Katatonia, Alcest, Junius
O2 Newcastle
17 December 2012

Live review

Firstly, lets get the awkward stuff out of the way first. Katatonia are what I would class as a relatively popular band. They play large venues in London and other capital cities. So imagine how bloody disheartening it is in smaller venue around the country when people seem completely disinterested in what you’re doing. Surely you can wait half an hour without going down the 6 flights of stairs for a tab, or to talk about where you’re going next. If you’re going to go and see a band, watch them, listen to them and enjoy them. And my camera was confiscated due to not having the correct pass so no pictures. Sorry.

Rant over.

Due to work and the A1 being full of foolish people descending on the Metro Centre I’m afraid I only caught the last number from Boston-based band Junius. Gutted is not the word. Hints of Aerogramme and Thine they sounded excellent and the few people in the venue to see them seemed to appreciate what they had done. Next time chaps.

Alcest Les Voyages De L’Ame is one of the finest albums of the year and the Avignon based four piece have been on my list of “must see” for a while and here they are supporting Katatonia in Newcastle.

Always ready to be disappointed when a band like this play live as it can always come across as slightly twee and uninteresting but these fears were allayed quickly when they opened with track one “Outré Temps”. Amazing is the only word I can give. The quiet bits were quiet were shimmering and clear, the noisy bits were harsh and atmospheric. Highlight of their all too brief set was centerpiece to the album, “Nous Sommes L’Emeraude”. Completely blown away. So much so my good lady has threatened to remove certain fleshy parts of my body if I mention them again. If you haven’t checked out the album and you’re a fan of anything from I Like Trains to Wolves in the Throne Room then there’s something here for you. Superb.

And so to Katatonia. Currently riding the wave of popularity of proggy metal acts like Steven Wilson and Opeth but retaining that sense of melody they’ve always had. I first witnessed them support In The Woods back in the ’90s and have seen them most years since. So it’s a real pleasure to find they’ve improved 100% since their last tour. Singer Jonas Renske has discovered a comfortable, unstrained way of singing and lordy does it make a difference. Older sings like Deadhouse (listen to that without the little hairs on the back of your neck rising) and Sweet Nurse have at last become complete.

It’s also nice to see musicians enjoying themselves on stage. The guitars were crisp, vocals shone through and the only thing I’d complain about is the fact the soundman obviously spent an age getting a deep bass drum sound then ran out of time for the rest of the drums as the snare sounded like someone had dropped Lars Ulrich into a swimming pool (wishful thinking) it was so muggy.

The other thing Katatonia have done is really work on their set list. Once again, the improvements make me feel Katatonia have finally become the complete package. New songs from Dead End Kings, especially opening track The Parting, Buildings and album highlight The Racing Heart mix well with older material although I’m still at a loss to understand why material from “Viva Emptiness” still gets an airing, I really don’t rate the album (personal opinion, it just doesn’t do anything for me).

This night made my Christmas, despite all the idiots. I’m not sure a gold trimmed tracksuit top is the future for merchandising, but this really was a great night and a great surprise.

Well done chaps, see you next year.

All words by Nick Wood. You can read more from Nick on LTW here.

 

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