After releasing their latest studio album “Halo” already in spring, Amorphis have been on co-headlining tour with Eluveitie supported by their special guests Dark Tranquillity and Nailed To Obscurity. The package delivered an energetic and passionate show night at Huxley’s Neue Welt in Berlin lately.
Early bird ice-breakers – Nailed To Obscurity
The show night began actually almost still in the late afternoon. Taking into account too, it is a Tuesday, the crowd welcoming Nailed To Obscurity on stage is quite impressive. At 18:00h sharp the guys from Ostfriesland (East Frisia) – – enter stage to present a quite doomy selection of their songs. Sound and light support the atmosphere of their gloomy soundscapes.
Nailed To Obscurity’s job at hand is to break the ice, get the masses into concert-mode when their mind might still be lingering in the day job – all but a simple task. But they make it! Better than ever I am tempted to say. They have become a regular at sharing stage with Amorphis and honestly I have never seen them as good as tonight. I am also surprised to catch up some clean vocals, performed greatly and stylistically adding perfectly to their atmosphere.
Their set comprises songs from their two latest albums, “King Delusion” (2017) and “Black Frost” (2022). As each track is quite long it takes only five songs to fill their approximately 35-minutes slot.
A Moment With Dark Tranquillity – Too Short!
The crowd has perhaps doubled its numbers as the grandmasters of Gothenburg Death Metal hit the stage at 19:00h. “Identical To None” from the latest album “Moment” (2020) is the perfect track to open their show. This song leaves no one’s mind anywhere but right here. The crowd goes ecstatic! “It’s a good metal day in Berlin”, vocalist Mikael Stanne comments the atmosphere! Dark Tranquillity prove once more how supportive a video installation can be whilst too often such things diverge from the actual act. But their performance has never been short of activity on stage – not in more than 30 years of band history and certainly not tonight! They rule and no video can distract from that. Proficient performance as here expands the virtual space for on-off stage interaction and the deeper experience of music. The crowd dives into the groove as the musicians do. Dark Tranquillity’s set includes such older gems like “Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)” from 2007 or “Cathode Ray Sunshine” from 2002. Those tracks, partially not played on stage since 2005, reveal the ‘die-hard DT’ fans among us tonight. While the more recent tracks such as “Atoma” or “Phantom Days” are obviously known by heart by each and everyone here, the cheers might be slightly less enthusiastic with those older pieces.
It doesn’t make it any less real (Phantom Days)
… names the drama: the gig will come to an end soon, too soon really. As the Swedes threaten to end their slot the crowd replies in protest. Luckily, there is one more song “Misery Crown” to come. Anyway 45 minutes cannot be enough for the crowd as the party has just begun. Unfortunately, a tour of four bands comes with a very tight schedule that leaves no option for a spontaneous encore however much the audience demands it.
Eluveitie – Appreciative Anthill
An adequate number of metal fans has gathered as the first headliner enters stage. Nevertheless a line up as exclusive as this here would have pulled a substantially larger crowd in previous years, I am certain.
After the first song, a heart-warming welcome opens Chrigel Glanzmann his moderation:
Ihr alle seid der Grund, warum wir alle heute Abend hier sind [„You all are the reason why we all are here tonight”]
The Swiss folk metallers tour with a nine-piece line-up including instruments rarely seen on metal stages such as violin, harp, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy and naturally the flutes, two of them actually. I frankly admit that this bunch on stage at times reminds me of an anthill. Regardless the number of musicians on stage Chrigel is in the center of everything and the main connection to the crowd. As there will a focus on Eluveitie and their show in our report about their tour stop in Wiesbaden, I take my sole opportunity tonight to grab at least a quick bite somewhere and leave the venue for a moment to find some proper food and beverage.
On my way out I cannot help to notice that the merch of the support bands is positioned only in the hallway downstairs. Although this near the doors, it definitely is too remote to attract any customer apart from arrival and departure. It illustrates the hierarchy on tour and even more invites to a short ‘what if?’ as the headliners have their merch in the main hall next to one of the bar desks.
What if …
What if there had been no pandemic? In late 2019, Amorphis and Dark Tranquillity were more or less equally positioned bands in terms economical terms. They had made perfect co-headliners or could have toured successfully independent of each other.
The course of events in early 2020 changed this situation drastically. Dark Tranquillity released their latest album “Moment” in 2020 and planned to promote it touring Europe and North America immediately post release. With two well booked festival seasons (2020 and 2021) a reasonable income had secured the production of the next album and paid the musicians’ life. None of that happened. Instead a nerve-wracking period of raising and shattering hopes, planning, postponing and cancelling tours came with huge expenses but no income.
At the same time in early 2020, Amorphis had just returned from touring and begun to produce “Halo”. Playing live was planned anyway not before 2021 apart from the summer festival season, of course. Although there were no expenses of tours that never happened their economical situation changed massively forcing some of them back into regular day jobs. And yet, lucky them, this one year alteration in the album-production-touring cycle left them in a position to co-headline a tour when Dark Tranquillity need to take the special guest/support position.
I walk a few paces back to the kebab take-away I passed on my way to the venue because then I heard an Amorphis song being played inside. Another one is playing right now. What a perfect match! Amorphis without Kebab is practically impossible – at least ever since they have walked on the path of progressive metal. Go check their interviews: When they speak of kebab it usually means oriental elements in their music.
The owner of the take-away smiles at me but denies as I ask him if the choice of music was coincidental. Tomorrow he would play techno from the act playing then at Huxeley’s. They always do and the bands or at least the crews of the bands playing at Huxeley’s have become frequent guests at theirs, he tells me.
