set was pretty much guaranteed, the crowd’s positive reactions and driving energy were still to be won over and they set about doing so by performing “The Science Of Noise” – the first of many high-energy compositions in the band’s interesting set.
Mikael Stanne is not only a very pleasant fellow but also a much gifted front man who gives his all every time he performs on stage. Agile and in high spirits, the forty year old singer covered every inch of the venue’s diminutive stage and together with his remaining partners offered us one of the most inspiring shows on UK soil this year.
Heads were definitely banging during the three minute onslaught “Damage Done” while the Goth tunes of the newbie “The Silence In Between” were warmly received by the band’s diverse crowd. By the time the amazing “The Lesser Faith” was performed, all sound-related problems were finally sorted and the band was truly on fire.
It literally took seconds into “The Wonders At Your Feet” for the crowd to recognise the composition, something that really pleased Stanne who was constantly thanking the band’s fans for their amazing reactions – a crowd that seemed totally unfazed by the use of pre-recorded vocal samples in “The Mundane And The Magic”.
“Character” is one of my favourite latter day Dark Tranquillity albums so I was more than pleased to have the riff-based “Through Smudged Lenses” being performed on the day. The younger members of the audience seemed to be particularly attracted to the band’s Gothier tunes and so “State Of Trust” generated an impressive sing-along competition between them and the band – a competition that spilled over to the equally impressive “Therein”.
Conscious of the venue’s early curfew, the band soldiered on, rewarding us with killer versions of “Focus Shift”, “Final Resistance” and “Endtime Hearts” , while the mid-tempo “Misery’s Crown” provided a fitting end to a very enjoyable show.
My relationship with Dark Tranquillity began back in 1995, the year I was introduced to their amazing second album “The Gallery”, and in the many instances since then that I have seen the band live, I never once remember feeling less than impressed by the quality of their performance.
The show that took place on the 9th of November 2014 easily stands out amongst the best I have seen by this impressive band and, judging by the crowd’s reaction and the various positive comments made by Mikael Stanne on the night, it will not be long before Dark Tranquillity return to London for what will undoubtedly be another glorious show!
Dark Tranquillity Set List:
- “The Science Of Noise”
- “Damage Done”
- “The Silence In Between”
- “The Lesser Faith”
- “The Wonders At Your Feet”
- “The Mundane And The Magic”
- “The Treason Wall”
- “Through Smudged Lenses”
- “State Of Trust”
- “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)”
- “Focus Shift”
- “Final Resistance”
- “Endtime Hearts”
- “Misery’s Crown”
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 22 November.
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