Turisas

support Heidra
author AP date 02/04/08 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

It's not often that one gets to see a band twice on one tour, but Turisas' show in Southampton a few weeks back left me impressed enough to want to experience the spectacle again, this time in The Rock in Copenhagen. Now, at this point I'd like to express to said venue my disappointment in their stage lighting which seems to consist entirely of the colors white, yellow and red and is for reasons beyond my comprehension all placed behind the performer. Sound like hell for gig photography yet? But as if that isn't enough, they are also dim. I apologize for the poor quality of photos, but there was nothing I could do.

Heidra

On this final leg of Turisas' mainland dates, the band's touring buddies Alestorm and Norther had abandoned the warriors and The Rock had been forced to compensate for the loss with an up and coming Danish group, Heidra. Unfortunately for Heidra, their folk-inspired doom metal has little capacity to warm up for an energetic, groovy act like Turisas and drones through a handful of long, agonizingly slow epics to an unenthusiastic crowd. Bathed in red, the band's vocalist does his best to deliver a passionate performance and has plenty of charisma, but as I've said before, one person cannot redeem a poor performance. And it certainly doesn't help that the sound is muddy and focused on the rhythm section. As the set nears its end, I've barely noticed the song changes and am growing increasingly impatient for Heidra to step off stage and let the raiders from the north put on a party instead of this painful wailing.

3

Turisas

And indeed, Turisas is metal's answer to Flogging Molly - a party band and a crowd pleaser, a band that gets nearly everything right on stage. As the curtains are drawn open, we're facing the silhouettes of guitarist Jussi Wickström and bassist Hannes Horma, both caught in tableau amidst a lingering folk tune. Suddenly Olli Vänskä, the band's famed violinist runs on stage and assumes his usual character, the little fiddler who twists and turns in strange, abrupt movements as he plays through the epic intro of "The Dnieper Rapids". Mathias "Warlord" Nygård follows suite shortly, raising both arms, his hands clenched in fists, staring somewhere high above with amusing severity. As his powerful vocal begins pouring out, that flu that's been straining his voice all day is nowhere to be heard. It still carries the raw power of the album with remarkable clarity and, as quickly becomes clear to me, volume.

Mathias alternates between English and Swedish in addressing the crowd, greeting and welcoming us to a maniacal response. The battle clad fellows then launch into the epic "To Holmgard And Beyond", which sees Netta Skog join in on stage with her accordion. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the combination of guitar, violin and accordion couldn't sound more right to such songs and especially Olli and Netta's enthusiasm in showcasing their talent with these instruments doesn't go unnoticed. The pit behind me has been growing consistently and is now operating at full capacity, swords, viking hats and fans wearing red and black face paint flying all over the place. Next up is "A Portage To The Unknown", another one of the band's epics, followed by a short speech on the excellence of Danish beer and not surprisingly "One More". Fans detach viking horns from their hats and invite Mathias to pour his drink into them whilst chanting to his drinking song. The atmosphere parallels that of the show in Southampton as The Rock transforms from metal gig to huge party and is only hampered by the poor stage lighting. Quite appropriately Olli and Netta then progress into a Finnish humppa duel, which flows into "In The Court Of Jarisleif" and has the crowd clapping and dancing like at some medieval market place.

The lights dim and a single spotlight lands on Olli, who surveys the crowd regarding how many guitarists and violinists are present today. Much to his surprise, a single hand goes up for the latter, inspiring him to yell "Do you like guitar solos?" Expectedly a sea of downward pointing thumbs and whistling ensues, and Olli continues: "Do you like violin solos?" Opposite effect. "Well then, I say fuck the guitar solo. Fuck Herman Li and all that stuff!" We are then treated to a breathtakingly beautiful violin solo that flows into "The Messenger". It's then time for another epic, "Milkagard Overture", halfway through which Mathias takes time off to introduce each band member individually whilst his band jams some kind of tavern song. When the song ends, the band exits stage to get a breather before the anticipated encore. Netta reappears on stage to stir up the crowd before launching into the intro of "Rasputin". Now it's time for the songs we've all been waiting for. The rest of the band soon joins her to unleash Turisas' candidate for disco hit of the year upon an ecstatic audience. Afterwards Olli and Netta fill up the time with another duel, this time "Sahti-Waari" before Mathias announces that today they want to play a ballad for the ladies to wrap up the show. Olli begins to play a slow, but extremely familiar tune on his violin and as it speeds up to "Battle Metal", the crowd explodes.

Though today's gig doesn't quite live up to the grandeur of the Southampton show thanks to a lesser crowd and worse venue, it's pretty spectacular nonetheless. It says something that TL, who before the show has expressed his skepticism regarding how good a band that calls itself battle metal can be, praises the show afterwards, comparing it to Flogging Molly, just more metal. I'll say it again, go see this band when you have the opportunity.

Setlist:

  • 01. The Dnieper Rapids
  • 02. To Holmgard And Beyond
  • 03. A Portage To The Unknown
  • 04. One More
  • 05. In The Court Of Jarisleif
  • 06. The Messenger
  • 07. Miklagard Overture

--Encore--

  • 08. Rasputin
  • 09. Sahti-Waari
  • 10. Battle Metal

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