Diabulus In Musica/Amberian Dawn ~ Boston Music Room, Tuffnell Park 10/02/2017: Gig Review

Lucky Beth and I got to go to yet another metal gig for the second Friday in a row! This time we went to see another set of dual headliners: Spanish symphonic act Diabulus In Musica and Finnish symphonic power metal act Amberian Dawn. Both bands were celebrating 10 years of making music together, hence the name “The 10th Anniversary Tour”. They were supported by another Finnish metal band called Crimson Sun, whose performance in London marked their first time ever performing abroad. No pressure…

All in all it was a completely different gig from Epica the previous week. The venue — the Boston Music Room in residential Tuffnell Park — was absolutely minuscule, the crowd threadbare-thin, and the overall attitude amongst the audience and band members was much more laid-back. There were no long drawn-out waits here, no build-up of mystique. Band members set up their own equipment and did all their own soundchecks, and every single one of them came out to say hi afterwards and pose for pictures. It also meant that Beth and I couldn’t go quite so crazy as we did at the Epica gig without feeling a little self-conscious, but those are the pros and cons of big venues vs. small venues I suppose (and I would call a lack of headbanger’s neck in the morning a definite pro).

crimson-sunFirst up was Crimson Sun, an entirely inoffensive melodic metal act that sounded halfway between power and prog-metal, hailing from the city of Kotka in the very south of Finland. Fronted by singer Sini Seppälä (comparisons to ex-Nightwish singer Anette Olzon would not be too much of a stretch), the band have been going since roughly 2001, sporadically releasing EPs until the release of their debut album Towards The Light in Summer, 2015. As I have already said, their music was entirely inoffensive and very pleasant to listen to with a decidedly rocky vibe. They succeeded in warming up the crowd, which was quite an achievement because we Brits aren’t the most animated lot in such small groups; I hope they were not offended by our stiff-upper-lipped Britishness and polite applause. Also worth noting: one of the dominating impressions Beth and I were left with from this band was how magnificent bassist Jukka Jauhiainen’s hair is. I mean seriously, how on earth does this man keep his hair looking so beautifully sleek, clean and well-conditioned? I have such hair envy to the point that it actually hurts, for mine shall never look so illustrious.

Next up were the first headliners of the evening — and in truth the band I was most looking forward to see — Diabulus In Musica! I had seen Diabulus In Musica perform live once before when they supported Leaves’ Eyes back in November 2015 and it was so, so good to see them perform here in their own right as a headliner.

diabulus-in-musica

Diabulus In Musica are operatic-soprano Zuberoa Aznàrez and her partner Gorka Elso, who plays keyboards and grunts. They are usually accompanied by guitarist Alexy Kolygin, bassist Odei Ochoa  and drummer, David Carrica, however unfortunately on Friday Odei was missing due to work commitments back in his home country of Spain. Say one thing for Diabulus In Musica, it’s that they do not give up! This is the second time I’ve seen them with a band member missing (last time Alexy apparently had some Visa issues), and you’d never notice the difference.

Diabulus In Musica’s setlist was short but sweet, comprised of five songs from their latest album Dirge For The Archons, including a live debut of the beautiful ballad ‘A Speck In The Universe’. The remainder of the setlist consisted of three songs from third album, Argia, two from The Wanderer, and just one from their debut album Secrets:

gorkaIntro: Battle Of Atlantis

  1. Earthly Illusions
  2. Lies In Your Eyes
  3. Invisible
  4. Mechanical Ethos
  5. Inner Force
  6. A Speck In The Universe
  7. Ex Nihilo
  8. Ring Around Dark Fairies’ Carousel
  9. Crimson Gale
  10. Sceneries Of Hope
  11. Spoilt Vampire
Outro: Zauria

So… another case of an unbalanced setlist that I mentioned in my review of Epica last week, but I didn’t mind so much this time, because Dirge For The Archons is simply wonderful — my favourite album released last year — and I could listen to it all day long if I had to.

