Eluveitie, special guests Lacuna Coil, support Infected Rain – or “A very busy November Rain day with three very different bands at once”
Concert review by Friend X and Cat Maverick
It was November, the eighth, the day, God created Rock and Roll. Sadly, he not only created Rock and Roll on this day but a lot of traffic on the motorway and streets not of London but in and around Stuttgart, the town which sites the venue of the day, “LKA-Longhorn”, a medium-sized club with a capacity of 1500 people.
Further on, the God of Thunder, Lightning and Heavy Rain had his own cunning plan to add some of his skills.
Altogether it resulted in a double as long journey to the upcoming show than expected so we met in the very last moment a 100 meters away from the venue at a drained parking lot, just to rush to the entrance and queue up with some other 100s of people in front of the tour bus of Swiss Eluveitie to enjoy some more wetness from heaven above before we could find our path thru’ a sold-out audience right at the intro of the first band this evening.
So no more November Rain anymore but the way better Infected Rain and their colorful frontwoman Lena Scissorhands.
Infected Rain – the colourful side of Metal
Cat Maverick: After the long travel of my dear FriendX, having finally met him in front of the location and being drenched and frozen to the core, [FriendX: At least it was warm in my car, maybe my only advantage] it was a great pleasure to be thawed the moment we entered the location. Lots and lots of people made it for a hot crowd. However, nothing compared to the burning energy of Infected Rain’s set on stage. [FriendX: And I can nothing but agree when we entered the steaming venue to the first chords of Infected Rain]
I wanted to see this band for many years now and had the highest expectations, but they did not disappoint at all. Visually the whole show was quite appealing. Looking at the stage, you could see that the band was basically exceeding the limits of the stage. [FriendX: Given they only had a quarter of the depth of the stage compared to the later headliner and it was squeezed with speakers, monitors and musicians.] The band was jumping around fast and rough all of the time, showing, that they are not only skilled artists and live musicians, but also extremely physically fit.
Vadim “Vidick” Ozhog on our side of the stage, impressively showed how he could use every single inch of the limited space around him by jumping and turning around aggressively whilst shredding around on his guitar – wild, fast and body-shakingly hard. Not to forget, that there were a lot of moments we stood in the crowd just hoping, he would not jump into one of the speakers or technical constructions on the stage.
Vocalist and frontwoman Lena was showcased at the center of the band’s performance with her glowing red hair matching the heat in the LKA Longhorn. She delivered a diverse vocal style consisting of rough screams as well as melodic singing passages.
Together with the many different musical styles in the overall rough sound profile, the Moldavian metalcore group showed that they more than mastered their craft and can stick out with a unique performance and musical mixture from a bunch of similarly built-up bands seemingly sounding all the same. This made the first band of the evening quite refreshing for the musical taste buds, visually compelling and – more than anything – diverting.
[FriendX: And yes, some people might compare them with Ukrainian Jinjer and singer Tatiana, but honestly, that does not do justice to both bands. Take them as they are and you will enjoy both quite a lot, compare them and you will start thinking about it a touch too much. Anyway, great show as I personally hoped for and their already 45 minutes slot gave even more for a full set of the next band, my favorite Italians…]
Following this, we curiously anticipated next-up Italian Lacuna Coil. In addition, with a dark, atmospheric intro and blood-red stage design, they got our spirits even higher. They come on stage now. The new so far unknown drummer, guitarist Diego, bass player Marco and finally the two vocalists Cristina and Andrea. Oh, this is so exciting. Just mere seconds from the start.
Lacuna Coil – or the deep dark side of Italian metal music
FriendX: So we silently counted 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, ZERO, crash boom bang! Nothing happened….
Simply nothing instead of a bombastic, dark starter to boost the show, what happened?
Again, we had no gods, no masters on our side, technical issues, no power on the speakers.
Well, Cristina and Andrea solved the irritations with a most charming smile and their typical humor we love the band for. Nevertheless a few moments later, after pressing some kind of reset-button the show started with “Our Truth”, followed by a well-chosen balance between the new songs of “Black Anima” – their just released new album – and well-known songs, amongst them, of course, “Enjoy The Silence” – imagine THIS would have been the opener – and “Nothing Stands In Our Way”, their unofficial band anthem.
Their new show concept was much, really much, much darker than the one of their previous masterpiece “Delirium” and I must confess, YES, it fitted like a glove. The whole sound of the band itself is deeper and darker which aligns perfectly with Cristina’s contralto though she also catches the very high notes without a problem. Given that Marco plays a 5string bass and Diego plays a 7string guitar for a while now, it really made sense. It is always a pleasure to watch the interaction between Andrea and Cristina as singers and as actors, which is near to theatre, as well as the little jokes Marco and Diego like to make, especially when the audience is willing to fear nothing.
Sadly after some 53 minutes, it was time to say goodbye to Lacuna Coil and wait for the third band of the evening but failed, the audience didn’t even let them leave the stage after the usual pic of the gig so their encore was a glorious “Blood, Sweat and Tears” which should have been the opener but had to be skipped due to the described technical issues.
It was a good show but a short show. Wait, weren’t they announced as a sort of double headliner for this tour, together with Eluveitie? Seems no, what we got was an essential show which kept us hungry for some more so we were left with the hope for an own tour in 2020 to enjoy a full set. Nevertheless, the curtains fell down and the waiting time for the third band of the evening would begin, Swiss Eluveitie and the first thought in mind was, will the stage be big enough for somewhat 8-10 musicians? The next thought was about the sound, both support acts and their sound engineers kept us save. But now I am giving the pen back to Cat Maverick.
