Fresh from my interview with Katatonia frontman Jonas Renkse (coming soon exclusively here on rocksins.com) in the side bar in the Garage that I never knew existed, I got to slip into the main room shortly before doors, so got a drink and got myself an excellent position for the opening band, Long Distance Calling from Germany.
I had never even heard of the band before I saw the Katatonia tour posters, and had not had the chance to listen to them in the run up to the gig, but what followed in the next half an hour was some quality ambient metal. Guitar strains that were very reminiscent of Isis and Red Sparowes were married with some riffs and drumming sections like Pelican at their heaviest and at times bordering on proper thrash metal. Needless to say this went down a storm with the quickly growing crowd, and the band got a thoroughly good send off at the end of their set. A great way to kick things off.
Katatonia’s fellow Scandanavians Swallow The Sun provided main support this evening, the Finnish ambient doom 6 piece being given a very good welcome as they all stood on stage poised for some considerable time before launching into opener These Woods Breathe Evil. Singer Mikko KotamÃƒÂ¤ki regularly swapped through his awesome vocal range, with Cult of Luna-esque deep vocals at times and almost resembling Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir at others on some of the more lively moments. Newest album New Moon got an airing in the form of the excellent title track and half of the rest of the set noless whilst the closing Sorrow had an awful lot of headbanging taking place, even threatening to break out into a full on pit.
The Swallow The Sun setlist was:
These Woods Breathe Evil
These Hours Of Despair
Don’t Fall Asleep (Horror Pt. 2)
Plague Of Butterflies
Swallow (Horror pt.1)
It is evident tonight that, while there are quite a few Swallow The Sun T-Shirt wearers in attendance, the majority have been waiting for Katatonia, the theory confirmed by the enormous cheer as they strolled on stage and launched into Forsaker, the opener from the majestic Night Is The New Day. Staying with their newest album they carried on into Liberation, and then followed with the fantastic My Twin from last album The Great Cold Distance.
Unlike their recent tour with Paradise Lost when Night Is The New Day had barely hit the shelves and thus they only played one track from it, tonight we are treated to a good helping of tracks from their newest work, including new single The Longest Year and the fantastic Onward Into Battle. Whilst working in the new album, Katatonia also make very good use of their back catalogue, including playing 2 or 3 songs that they had never played live before (though I am not 100% sure which these were, so any hardcore Katatonia fans who were at the show are more than welcome to help me out here!).
Frontman Jonas does not talk to the crowd often, apart from to thank us in between every 2 or 3 songs, and you can tell that he genuinely means it every time he says it. He also in brief mentions the members of the band who left and their replacements, Per “Sodomizer” Eriksson and Niklas “Nille” Sandin (who flashed the horns in appreciation on every available opportunity) who were flawless and seemed like they had been in the band its entire existence. What is also very apparent is the hardcore nature of the fans in attendance, I must have been one of the few people in the room that did not know every word of every song.
When the band disappeared off stage after For My Demons from the Tonight’s Decision and the lights went back down, no-one was leaving and everyone was cheering for an encore. Katatonia duly obliged with Dispossession from the Last Fair Deal Gone Down album before finishing off with Leaders, giving everyone a very happy send off.
As The Relentless Garage spilled its occupants onto the Highbury streets, if there were any disappointed people I would be very surprised. A top class performance from Katatonia put the seal on what had been an excellent evening of Gothic, Doom and Ambient metal. We can only hope their schedule permits them to return in the near future.
Katatonia’s setlist was:
Onward Into Battle
The Longest Year
Saw You Drown
Ghost Of The Sun
Day & Then The Shade
In The White
For My Demons