TURISAS & Crimfall
@ O2 Islington Academy
17th March 2011
Reviewer: Pete Woods
Seeing some very amusingly dressed up people prior to the show tonight, and some of them were actually going to see Turisas instead of just wearing daft hats for ‘St Patricks Day’.
London has seen some good bands passing through this week on way to invading Wales and playing ‘Hammerfest’ and there were no lack of numbers through the doors, filling up the venue to see openers ‘Crimfall’ this evening!
Having decamped from Napalm after debut album ‘As The Path Unfolds’ to the spiritual home of Finnish metal Spinefarm for brand new album ‘The Writ Of Sword’ we expected to get some songs from both discs and were not disappointed. It was quickly evident that this was an extremely well suited support band and they quickly got the crowd, who had up to now been yelling the words “Battle Metal” around the venue into the spirit of things.
After typical ‘fantasy film soundtrack intro’ they whipped things up a notch with Helena Haaparanta’s soprano vocals literally hitting the rafters as they sailed up past those of us watching from the balcony, almost taking our heads off on the way. Augmented by fiercer guttural tones from the accompanying Mikko Häkkinen and some jiggery-pokery instrumentation, fists were being flung into the air by the audience below whipped up by gung ho ‘hey hey’ chants.
New song ‘Frost Upon Their Graves’ had some proficient Vikingesque croons before the powerful operatic voice again rose over everything, the only problem being that when the lady was in action her beastly counterpoint had not a snowflake in hells chance of matching her clamour. Peppering things with a burst of fiddle you did notice how reliant the group were on backing tracks but that did not hugely impact on the fact that they were putting on a sterling show which was going down well. ‘Silver And Bones’ had an epic feel and gave Helena a solo part at start to really shine, finishing their set with a flourish it’s fair to say Crimfall picked up some new fans tonight.
Having moved up a stage from the confines of The Underworld and arriving here shortly after shows in America (and playing short six song sets), Turisas had the crowd at fever pitch before they even marched on stage like conquering heroes.
It was quickly noticeable that newest addition accordionist Netta Skog was not here; apparently due to health reasons. Perhaps this made violinist Olli Vänskä have to work all the harder tonight and it really showed as at times he was a blur of motion and gave the Warlord a serious run for his money as far as grabbing attention was concerned.
Turisas recently unveiled a new album in the form of the highly cinematic odyssey ‘Stand Up And Fight’ too and we were looking forward to catching some of this live as well as some old classics. Whatever they threw at us it was pompously over the top and dramatic and it was impossible not to get carried away with the zealous frenzy of anthems such as the glorious ‘One More.’ Everyone seemed to be singing along to the chorus of this old classic.
Nygård told us he was happy to be back in Europe for one particular reason and a very important one, American beer sucks! So we toasted him as the band went into ‘The March Of The Totally Daft’ nope that’s the Varangian Guard of course. Judging by the reaction there were not many in the house who had not already got to grips with the new album despite it having only been out a couple of weeks. In fact we were then asked to hold up hands if we had it; right that’s everyone then!
The Warlord continued to direct proceedings as though this was a Shakespearian play, his showmanship was spot on as were the songs that were quickly served up. We were taken off ‘To Holmgard And Beyond’ and by now the place was in total party mood. Violin passages came thick and fast with the music taking on cartoonish and psychedelic intensity.
Of the new songs the somewhat madcap ‘Hunting Pirates’ particularly stood out and anyone outside the venue pre-show selling plastic swords and cutlasses would have made a veritable killing. We knew one song that was going to be saved for an encore and sure enough ‘Rasputin’ was a cover that could not be missed especially due to the surprise untimely death of its innovator Bobby Farrell. It has to be said they milked the song for all it was worth but had everyone not running to the doors singing along “ra ra.”
So a merry night was had by all and anyone catching the band on their extensive trawl through Europe, who are in for a treat!