Het was alweer een paar geleden dat de band rond Christopher Johnsson op ditzelfde podium stond en de zaal tot groot enthousiasme bracht. Nu mochten eerst het Zweedse Loch Vostok en het Noorse Leprous het publiek opwarmen.
Loch Vostok, aangevoerd door de zwaarlijvige gitarist/zanger Teddy Möller, speelde een vrij harde set richting death metal maar zo hier en daar prachtige gitaarsolo's en meer melodieuze stukjes. Voor de gemiddelde prog-fan geen geschikte kost.
Veel meer progressieve naast ook avantgarde elementen waren te ontdekken in de muziek van het jonge Noorse gezelschap Leprous met een hoofdrol voor zanger/toetsenist Einar Solberg. Diens geschreeuw sprak me echter minder aan maar diens 'normale' zang en de diverse instrumentale passages waren zeer genietbaar. In sommige stukjes was onmiskenbaar de invloed van Pain Of Salvation te herkennen.
Dan een twee uur durende show van Therion. De lange 'wilde' haren van Johnsson zijn verleden tijd en de recent vader geworden hier voerde het 8-koppige gezelschap aan, dat door vooral de albums Sitra Ahra en de albums daarvoor heen wervelde en kreeg wederom het publiek vol achter zich. Statig de verschijning van Vikström, wulps en uitdagend de uitstraling van Katarina Lilja, een machtig sopraangeluid van de charmante Lori Lewis en de joker in het gezelschap heette (wederom) Snowy Shaw. Diens outfit en veelzijdige zang (van grunts tot klassieke tenor) was een prima smaakmaker. De rol van het meesterbrein op het podium was, zoals de laatste jaren al, bescheiden en hij liet vooral gitarist Vidal en de vier vocalisten schitteren in dit indrukwekkend theatrale muziekspektakel. Opvallend is dat het gehalte aan melodieuze stukken steeds meer toeneemt naarmate de jaren vorderen en met name door de vier door de wol geverfde vocalisten is Therion zowel als kijkspektakel als vanuit prog-oog bekeken de moeite waard. Leuk om te zien hoe sopraan Lewis ook nog piano speelt en dat Vikström de dwarsfluit weet te hanteren.
Twijfelende proggers die Therion van vroeger kennen moeten toch deze muziek nog maar eens een herkansing geven. Met een dirigent als Johnsson aan het roer gaat Therion zeker het vijfentwintig jarig jubileum halen!
A few years back I had the pleasure of seeing Therion in the same venue with their "Gothic Kabbalah" show. Instead of Therion's new frontman Thomas Vikström (ex-Candlemass), back then there was Mats Levén, accompanied by the same three vocalists as on the bill now: Lori Lewis, Katarina Lilja and Snowy Shaw. Because of maybe another musical direction, another image or whatever other reason, mastermind Chris(topher) Johnsson decided to fire his band (Kristian Niemann, Petter Karlsson and Johann Niemann) and recorded Therion's latest offering Sitra Ahra with Johan Koleberg on drums, Christian Vidal on guitar and Nalle Pählsson on bass. For the tour however, Pählsson was replaced by Waldemar Sorychta. To my surprise the "Oosterpoort" was almost deserted when I came to collect my photo pass. It turned out, the show had been transferred to the small hall, instead of the main hall, where it had originally been scheduled. Apparently the ticket sales were somewhat disappointing.....
Indeed, when the first support-act Loch Vostok came on stage, the hall (and only downstairs) was only filled halfway. The five piece from Sweden, fronted by the heavyweight guitar player Teddy Möller played a kind of raw hardcore/metal combination. In spite of the impressive guitar solos and some fine melodic bits & pieces, the majority of the music by Mano Lewys (guitar), Tomas "Tym" Jonsson (bass), Fredrik Klingwall (keyboards) and Lawrence Dinamarca (drums) was just not progressive enough (read too raw and heavy) for my ears.
Next in line were a young five piece from Norway: Leprous. Fronted by Einar Solberg (synth/vocals), wearing dreadlocks and just like his band mates dressed in red & grey, the band looked much sweeter than their music: an interesting combination of metal, avant-garde, pop and progressive. Although I do not like grunts or shouts, part of the music most certainly proved to be appealing to a lot of people in the crowd. Together with his young band mates (ages from 19-24) Tor Oddmund Suhrke (guitar), Halvor Strand (bass), Øystein Landsverk (guitar) and Tobias Ørnes Andersen (drums) the set featured their album Tall Poppy Syndrome, but according to Einar's remarks, there's a new album on the way! Influences from the eighties synthi-pop, Pain Of Salvation and A.C.T. could be distinguished. The stage performance was focused on Solberg, dancing and making gestures behind his keys, while both guitar players tried hard to stay glued to their positions for the whole set. These youngsters don't have a lot of experience yet although the band was founded back in 2001. Talented enough however and as far as I'm concerned surely worthwhile to review their forthcoming album!
Then Therion: most of us will know the band plays a very different kind of music compared to the early days, although some classical influences were there from the beginning. The long thin hair of founding member Johnsson had been cut and the composer of most of Therion's music now looks like a perfect gentleman in his costume, bow tie and high hat. Only the gloves were lacking! Then the vocalists: Lori Lewis, this good looking American soprano keeps amazing me with her powerful voice and her impressive range. Then there was the evocative Katarina Lilja, playing the crowd with her challenging looks and versatile voice. Then Therion's new frontman: Thomas Vikström. His appearance was both solemn as well as intriguing. He didn't seem to have any difficulties to take part in the theatrical performances of his companion vocalists while he managed to use his voice as a trained tenor on one moment and exceeding my expectations in his performance of Blood Of Kingu. At times Thomas played the flute too. Last but not least the entertainer of the show: Snowy Shaw, his outfit and appearance alone were enough to get the crowd ecstatic. Growling grunts, classical singing as a tenor, high screams, a clear voice, Shaw mastered all of those very convincingly. His wild 'blond' hair, black moustache and "Alice Cooper" make up were a perfect combination to lift the whole spectacle to a higher level. Too bad only the bottom floor of the "Oosterpoort" was filled, because this show deserved better.
The new guitar virtuoso, Christian Vidal from Argentina, played with skill and ease and seemed to be relaxed in his new role as lead guitarist for Therion. Johnsson, as always inconspicuously but still the undisputable director of the theatre and only once at the microphone to thank the loyal fans and introducing the second encore: To Mega Therion. To my surprise Lori Lewis played the piano on several tracks while the other keyboards seem to come from a disc or lap top. Johan Koleberg, did a perfect job, high above the others but the smoke screen made him as good as invisible. In the shade and with a rather poor stage act, the stand in bass player Waldemar Sorychta was visually the less interesting 'part of the show'. One of the unexpected highlight was a great rendition of Clavicula Nox, a re-arranged classical piece from the Miskolc Experience album. Musically there was a lot to be enthusiastic about, also from a 'progressive' point of view. Though the roots are metal, the musical, pop, classical and folkloristic influences make the music of Therion from a different dimension hard to put in a box. Symphonic gothic metal maybe could be the most accurate description, but what's more important, Therion are not done yet and presumably the music will only get better still. Surely their last album Sitra Ahra could be worth checking out, this evening was definitely worth watching.
Setlist Loch Vostok:
A Mission Undivine
Unknown (my apologies)
Unknown (apologies again)
Wine Of Aluqah
Voyage Of Gurdieff
Kali Yuga III
Call Of Dagon
Siren Of The Woods
Blood Of Kingu
Rise Of Sodom & Gomorrah
To Mega Therion