So, after a good night’s sleep, everything was finally, slowly getting ready to crystalize…
The day seemed to drag on at it’s own slow but steady pace, and as it got to be just about time, I went on my way towards the 013.
Today was going to be a main stage day almost exclusively – which is actually a bit weird for me, since I normally tend to lurk around the smaller stages at a festival, not usually bothering about headliners.
But the main stage program for this thursday really was exquisite.
On the way there, I hooked up with an English guy, Declan from Liverpool, who told me this was also his first Roadburn, that he’d decided he would want to go since the Neurosis 30 year shows announcement had been made, and that his wife gave him the ticket for his birthday… Which is weirdly also exactly how my Roadburn 2016 story goes! Thanks for the chat Declan – hope Inverloch played a great set.
First up was something I’ve really looked forward to – Cult Of Luna playing Somewhere Along The Highway. Previously I’ve had mixed feelings about playing albums in a live setting, but given the right album, this can really turn into something very special. And no doubt about it – Somewhere Along The Highway is a right album, and the whole experience was breathtaking.
You can approach playing an album in many different ways (and this thursday at the main stage of Roadburm showed 3 actually) but given this particular album, Cult Of Luna’s decision to “simply” play the songs with no announcements before and between tracks, was just the right one to lift this into a sublime experience of a band playing their asses off in a fantastic set.
Next up was The Skull. Eric Wagner to me really is the quintessential doom vocalist (at least when you’re talking doom in a traditional sense), so gettng to see him on stage 3 times here at Roadburn is a very welcome overindulgement – I’m simply being spoiled here. Of course the band had a lot more space to move around in than the night before at the Cul De Sac, and the sound was better overall, and not the least on the vocals.
Wagner is this somewhat bear-like dude, trudging around on the stage, and when time comes to do his thing, pouring every conceivable ounce of pain and emotion into the song. And no matter if playing Trouble-classics or their own stuff, The Skull is an incredibly tight band. In the end, the blend is just the right amount of “nostalgia” (for lack of a better word) and new top-notch tracks, for this to be yet an impressive performance. And I am of course really looking forward to the friday-oldschool-Trouble set!
The third band for the night was Mat McNerny and his Finnish compatriots in Hexvessel – and oh dear, what an amazing, magical performance. I’ve grown quite fond of Hexvessel over the last few months, and their new album is an absolute masterpiece, but I really don’t think anything could have prepared me for this…
From the very first chord it was like love and emotion was flowing in big rivers from the band towards the audience, and I found at several times during their performance that tears where flowing slowly down my chins – so beautiful a performance.
At a point during the set, McNerney spoke about the importance of having events like Roadburn, celebrating the sacredness of music – well, this was about as sacred as it gets. This will linger in my mind for a very long time!
So, we’re around half way through the first day, and I’m already emotionally devastated by fantastic performances – could this possibly continue?
Well, we’ve got 2 more album-sets for the day, and the answer to the question is a resounding yes!
Converge is of course an amazing band of great musicians, together creating something a lot more than the mere parts put together. And when Jacob Bannon asked the audience if they were ready for this, and the answer was a very loud and somewhat drunk, collective “yes” there was really no looking back.
With an incredibly focused performance Converge owned the house. Bannon frantically jolting ariund the stage, mic perhaps flying around more than being in his hand, Nate Newton being the perhaps most energetic bassplayer in existence, thrashing around totally into the music, Kurt Ballou pouring out riffs of true, liquid metal, and center stage, Ben Koller being Ben Koller – an amazing drummer to watch. Converge came, saw, and conquered, and Jane Doe really is a fantastic album. So yes 2 out of 2 for the night so far – albums actually can translate into great live-performances.
So, we’re getting to the last act on the main stage for me this thursday – one I had actually approached with mixed feelings. For one, Gothic is a truly classic album, so there is that. But on the other hand, I saw Paradise Lost 2 years ago in Copenhagen (where they were supporting – of all bands – Volbeat), and even though we had a great time during their set, they seemed not particularly focused. And Nick Holmes was even grumpier than usual.
So, could they pull this off – could they deliver Gothic with the intensity it truly deserves. Well, let’s just say, the night ended 3 for 3. Paradise Lost totally came through, actually even seeming to enjoy themselves. As if doing this actually propelled them back in time, in sync with whatever came together at that time, creating this masterpiece.
And Nick Holmes? Not even a bit of grumpiness in sight. In fact he was smiling at several instances, joking with the audience! At one point he was asking if there were anyone in the audience who were there when they last played Roadburn many years ago – he counted around 7 hands, then commented “the rest are dead, then” :-)
Totally overfed with emotion and great music, yours truly then went to end the day at the Cul De Sac, where Dead Neanderthals, a drum-saxophone duo of improvisionists, where set to round off the program in style. And great as it was – and it really was, I could feel an almost overpowering fatigue creep into my every bone – so with some sadness I exited the venue before time, making my way back to the campsite, to a welcoming sleepingbag and a night of restful sleeping.
What a start to Roadburn 2016. It really is an immense pleasure being here.