The Nordic Principle Tour 2017
Skálmöld – support act
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
Live pictures and review by: Anders Sandvall
Epica is currently out on the tour trail, having toured together with Powerwolf in January/February and kicking off the Scandinavian leg of the tour in Finland at the end of February. The tour ended in Malmo, Sweden on a Sunday with the show taking place at the best club in town, Kulturbolaget. In September 2016 the band released their latest album, THE HOLOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLE, from which two singles have been released so far (“Universal Death Squad” and “Edge of the Blade”). The album is the band’s seventh so far and follows up 2014’s THE QUANTUM ENIGMA. The club holds about 850 people and even though Epica’s got a lot of fans in Sweden, there were tickets left for the show. Since I had to wait for a friend to turn up I wasn’t the first one in, but the line wasn’t long so we still got in without having to wait outside for long. Even though the club feels like my second home, it was the first time this year I attended a show there.
There was already a drum set and mic stand on stage and soon it was time for the support act to kick off the night. People had entered the club but it wasn’t yet packed with people. It was a few minutes past 8 when the interim music ended, the stage lit up, and it was time to begin the evening.
The stage was instantly pretty crowded as six people stood on stage at the same time. The band was greeted with applause and fired off the first two songs straight away. The audience shouted along at the singer’s command, after which he thanked the fans for the support. The band comes from Iceland and it was their first time in Sweden. I’ve never heard the band before and in my opinion their music sounded like Finnish folk metal act Turisas and other bands in the same genre. Something that was pretty cool was that the singer sang in Icelandic. The band’s keyboard sounded like an accordion which made it all a bit confusing; I have to say I don’t really appreciate this kind of music too much. There wasn’t much banter between songs but the singer, guitarist, and bass player worked hard with getting the crowd in the right mood. Even though I got tired of the music after the first few songs, the crowd in the front of the stage liked it and shouted for more. The band didn’t care about the lack of people in the club and performed as if it was sold out; I give them credit for their effort. The last song for the night was taken from the band’s debut album and it ended the show after 45 minutes of folk metal music.
To be honest, the band and their music didn’t do much for me at all. However, I hadn’t heard them before but I doubt that even if I had it wouldn’t have changed my opinion. The lights were really bad but luckily the sound system was better and the band gets credit for giving an energetic performance even though there weren’t many people watching them.
The crew began the work to prepare the stage for Epica, putting the drum set to the right on top of a long and narrow podium. On the left the crew erected the keyboard setting. At the front of each side of the stage a steel box was placed for the members to stand on if they wanted, each with a mic stand in front. In the middle, a custom made mic stand looking like an “S” was set up, the change of gear went quickly and after about 20 minutes was it time for Epica to enter Malmo’s stage.
The drummer came out and started to play and soon the rest of the band joined him to the welcoming shouts of the fans. The intro “Eidola” was followed by “Edge fo the Blade”, one of the singles from the new album. There was no doubt Epica was highly anticipated because the fans continued to scream and sing along for nearly the whole night. “A Phantasmic Parade” followed in which singer Simone Simons had the fans singing the chorus. The line-up in the band is:
Simone Simons – lead vocals
Mark Jensen – guitar, vocals
Coen Janssen – keyboard
Isaac Delahaye – lead guitar
Arien Van Weesenbeek – drums
Rob Van Der Loo – bass
Simons and Jensen stood on the left of the stage while Delahaye manned the right, Van Der Loo stood on the podium in the middle between the drummer and keyboard player. Simons moved across the entire stage and used all the space on stage to connect with the fans. She thanked the audience saying it was fun to be in Malmo. Next the band played an older tune taken from their first album, “Sensorium”. Simons’ lead vocals paired with the growling of Jensen perfectly and added strength to the shared songs. “The Cosmic Algorithm” followed as Janssen showed it was possible to turn his keyboard around which made him able to stand with his back to the audience while playing. Simons tucked away her mic stand while holding the microphone in her hand while she walked towards the fans. She said that “freedom of speech is more important today than ever with all the bad things going on in the world. We can’t lose what’s important in life”, she said as the band fired off “Martyr of the Free World”. The song woke up the crowd and everyone sang along. Keyboard player Janssen took on a keytar and walked out to join the rest of the band at the front. Simons had the fans sing along in the chorus and shout at her command. “The Obsessive Devotion” followed, and it was obvious that the lights worked much better for Epica than they did during the support act.
