Katatonia + Messenger
The Union Chapel, London, UK
16th of May, 2014
Review by Anna Dumpe
Photography by Jo Moolenschot
On a rather warm afternoon in London, Metal-Rules.com UK team were privileged to head nowhere else but to The Union Chapel, which happens to be nothing else but a church. Why, you would ask?
Well, the answer is nothing but… As Katatonia roll into town with their “Unplugged & Reworked” tour, they’ve picked one of the most iconic venues with, undeniably, best acoustics in London, and, so what, that it also happens to be a church!? Church or not, but none of us had any idea what we’re about to experience and just how simply magical this experience is going to be, as Katatonia put on a remarkable show that’s going be a tough one to forget. So, read on, folks…
The opening band tonight are London’s prog rockers Messenger. Bringing extensive melodics and a dose of sentiment to The Union Chapel, they instantly appear to be the right choice to kick off such unique show.
Messenger lads come across rather excited and, most definitely, thankful for the given opportunity to hit the road with a band like Katatonia and play a show at such legendary venue, like The Union Chapel, in front of their home-town crowd and families.
Playing songs off their latest album Illusory Blues, Messenger deliver a set of bluesy, yet atmospheric and somewhat experimental prog rock topped with an incredibly powerful vocal performance by Khaled Lowe and mind-blowing song arrangements.
Delivering emotionally charged performance to put the audience just in the right mood for what’s to follow from Katatonia, Messenger prove themselves to be a band with an original approach, great musical talent and bright future ahead of them.
Katatonia are greeted on stage at The Union Chapel by a roaring crowd and start what’s about to be an unforgettable show with “In the White”.
First things first, so, ultimately, the first thing that would strike you the most is the unbelievable acoustics at The Union Chapel. No matter how many times you might have been to a concert here, each time your mind is blown away just by the sound quality alone. For anyone (and we believe there are quite a few of those here) who have seen Katatonia before, tonight is a surprise and a challenge at the same time, as tonight’s acoustic show is something that the band has never done before. Starting off nice and easy, Katatonia guys find themselves surrounded by not only keen fans, dozens of candles and spinning lights, but also with few decent sized video cameras that are here to perpetuate every note and every move of Katatonia guys to record this very special show for a live DVD to be released in few months. If there’s a good time not to fuck up, then it’s right now.
Following what appears to be a rather excellent start of the set, Katatonia continue with “Ambition” and “Teargas” where Jonas Renkse introduces some vocal effects to make their performance sound even more atmospheric and blends the sound of his electric guitar with the rest of the acoustic instruments on stage rather exceptionally. And for those who enjoy some special treatment, Katatonia throw in “Gone” – a song that they’ve never played live before “Unplugged & Reworked” tour.
Needless to say that atmosphere in the venue is magical and the band being surrounded by candles looks surreal. It is clear that we won’t be seeing anything quite like this again for a while now. .
Tonight’s show differs from any other ‘rock’ show not only because it’s happening at an actual church, but also, because the crowd (by which we mean your usual crowd of metalheads) are all sat down and, surprisingly, well behaved. That’s, most likely, due to the fact that no alcohol is allowed in the concert hall, so in stead of staring in their beers, everyone’s actually paying attention to what’s happening on stage. …not like there’s a lot going on though, as Katatonia guys are all sat down for this performance, in stead of jumping around the stage and head-banging, like they would normally do.
“The Racing Heart,” being one of Katatonia’s absolute classics is one of tonight’s highlights alongside songs, like “Undo You” and “Leathen” that were all also recorded for the acoustic Dethroned & Uncrowned acoustic album.
Due to recent departures of Katatonia drummer Daniel Liljekvist and guitarist Per ‘Sodomizer’ Eriksson, two good friends of Katatonia – JP Asplund and Bruce Soord have stepped in to do this tour and helped bring this terrific show to the UK, which, so far, seems like the ultimate ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
Saying that, Katatonia throw in yet another song that they’ve never played live before this tour, but after arranging “Day” for their acoustic performances, it sounds just perfect and ready to be presented to a much wider audience.
And just after we’ve had everything from the perfect venue with exceptional acoustics with the band putting on an absolutely mind-blowing performance, Katatonia finish things off with the very melodic “Idle Blood” and “Unfurl” underlining just how technically talented musicians they are.
Once Katatonia lads have left the stage, they are soon back up for more action. They kick off the encore with one of their all time classics “Omerta” and there is only one thing left for us to say about it… The church ain’t heard a crowd this loud in a long while. And if you thought that Katatonia are done with surprises, you were wrong, my friend..!
As Jonas Renkse swaps his guitar for a smaller banjo, the band present their acoustic version of “Evidence,” which they’ve played live only once before. It might seem like quite a mad thing to do, knowing tonight’s show is being recorded, but, without a doubt, Katatonia guys pull it off just right and ask a very special guest Silje Wergeland to join them on the stage for their very last song “The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here”. With Silje Wergeland’s pitch-perfect female vocals refreshing up the whole set, “The One You Are Looking For Is Not Here” sounds melancholic, yet puts a dramatic and rather dynamic end to an outstanding performance.
Tonight’s show is a massive “Screw you!” to those who pointed fingers and doubted the acoustic album Dethroned & Uncrowned in the first place, as the show proved that heavy metal, and any kind of music in general, not only changes the way it sounds and is presented when being stripped down to an acoustic format, but also highlights the meaning of lyrics and the message of particular songs by bringing out elements that you were not able notice before.
Katatonia are pure geniuses and we salute them.
In the White
A Darkness Coming
One Year From Now
The Racing Heart
The One You Are Looking for Is Not Here (with Silje Wergeland)