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2008-11-30 DE – Munich - Backstage Werk

Yes, today started amazingly. First, I had band rehearsal where I could extensively test my new multi effect board and it swept me off my feet. Well, stupid as I am, I forgot to turn down the volume controller of my amp before I switched it on – now with the effect board connected. A shrill, loud buzzing sound set my teeth on edge and I thought it would slash all of my auditory canals… Do I bore you? Sorry for that, but this short prehistory was necessary, as I decided during the KRAKÓW gig to use earplugs for the first time ever on a club gig because of that incidence after my right ear started to ache infernally… So much for the prehistory!
My buddy Raphi and I arrive at the Backstage at quarter past seven which holds the first surprise for this evening: the old new Backstage is no longer. Right at the Friedenheimer Brücke the city of Munich decided to have another suburban train station built up and once again the Backstage crew got the short end of the stick after they fell prey to the housing policy of Munich some time ago and had to move out of the cute Backstage at the Donnersberger Brücke, the none plus ultra location in Munich with a great infrastructure. Too bad! Anyway, Norwegians occupy one of the two halls on the Backstage Werksgelände this evening. Right at the merchandise stand both AUDREY HORNE front man Toschie and his band mate and ENSLAVED guitarist Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal welcome us. The guitar player tells me that they have taken a session guitarist as replacement for Thomas (Toschie introduces him as Mr. Richie Sambora during the gig… ;) ) on tour, because Thomas still has been busy with live activities of his second band Sahg.

Our relaxing conversation is interrupted suddenly (we have just been in the venue quarter of an hour) by the first beats of the rough Stoner Rock of the opener :: KRAKÓW :: And that one is definitely to my liking. The antiphon between guitarist René with his clean and bass monster Frode with his roaring vocals makes the songs entertaining, guitarist Kjartan elicits beautiful lead sounds out of his guitar and drummer Christopher (who is the spitting image of Ulver’s Garm!) underlays all that with infernal groovy beats. After barely 25 minutes the Norwegians bid farewell to the few and far between Munich crowds. The gig didn’t pass off without any problems as René tells me afterwards. The strap lock of his guitar broke and had to be fixed with cellotape… It’s self-evident that the freedom of action on stage of the guitarist is reduced for such a compromise could make the axe fall aground. And that wouldn’t hurt the guitar only, but also the heart of the guitarist… Nevertheless an entertaining introduction. Thanx for that!
Setlist: Kraków, Last, Firefly, Coronated King

After a short change-over the beautiful Love Theme of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack heralds the gig of :: AUDREY HORNE :: They couldn’t have chosen a better intro. And the Bergen based band begins their impassionate gig with The Sweet Taste Of Revenge off their debut No Hay Banda. Singer Toschie sprints like a berserk across the stage and radiates so much energy that one can’t hold off as fan and freak out accordingly. Ice Dale, the coolness in person, poses like a young god and elicits the most wicked licks and riffs of his guitar with a crystal clear sound. The tour bassist and keyboard player back Toschie vocally, which is immensely important during the vocal harmonies in two voices. The sound is mixed very well balanced and thus each instrument can be sounded out very clearly. The singer proves on stage that he is an awesome vocalist with outstanding technical skills who has a very characteristic clean voice (Confessions & Alcohol – which Toschie dedicates to his drummer Kjetil) and also can shout marvelously (Dead). Kjetil behind the drum kit is responsible for the timing proof groove and the live guitarist, whose name isn’t known to me, is a worthy representative of Thomas and cuts a fine figure even in difficult passages like the twin solo of Threshold. It’s clear to me, that AUDREY HORNE have raised the bar almost too high for the main act with this rousing performance. For my taste the band could have played the one or the other killer song more, like e.g. the fantastic Prince cover song The Cross or Get A Rope with its sad and beautiful refrain; but you can’t have it all. Singer Toschie tells me during a natter afterwards that the crowd has generally reacted very tolerant towards AUDREY HORNE so far even though they have come across more narrow-minded fans elsewhere, e.g. at the gig in Glasgow/Scotland. According to the singer, the crowd there mainly consisted of die-hard Black Metal fans to which the sound of the Norwegians meant nothing.
Setlist: The Sweet Taste Of Revenge, Last Call, Bright Lights, Dead, Confessions & Alcohol, Threshold

:: ENSLAVED :: bring out the big guns after a likewise short change-over. The stage design is impressing and exceptional. The drums aren’t positioned at the rear end and in the middle of the stage as elsewise common, but in the left corner from the crowd’s view, which gives the two guitarists and singer/bassist Grutle even more free space for romping around. Herbrand’s keyboard is built up on a podium, he thus sits enthroned above all; furthermore, the podium is adorned with an ENSLAVED banner, so it almost looks like the keyboard player would bewitch the pack from his altar (which also caught Raphi’s eye). The message of the particular song is accompanied in an impressing manner with affectionately designed videos that are projected on a screen in the background.
As expected, the Bergen based band starts the gig with the ingenious complex song Clouds, my personal favorite on Vertebrae. The main focus, of course, is on the brand new, husky album. And this is much appreciated by the fans. Next to songs of the last four albums (which are favored by the crowd), the ones who yearn for the good old days get their money’s worth with the title song of Eld (to which Grutle can’t remember the right release year, as he was drunk during the recording sessions… ;) ) and Allfadr Odinn off the EP Hordanes Land. After scarce 60 minutes the regular set is over. A bit too short for my liking, even though ENSLAVED enter the stage once again after clamoring encores on the part of the crowd to feed the pack with the desired Isa. Wicked, but, as said, a too short gig.
Nevertheless, ENSLAVED proved that they can realize the highly complex material of the last records live ingeniously and thereby release a lot of additional power which becomes the recent songs very well.
Setlist: Clouds, Ground, The Watcher, Fusion Of Sense And Earth, New Dawn, To The Coast, Eld, Allfadr Odinn // Isa, As Fire Swept Clean The Earth, Ruun

Finally, I have to summarize, that this evening was an amazing live experience with a very promising opener and a Bergen double impact, which is qualitatively equal both in the live sector and on CD. It surely isn’t due to missing popularity that the venue at most was half filled even during the gig of the main act. It’s rather up to the oversupply of concerts in the months November and December which gnaws the fans’ wallets that one well considers which concert one will attend and which one is left out… Moreover, ENSLAVED just toured Europe last year. Anyway, the one or the other fan could have saved the money they spent for infernally expensive tickets for other concerts and should have given the Norwegian triumvirate a try. They deserved a chance…

Thank you very much for your attention!


story © Haris