Jensen took the mic saying “the next song has a lot more energy and I want to see everyone bang their heads and jump up and down. Are you ready for “Ascension – Dream State Armageddon”?” Now it was Jensen’s turn to take on the lead vocals. He had the audience screaming “hey hey hey”. All of the members in the band seemed to be having a really good time on stage; there were no signs of anyone being tired, the band felt fresh and energetic and gave their all. After the song ended, Simons left the stage and Janssen jumped down to join the other members with his keytar. Simons returned and it was time for “Dancing in a Hurricane”. The band completed each other and it felt like everyone had fun together. Simons’ voice was perfect; she is a great front woman that knows how to handle a crowd.
“Unchain Utopia” was the next song up and it felt like it was one of the songs the fans had been waiting to hear. It ended with an extra long outro, leading into Simons thanking the fans for the perfect way of ending the tour. She wanted the club to go dark and as all the lights turned black she urged the fans to light up the club with their phones. Everyone but Simons went off the stage as she said “while we were having our phones up we should call our Moms because she would probably like the next song” which was “Cry For The Moon”. Simons and Janssen did the first part of the song together and the rest of the band joined in during the second verse. That really cool version of the song ended the first 60 minutes of the show. Maybe a little short but then again we had the encores left to hear.
The fans all shouted for encores which they got when the members returned. Janssen wanted us to scream for the band, Delahaye said “Hi” in Swedish, and then Janssen said “Tack så mycket (thank you)” in Swedish. He said the band had learned a little Swedish just in order to talk to the fans this night. “Hi, how you’re doing, I’m a guitarist”, he continued in Swedish and laughed. Simons said it was now time to get serious but not dead serious because it was their sound technician Paul’s birthday and they wanted everyone to shout for him. The fans shouted “Paul” and clapped their hands. Simons thanked the fans for coming and wanted the crowd to clap their hands for each and everyone in the band’s crew who she mentioned by name.
“Sancta Terra” was the first encore; it was fun to hear an older song because the night had mostly consisted of more current tunes. The band sang along and jumped up and down throughout the song as Delahaye threw a lead guitar solo. In the last song for the night Jensen wanted to hear everyone sing out loud. “Many thanks”, he said in Swedish, as he divided the crowd into two opposite parts because he wanted to see a wall of death to end the night. “You have to wait until I count you in”, he said, and as the band played the intro he counted to three and the wall of death slammed forth. “Beyond the Matrix” was the choice of song for the chaos as many seemed to appreciate the wall of death while others looked a bit scared. A smaller circle pit also formed during the song, after which Simons thanked everyone once again for their huge support and the fans clapped so hard and cheered so much that the band decided to do another encore in “Consign to Oblivion”. Jensen said he wanted to see a real circle pit during the last song and it seemed like the band had somehow forgotten all about the wall of death and circle pits until the last part of the show. It was the perfect way of ending the night with that song; both the band and the fans gave their absolute all and made the show a night to remember. Simons had the fans scream at her command and that ended the night. The band took off their instruments and thanked the fans for the last time. The fans was ready to leave but Simons wanted everyone to stay just a little longer in order for the band to take a selfie with the fans in the background.
Altogether the show lasted for 90 minutes and I don’t think that the band or the fans was disappointed with the night, however a few more songs wouldn’t have hurt. Epica’s music is not my favorite but I have to admit they put on a great show and I was really entertained. The band were all extremely skilled and solid as a unit. I was also impressed by the vitality and energy the band managed to put up for the last show on the tour. Simons and Jensen completed each other vocally and even though the band didn’t have much of a back line, it was offset by the masterful keyboard work by Janssen. The great lights and sound were the icing on the cake and it felt like all of the fans were really happy with what they had seen. The only thing I had wished for was to hear more songs from the older albums as half the set list focused on songs from THE HOLOGRAPHIC PRINCIPLE, which wasn’t surprising. This show was the first of the year for me at the club and it was the perfect way of kicking of 2017 at Kulturbolaget.
If you want to see and hear more from Epica the band is out on tour in Asia in April and in South America in May. After that it’s time for festivals in Europe during the summer, a few festivals the band is booked for are Download Festival in France and Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium. A few dates in The Netherlands are also booked in the fall.
Edge Of the Blade
A Phantasmic Parade
The Cosmic Algorithm
Martyr Of the Free World
The Obsessive Devotion
Ascension – Dream State Armageddon
Dancing In A Hurricane
Cry For The Moon
Beyond The Matrix
Consign To Oblivion
Thanks to the head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren for help with press/photo pass to the show
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the club.