Eluveitie – or the other side of Swiss accuracy
Cat Maverick: Years ago, Swiss Metal legends Eluveitie build me a personal bridge from Medieval Rock to Pagan and Folk Metal and thereby became my first Metal band of so many to come. Since then, I love their music and use every possibility to see them live. And like on many past occasions, I am nervously looking forward to them entering the stage once again.
Drums and flutes invite to listen to the stories to be told. As the dark curtains are illuminated by the “Ategnatos” emblem, an atmosphere of anticipation and excitement arises in the already piping hot location. Steam floods into the room from behind the huge blindfold and with the gradually brightening light, schemes of all kinds of creatures become visible. Horns of devils, dresses of otherworldly women and dark cloaks allow a first glimpse into the world of legends and fairytales, we are about to enter. And as the creatures vanish, the curtains fall and reveal nine (!) members of Eluveitie. [FriendX: I had preferred to see all those creatures of the night without the curtain, asking myself why the band made such an effort for something, most people could not see.]
Eluveitie deliver a refined and sophisticated mixture of ancient Celtic and quite modern elements. One reason – and maybe even the strongest – being, that frontman and vocalist Christian “Chrigel” Glanzmann is a passionate researcher of Celtic culture. This knowledge combined with instruments like flutes, a mandola, uillean and bag pipes, a harp or a hurdy-gurdy gives the most authentic and enjoyable folk sound. Mix in some modern elements with drums, guitars and several vocal styles and you have a unique Folk metal sound matching the various tales told in the lyrics.
Besides Chrigel with his growls and occasional singing, there is another impressive vocalist in the band. Especially showcased with an emotional and breathtaking solo performance of “Artio”, Fabienne Erni is the perfect counterpart to her rather rough sounding band colleague. Don’t be fooled though, she can scream awfully good as well, best heard in the bridge of “Quoth the Raven”.
There was one huge bummer, especially for a long-time fan, regarding Eluveities’ performance though, which is the technical issues they had. For quite some years now, every show of them seems to have more or less technical issues, from an unbalanced sound between the songs, over noise up till crackling speakers. [FriendX: At festivals, it already is a running gag to talk about the expected usual sound problems. What if out of the sudden, their sound would be perfect? Who’s to blame then?]
As I am neither a sound engineer nor a professional stage musician, my knowledge on the topic is quite limited. Still, the issue seems to be fixable for other bands with equally ambitious setups as for example German bands Haggard or In Extremo, even if it might not be trivial to solve it. What I can definitely say though, is, that I’ve only rarely seen this band in album quality at a live performance, which, if you pay close attention to all of the members playing, is not in any way thanks to missing musical skills, which all of them definitely possess.
It is a bummer though, no dealbreaker. The performance and overall atmosphere are still fantastic and indicate an enormous skill level in regards to both, the show as well as the music. [FriendX: There I sadly must disagree, because for me it was the dealbreaker, but I am not a die-hard fan who can halfway ignore it due to his or her passion for the band itself. It was frustrating to notice that the support band and special guests of this tour had the better sound, this being said, another friend of mine watched them a few days later and his impression was exactly the same.]
Like every Eluveitie concert, they ended the show with “Inis Mona”, a tale that always feels like coming home. Which kind of matches the mood of the band this evening, who multiple times stated, that coming home after a long time on a world tour, is a fantastic feeling. It also became quite clear, that back home is less about where you are, but about whom you play for. And here they once again played for fans of their original community. Fans, that accompanied them for decades now, especially in Switzerland and Germany. They visibly had fun and felt welcomed and appreciated making this a revitalizing and relaxing experience for the people both before but also on the stage.
After some festival shows, this is the first full set tour show of the new line-up I have seen after the departure of some members. As to say it with the name of the first single from 2019s Ategnatos album, they did a full “Rebirth” and it suites them. Make no mistake, the band changed in the overall aura they emit, but they are still as good as ever, having recovered from the huge change and considering everything they learned in the long time between the current album Ategnatos and the previous non-acoustic album “Origin” in 2014. FriendX: It would be unfair to the newer members to talk about those who left. It is clear, the band has changed. Some fans like the former line-up, some prefer the new one. What remains is a still very skilled not so little Swiss band with a long story of sound problems, which by the way already existed with the previous line-up.]
Something to worry about because it is a very annoying attitude
Cat Maverick: A lot of people staring on their phones, chatting, skyping (!), live-streaming or just plain-old video-taping huge-parts of the performance, unfortunately missing out on a lot of the magic of this energizing and revitalizing live-experience with the three bands. But even more importantly, it was disrespectful to all the people standing further behind as well as the artist on stage, who were seeking a close, personal contact to the crowd in front of them. That was the only real bummer of the otherwise fantastic evening.
Friend X: A pros pos “close, personal contact to the crowd”, it was only Lena Scissorhands herself who was the only one of all three bands who joined their fans at the merch tables, made photos – yes, she took the smartphones and clicked – signed merch and had a chat with everybody who came over to say hello. Seems she enjoyed it as well as the bath in the crowd during their last song – very fan affin of course and certainly more than the average concert visitor can expect though people are very demanding and rude sometimes. Did someone already think about treating your baker or cashier in the supermarket the same way? Even if our artists are public people, give them their space and privacy – the same privacy that you expect for yourself.