Back at the venue my bite is yet not finished. So I check at the nightliners actually hoping to catch a brief feedback from any of the musicians about the tour so far. But instead of them the busses are occupied by the helping hands cleaning the temporary ‘mobile homes’. Somehow the person with vacuum cleaner I see in the tour bus reminds me of Freddy Mercury in Queen’s video to “I want to Break Free” (1984). Time. Yes, time to push away sweet memories and return inside just on time to hear Chrigel announce their final song. I check my watch, 45 minutes only I think surprised. But a couple of minutes later Eluveitie return to play a three songs comprising encore.
Amorphis – The Immortal Spirit of the Thousand Lakes
Approximately at 21:45h the Finns of Amorphis enter stage after the intro of “Northwards” from their recent album “Halo”. During the set up already, I noticed the shiny, huge red hiding Jan Rechberger nearly completely. I wonder if it is a new or a loner instrument. Three different kits have been played tonight. Setting up and packing this instrument is one of the key factors determining the change-over times which naturally is a substantial share of the schedule when four bands tour together. Setting up Jan’s kit tonight has taken quite long I noticed a little surprised as he mentioned in our interview some years back he would and could play on pretty much any kit if this was only roughly positioned to his routines. Tonight’s set up did not appear like ‘just roughly’ but very precisely to match his preferred positions. Another detail is new. Amorphis have toured with the same team of helping hands for many years but I don’t recall this drum tech and I would as she is the first female drum tech I see working on a metal stage!
The crowd loves the new songs apparently and screams to the tops of their lungs “Death of a King” as Tommy Joutsen demands! If you have experienced him on previous tours you will notice his development. His show has always been energetic and emotional but moderations…? Joutsen often avoided them in his early years with Amorphis. He is actually a rather shy person obviously overcoming this gradually so he can easier address the audience in between the songs.
However much the songs of the recent albums are appreciated by the crowd as soon as an intro gives away an Amorphis classic from the legendary “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” album, the crowd goes ecstatic. These tracks have never grown old in 28 years since their release. The first tonight is “Into Hiding” to which there is a funny tale told in the Amorphis biography by Markus Laakso. It was only recently released in English, too. Check it out. Really, this book is worth reading (on sale at Svart Records)!
Rhythm guitarist Tomi Koivusaari chips in some of his infernal growls triggering more old-times memories. Further backing vocals are delivered by bass player Olli-Pekka Laine with whom I had the opportunity to take an interview before show (to be published soon), for example in “Silver Bride”.
Legendary Tales Retold
Back to the ‘Tales’ legends. One reason why those tracks have never lost their attraction is that Amorphis have never been shy to come up with new arrangements of their songs. Naturally it is easier to notice this in case of older tracks. Tonight’s version of “Black Winter Day” comes with very ‘1990’s’ synthesiser style that still differs remarkably form the original album version, even has an air of self-irony. This track and the following “My Kantele” might be the songs Amorphis performed most often performed ever. I can hardly recall a tour or even a festival gig without at least one them but rather both. “My Kantele” again comes in an arrangement quite close to the original in the first half while the outro turns softer and closer to one of the acoustic versions.
The connection with audience is brilliant tonight. I notice Tomi Koivusaari throwing a pic to a particular face in the crowd. It happens a couple of times tonight as it mostly did when I have attended their shows. From the outside it might look as if the guys are all in their music when really they interact with the people in front of them. Not with the mass but individuals. Club stages with narrow or no pits have always been the natural habitat to me.
Before the show ends, Tommy Joutsen takes his opportunity to thank all performing bands and naturally the crowd tonight. Then the traditional “House of Sleep” sing-along ends the long show night.
A good metal day in Berlin
More than obviously the musicians are happy to back on stage again as is their audience tonight. Unfortunately – and I cannot help discussing it here – there are dark tidings. Many tours in 2022 and 2023 have again been cancelled due to a poor pre-sales. As Chrigel said: we are the only reason why they can play! I am well aware how much 50 Euros for a concert ticket burden our budget these days. And certainly no musician touring is happy to raise the merch prices. Then again it is what makes their living, pays their rents and families. They have to face the same inflation draining their pockets as we do. But they offer us one of the very few opportunities to escape the distressing real world for a couple of hours. Perhaps we are in need more than ever!
The package touring here is an amazing package that works unexpectedly well. The support bands pull a decent crowd as they have left their marks on our metal hearts for years if not decades. Stylistically the program is diverse but not opposing. Both headliners share apparently their fan-base.
Thank you Nailed To Obscurity, Dark Tranquillity, Eluveitie and Amorphis for a wonderful concert experience and a good metal day in Berlin.
On the Dark Waters
Death of a King
Seven Roads Come Together
Black Winter Day
House of Sleep
Identical to None
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)
What Only You Know
Nothing to No One
Cathode Ray Sunshine
Hours Passed in Exile
Exile of the Gods
Epona (Metal version)
A Rose for Epona
De Ruef vo de Bärge
Nailed To Obscurity
Visit the bands online, check out upcoming shows, find their merch & music to support them:
Amorphis * Eluveitie * Dark Tranquillity * Nailed To Obscurity
Read also our interview with Amorphis’ Olli-Pekka Laine (bass) taken tonight (here).
Thank you Friend X for your support on this piece. All photos taken at Huxeley’s Neue Welt by Muumi-Katja. Check out my fully gallery on Flickr