Katatonia + Cellar Darling + Wheel
@ Islington Assembly Hall
25th May 2019
Review & Photography by Ryan Whitwell (Shotison.com)
Turning up to Islington Assembly Hall, there was a sizeable queue outside well before doors. The gig was a sellout night, featuring three bands. Katatonia would be playing the final show of their “Night is the New Day” 10th Anniversary tour, and alongside them would be support from Cellar Darling and Wheel.
Wheel opened the night with their brand of technical prog metal.
I’m a big fan of long format numbers, and Wheel certainly have those. Playing songs from their new album, “Moving Backwards”, I loved the flowing and continuous songs with changes in rhythms and tempos in there to keep the set interesting, all standards of the genre but executed expertly.
I especially enjoyed the last number, titled “Wheel”. It features those tricky time signatures I expected of the band but also had some thumping bass and a darkened tone. Whilst the strobe lights kicked up a notch, I noticed a few sing-alongs in the crowd as people were really getting into it. They were a new band for me, but I’m certainly going to be listening to them and keeping an eye out for them in future!
Sweden’s Cellar Darling would prove to be an excellent addition to the line-up as they stepped out, gaining a great reaction from the crowd.
A very impressive band, utilising a few folk elements with some epic chord progressions and tonal shifts. It’s hard not to be impressed by Anna Murphy’s vocals, but she also delivers with flute playing and use of a hurdy-gurdy to really drive home that folk sound in a few of the numbers.
The final number, Redemption (from the 2017 album, This is the Sound), was an excellent culmination of all the songs that had come before in their set. A mix of gentile vocals, heavy riffs, crashing drums, some hurdy-gurdy melodies, and an increase in intensity as the song progressed. Brilliant way to end a superb set.
Katatonia would grace the stage after a bit of time, giving fans plenty of time to pack in to the Islington Assembly Hall and get geared up for the impending set. As the band walked out the fans were certain to make themselves heard!
Of course, if you are reading this you most likely know of Katatonia. The macabre prog style worked well tonight. The venue is essentially a theatre layout, which helped with the more theatrical tones of Katatonia’s set. The lighting, as a photographer, was not much fun, but as an audience member it too enhanced the dramatic edge and darker mystery sounds with silhouettes and dramatic spotlights directly overhead at times. Of course, the music doubled down those emotions, with some brilliant emotional moments that seemed to touch a few members in the crowd.
Doomy tracks like Nephilim are a great reminder of the band’s variety and embracing of darker tones. The whole album is brilliant and it was great to hear it live in this way. Anniversary tours like this can be hit or miss, but with an album like Night is the New Day it works, possibly because the album itself sounds like an album rather than a collection of individual songs, so as a set it flows very well.
We were also treated to an encore with a few of the band’s other popular numbers, and a Judas Priest cover. It was a nice way to cap off the evening after the intensity of the main set.
The Longest Year
Onward Into Battle
The Promise of Deceit
Day and Then the Shade
Old Heart Falls
Night Comes Down (Judas Priest cover)