For a band whose music is so serious and beautifully constructed, the band members of Diabulus In Musica themselves are just so unbelievably cute. Both Gorka and David sported their own band T-shirts throughout the performance (adorable!), whilst Zuberoa seemed deeply embarrassed after accidentally messing up her lyrics during ‘A Speck In The Universe’; one of the night’s highlights. Everyone just looked so happy to be on stage, gushing about how the UK leg of the Leaves’ Eyes European tour had been their favourite (there were no empty platitudes about this, they clearly genuinely meant it), then they revelled in the glorious, carnival-like weirdness that is ‘Ring Around Dark Fairies’ Carousel’. Zuberoa’s voice was on top-notch form — the best of the night in fact — and the sound configuration didn’t drown her out this time like it did at the Leaves’ Eyes gig; I was able to hear every single exquisite note. The band finished up with an excellent rendition of the heavy ‘Spoilt Vampire’ from Argia, topping off what was all in all, an absolutely stunning performance. Hopefully Diabulus In Musica will come back to the UK soon; we would dearly love to have them!

The final act of the night was of course Amberian Dawn, fronted by the exuberant powerhouse-vocalist Capri. Band founder Tuomas Seppälä was on the keyboards, Emil Pohjalainen on guitar, Jukka Hoffren on bass and Joonas Pykälä-Aho was on the drums. On they came to hearty applause launching straight into their most famous track ‘Valkyries’ from their debut album, River of Tuoni. The setlist that followed borrowed from every single album they’ve ever released, but still remained largely dominated by their most recent release, Innuendo:

  1. capriValkyries
  2. Fame & Gloria
  3. Chamber Of Dreadful Dreams
  4. Circus Black
  5. Magic Forest
  6. Cherish My Memory
  7. The Court Of Mirror Hall
  8. Shallow Waters
  9. Knock Knock Who’s There?
  10. Rise Of The Evil
  11. Warning
  12. Kokko — Eagle Of Fire

Encore:

  1. Arctica
  2. Ladyhawk
  3. River Of Tuoni

First thing to note is that poor Capri seemed to be really struggling on the stage during the first half of the set. She had to leave the stage several times mid-song to get a drink, saying that she was overheated. In fact during ‘Shallow Waters’ — a song that spends an awful lot of time in the higher register — Beth and I exchanged a really worried look because she literally looked as though she were about to pass out. I say this with no exaggeration; it was extremely uncomfortable to watch and I really wanted them to stop the show to allow her to recover. ‘Shallow Waters’ sung by Amberian Dawn’s original singer Heidi Parviainen is really quite soft and head-voicey, but Capri’s style of singing is all from the chest and requires an awful lot of breath and shouting to reach those higher notes. Capri sang only half of the lyrics during the chorus (those she did manage to get out, she screeched), could barely keep her eyes open and seemed to be clinging to the microphone to stay upright. During the instrumental break she vanished from the set and didn’t come back, later emerging to apologise profusely and tell us that she had had to go and loosen her corset because, in her own words, “Everything went black!” It was very, very scary to see. Fortunately, loosening the corset seemed to do the trick because after this incident, Capri was fine. Corset-wearers, let this be a lesson!

Aside from this, Amberian Dawn were utterly fantastic in every sense. Despite her difficulties, Capri still proved herself to be a marvellous front-woman who positively feeds off the limelight and crowd interaction. The setlist was vibrant and full of old favourites, and the delivery was excellent. Amberian Dawn are such a technically talented bunch with every single band member oozing charisma and stage presence; each and every one of them were given a time to shine. Highlights included the super creepy, slightly sinister ‘Circus Black’, the wonderfully retro and Abba-esque ‘Cherish My Memory’ and lastly ‘Ladyhawk’, my favourite song from the new album. I must confess, at times the sound was super, super loud — much more so than the other sets — to the point that it jarred and set my teeth on edge, but I just had the best time and have been listening to Amberian Dawn’s back catalogue almost exclusively ever since the show. As I said in my review of Delain in November last year:

The absolute best time to see a band live… is when you are at [a] middling stage of appreciation, as you can sing along with all your current favourites and at the same time discover some new ones.

And so it proved with Amberian Dawn. Absolutely fantastic and, despite not being who I came to see, my favourite band of the night.

