Because the rather excellent Noorderligt venue is closing down, they decided to go out with a bang. One of the many excellent concerts lined up in September and October was Moonspell, supported by - in order of appearance - Darkside, Anathema and Therion.

Darkside, from Austria, played a short set of rather cliche metal off their album "Evolution". I have a feeling this band might strike it big soon, because this kind of metal is getting really popular. 'Nuff said.

Next were Anathema, the band that has said goodbye to its doom metal past and now makes a kind of gothic and astonishingly emotional music. These guys have grown tremendously musically, although in the process they have lost many an old fan. Once you realise it's a different band although the name has remained the same, it's just a damn fine band. Bassist Duncan has been replaced by Anathema FC main man Dave Pybus, Shaun Steels does the drumming these days, and Martin "formerly of MDB" Powell takes care of the keyboards. Predictably, Anathema concentrated on material off their recent two albums, "Eternity" and "Alternative 4". "Fragile Dreams", "Empty", "Inner Silence" and "Alternative 4" off the latter; "Angelica" and "Hope" off the former (as well as, I seem to recall, "Eternity Part III"). What struck me as particularly weird was that vocalist/guitarist Vinnie Cavanagh announced the "Eternity" songs as 'old ones' (which prompted the audience to break out in chantings of "Lovelorn Rhapsody!" and "Sleepless!", which were ignored). Although the sound system seemed incapably manned at times, that seemed not to harm anyone in the audience. The encores were "Sleepless" and "A Dying Wish" - of their first and second full-length albums respectively.

The main band for which I had come was Therion. Although the massive sound of the studio albums was lacking most of the time, the gig caught me by the balls right from the opener, "The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah", followed by "To Mega Therion" and "Cults of the Shadow" (dedicated to Anathema who would leave the tour the day after). Christofer Johnsson moved around with gusto, clearly having an excellent time. Three female singers graced the right side of the stage - the echantingly sensuous Martina Hornbacher, the perhaps less enchanting but powerfully convincing soprano Sarah Jezibel Diva and a female alto singer whose name I never quite found out. To the last of these three fell the onerous task of singing the male parts in songs from "Theli", originally sung by Dan Swano. Her mic could easily have been turned up a bit, I think (as could the spotlight). From "Vovin" I think we also got to hear "Wine of Aluqah" and "Black Sun". They also played a song off "Lepaca Kliffoth", whereas the encore was comprised of a really old death metal song that was no doubt off one of their earliest few albums. The set struck me as rather short, but very enjoyable. There was no visible keyboard player, so I think a tape with synth sections might have run in the background. Whatever may have been the case, Therion was the highlight of the evening, regardless of what their music loses without a proper choire and orchestra.

It struck me that Christofer was quite small for a genius...

Moonspell, well, anything they've done since "Wolfheart" fails to enchant me. A few songs were played from that album, but I am afraid Moonspell's music as a whole has lost me. Just a tad too techno if you ask me.



Written September 1998


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