supported by Omnium Gatherum
Barfly Camden, London
9th February 2008
All live pics and review by HannTu
The end of a great if tiring week for metal in London, with Primordial, Obituary, Municipal Waste and Behemoth already having paid a visit to the Big Smoke, it’s now Dark Tranquillity’s turn. The very last date of the Great British Fiction Tour, the Swedes were supposed to have been supported by English thrashers Evile and Finnish melodic death band Omnium Gatherum, but Evile cancelled. There’s no mention even of the cancellation itself on the band’s website, let alone the reason, and people either found out from Omnium Gatherum’s website, or at the gig itself. Highly discourteous. Perhaps Evile were too over the moon to be touring with Megadeth later this month.
I missed Omnium Gatherum’s set due to quite an unusual reason. The Barfly is in Camden, a vibrant part of London that many tourists don’t know about. It’s home to a lot of markets, pubs, eateries and clubs; it’s also a remarkable place to seek out all the subcultures you can think of: goths, punks, emos, gays, rastas, rappers and of course, metalheads. The legendary Underworld, venue of more heavy metal gigs than I can remember, is also right in the heart of Camden. It’s a wonderful refuge from the rest of ‘safe’ mainstream corporate London.
On the night of the Dark Tranquillity gig, a massive fire razed throughout Camden Market, one of the biggest markets in the area. No one knows how it started, but flames were leaping 30 feet in the air. I talked to some people after the gig ended who had lost their flats in the fire, it was very sad although luckily no one was hurt. Anyway the area was cordoned off and I couldn’t get to the venue.
When I reached the Barfly after quite a detour, I only caught the tail end of Omnium Gatherum’s set, which is a pity as I had heard some good things about them.
I’d never been to the Barfly before. It’s a tiny square venue above a dingy bare pub. The interior of the venue is dingy and bare as well, and on that night, crowded and sweaty. There was no photo pit, and to the side there was a tiny equipment room that was floor-to-ceiling with stacks of guitars, kit and effects pedals. The sound, as far as I could tell from the end of the Omnium Gatherum set, was atrocious: overly loud but muddy and buzzy. It reminded me of the venues you see in Metallica or Aerosmith documentaries, when they were starting out as pub bands. Quite the proverbial shithole. But the less-than-ideal circumstances made for a feverish atmosphere; the closeness of everything lent intimacy to the performance, and broke the invisible wall between musician and fan, which is so often the case in larger, more well-equipped venues.
Anxious to get a good vantage point, I positioned myself round to the front right side (right in front of the speakers, as it happened), and I was stuck there throughout. No where to move. There was only one poor roadie, who as far as I gathered, was drum tech, guitar tech, bass tech, mic tech, soundchecker, and also in charge of supplying the band regularly with bottles of Heineken.
The band had to squeeze itself through the crowd to get to the stage, so at the front we could pretty much tell it was going to start soon from the cheers at the back as the band made their way through. If Dark Tranquillity were disappointed at playing such a tiny venue, they showed absolutely no sign of it. There was no space on stage to do anything but headbang and windmill with huge grins on their faces, which they did, throughout the night. The synth driven intro to “Terminus” kicked off the evening, and no turning back.
Vocalist Mikael Stanne sounds harsher than on the records, if possible, which is great to see from such a mild looking guy! The entire band looked absolutely excited and happy to be there, no question about that. Mikael said “We’re not gonna do any of that encore bullshit, we’re just gonna play and play until you fucking get sick of us. OKAY??” One has the feeling that they would’ve been playing all night then.
"Here, have MY pick Michael, just keep playing!"
Dark Tranquillity are touring in support of their latest album, FICTION. If you hated that album, you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed last night very much. If you loved it, like I did (and by the looks of it, the entire crowd yesterday as well), then you would’ve been one happy bunny. Five of the 10 tracks from FICTION were played yesterday, which had the crowd singing along, word for word. It wasn’t so long ago that I was going to my first gig and being absolutely amazed by the metal crowd’s involvement. Tonight was just a little refresher. To see everyone headbanging, mouthing the words and air-drumming along to the songs is just incredible to watch.
The musicianship was top notch as you’d expect. The band members constantly wandered about during songs, especially Mikael, who was everywhere. He together with bassist Michael Nicklasson were the most extrovert, Michael even having a quick chat to someone in the front row while playing in the middle of the song! Eye contact and a smile for everyone in the front row is the way to endear yourself to the crowd.
I’m not going to go through all the songs, because frankly the band was flawless musically. The sound was less than ideal admittedly, but that’s no fault of the band. I would honestly love to see them at a bigger venue just to hear the songs being given the treatment they deserve. However, when a band like Dark Tranquillity plays the last date of the tour as if it were their first, there’s no amount of shitty sound that can get in the way of a good, ass-kicking, headbanging, raging performance.
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)
The Lesser Faith
The Treason Wall
The Wonders At Your Feet
Lost To Apathy
Inside the Particle Storm
The Endless Feed
Punish My Heaven
Blind At Heart
The New Build