Verdict: 5/5

amberian-dawn

Thanks once again to Beth for accompanying me! I had a great two weeks of gigging with you, as always.

My next gig? EVANESCENCE. My inner teenager is so, so, so excited for this inevitable nostalgia fest. Hope to see some of you there!

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


Be sure to check out the bands mentioned above’s official websites:

http://crimsonsun.net/
http://diabulusinmusica.com/
http://amberiandawn.com/

All photos taken by me; please do not use without my permission. Thank you!

Leaves’ Eyes ~ O2 Academy, Islington 10.11.2015: Gig Review

On Tuesday night I went to see symphonic/folk metal band, Leaves’ Eyes play the O2 Academy in Islington. Liv, Alex et al were accompanied by Diabulus In Musica from Spain and supported by London-based EnkeliNation. The venue was not exactly the most packed out I’ve ever seen it, but the eclectic crowd was full of energy and all three bands fed it back three-fold.

Swords In Rock

Being a rather lonely gothic metalhead amongst my friends, and with my usual gig buddy Beth unable to attend due to teaching obligations in Birmingham, I decided to strike out on my own. I arrived at the venue within plenty of time and took my place in the queue to eat my dinner (a rather sad salmon and cucumber sandwich). Whilst waiting, I got chatting with a man who has made a hobby out of attending rock and metal gigs. He told me that since the beginning of this year, he has been to at least 120, and that Leaves’ Eyes was his fifth show in seven days. He also works full-time as a criminal investigator and functions on about three hours of sleep a night. What a dude. Sir, I salute you!

Having come straight from work I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion, so the first thing I did when I got inside was buy myself a girlie-fit T-shirt with the album artwork from King of Kings printed on it. I took my time eyeing up the rest of the merch on offer – mostly T-shirts featuring various artwork from the album with tour dates on the back – and tried to secure myself a copy of King of Kings on limited edition red vinyl. The lady on the stall said she couldn’t look after it for me while the gig was on, so I resolved to try and nab one on the way out if there were any left. I parked myself two rows from the front and stayed there, making friends and trying to stubbornly ignore an incredibly bolshy, drunk blonde woman with no sense of personal space, who kept shoving in front of me and would later spend the entirety of Leaves’ Eyes’ performance of ‘The Waking Eye’ screaming into my left ear (she wandered off eventually to molest a couple of bald gentlemen in the front row instead, thank goodness).

First up was the local support, EnkeliNation – a melodic rock/metal band founded by classically trained opera singer and Finnish expatriate Elina Siirlana. The band also includes guitarist Shadow Venger, drummer Benjamin Tarten and bassist Julia Cadau. To see a woman on this scene in any position other than the lead singer was incredibly refreshing and it certainly made them stand out in all the right ways. I am not familiar with their stuff, nor indeed have I ever even heard of them before, but they had a passionate fanbase dispersed throughout the audience. Although I could not help but feel that Elina’s vocals seemed to suffer a little bit live, as though she were running out of breath, EnkeliNation certainly put on a solid performance and I will check out their debut album, Tears of Lust, in my own time.

Next up were a band I was really looking forward to see: Spanish symphonic metal act, Diabulus in Musica, fronted by an impressively pregnant Zuberoa Aznàrez. Zuberoa’s gorgeous operatic vocals were accompanied by grunts and growls from keyboardist Gorka Elso who also seemed to be controlling the bass through the use of a computer. Odei Ochoa – usually the band’s bassist – handled the guitar work in place of a regrettably absent Alexy Kolygin. Drummer David Carrica was also in attendance. Beautifully lit by a moody red and gold light reminiscent of the colour scheme used in all their album artwork, Diabulus In Musica dominated the stage, let down only by poor sound configuration that swamped Zuberoa’s powerful vocals in the lower octaves. Whilst I own a copy of their latest album, Argia, I am still not overly familiar with Diabulus In Musica’s work and therefore wasn’t able to pick out individual songs, but it didn’t matter. Every song got the crowd cheering, head-banging and throwing up their horns. The band looked positively overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response and they promised to return to England in the future.

After a bit of a wait, the band we all came to see, Leaves’ Eyes, emerged onto the stage amidst a roar of applause. Accompanied by a Viking re-enactment group, Jomsborg Ulflag (a collaboration unique to the London leg of the UK tour), they opened with a storming rendition of ‘Halvdan the Black’. Whilst the Viking re-enactors loomed in the background banging their shields like war-drums, lead vocalist Liv Kristine subtly sauntered her way onto the stage with her soft, distinctive voice, shortly followed by growling husband Alex. He positively exploded into view, grabbing the crowd by their proverbial horns and whipping everyone up into a frenzy in no time. The O2 Islington Academy stage is not the biggest, and given the Viking presence in the background, the crowd were all very close indeed to the band during the opener. It felt very intimate and helped crank up the atmosphere, doing an excellent job of filling up the room.

The setlist, packed with a suitable blend of old and new, well-known and obscure, was as follows:

Intro: Sweven

1. Halvdan The Black
2. Sacred Vow
Liv Kristine3. Farewell Proud Men
4. The Waking Eye
5. Symphony of the Night
6. Melusine
7. Edge of Steel
8. Into Your Light
9. Galswintha
10. My Destiny
11. Swords in Rock
12. Hell To The Heavens
13. King of Kings

Encore 1:
14. Elegy

Encore 2:
15. Blazing Waters

Outro: Mot Fjerne Land

Highlights for me included: Liv hitting notes during ‘Symphony of the Night’ so staggeringly loud and so unbelievably high that it could have shattered glass and certainly made every hair on my body stand on end; heavy rocker ‘Melusine’ that I’d never actually heard before; the inclusion of one of their earliest songs ‘Into Your Light’ on the setlist; the gallivanting revelry of drinking song ‘Swords In Rock’ which got everybody jumping, dancing and singing along; and a soaring, haunting rendition of my favourite track from the latest album, ‘King of Kings’. For the final song of the night the band performed the epic naval battle song ‘Blazing Waters’ (which incidentally has grown on me immensely since my initial review of the album). The Vikings came back on stage, led by a sword-swinging Alex dressed in his King of Kings album-cover getup as Harold “Fairhair” Hårfagre, first King of Norway. It was a truly spectacular end to the night and everyone left feeling pumped and ready for battle!

As the lady on the merchandise stall had promised earlier, Liv Kristine came out afterwards to meet with fans and hand out signed leaflets promoting her solo show at the Camden Underworld on 20 December later this year. Having dashed from the main room quickly before chaos could descend, I picked up that copy of King of Kings on vinyl I had promised myself and took my place in the queue/scrum to meet Liv. I didn’t have to wait very long, despite the madness. She was so very nice and sweet and immediately signed my record without me even having to ask, handing me a leaflet to go with it. I said thank you to her for putting ‘Into Your Light’ on the setlist because it was my absolute favourite song of theirs, and she told me that yes, she could see that because I knew all the lyrics! Cue mortified embarrassment that Liv apparently noticed me losing my proverbial shit during this song (she did point, grin, nod and clap at me halfway through but I thought she was gesturing to the crowd in general… nope). I then asked if she would kindly let me take a picture, to which she said, “Of course!”, thus making me insanely happy and grateful, as evidenced by the crazed look in my eyes:

Meeting Liv Kristine

I had such a good time and would definitely see these guys play again. Thank you, Leaves’ Eyes! Until next time!

Leaves' Eyes Crowd Photo

Verdict: 4/5

My next gig will be Nightwish at their sold-out Wembley Arena show on 19 December. Perhaps I’ll see some of you there?

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


Be sure to check out all the bands mentioned above’s official websites:

http://www.leaveseyes.de/
http://diabulusinmusica.com/en/
http://www.enkelination.com/

Jomsborg Ulfag’s website:

http://ulflag.com/

To read my review of Leaves’ Eyes latest album, King of Kings, click here.

All photos included in this blog taken by me, except the photo from the stage which was taken from Leaves’ Eyes Facebook page. I am actually in that photo! Can you see me?