The O2 ABC in Glasgow is an excellent concert venue but like so many these days has the annoying habit of putting a curfew on gigs to allow them to have a club on after the bands have finished playing.
Epica – Myrkur – Oceans Of Slumber – O2 ABC, Glasgow
Words: Ian Sutherland, Pictures: Ya Cheng
First Published: 13 April 2018
When you have a three band bill like tonight this means that Oceans Of Slumber have to start their set at the most un-rock and roll time of 6.30pm in a hall which is slowly filling up.
I loved these US progressive Metallers’ 2015 release ‘Winter’, but wasn’t sure about the recent follow up ‘The Banished Heart’ which has taken their sound to darker places so I was keen to check them out live for the first time.
The darker places they have gone seemed to include the ABC stage as they were given minimal lighting and not a huge amount of space either. The start was tentative but they were soon into their dark complex grooves with the band sounding effortlessly tight.
Singer Cammie Gilbert has real presence as she sings along with a terrific voice, adding an almost diva-like quality to the vibe on stage. Between songs there is very little interaction with the crowd though, and their short set just never really took off.
Their songs about neglect and death and heartbreak just didn’t really suit being in an early opening act slot. I’d like to see them do a headlining club show before making my mind up on them as a live act as there is so much potential there.
The theme of trying to make my mind up about an act continued with Denmark’s Myrkur. Amelie Bruun’s one-woman project of dark, ethereal, atmospheric sounds divided opinion in the audience. Some thought it was boring, folky, dark wave elements in the wrong place, others loved her spooky, breathy voice fused with an atmospheric Metal soundscape.
I was somewhere in the middle. There weren’t really any actual songs which grabbed me and made me remember them but I enjoyed the vibe that was created a lot.
It’s the kind of music that maybe does work better in the right place at the right time but it transferred better to this support slot than you might think and I certainly felt encouraged to check out some more Myrkur.
I asked one of Epica’s management team a few years ago if they were planning to work the UK market and try and build up their audience there. I was told no. but I’m so glad that this has turned out to be incorrect.
These Dutch symphonic Metallers have got as far as they have with a mixture of talent and sheer hard work on the road and it’s great to see it starting to pay off in the UK. Each successive headline show in Glasgow has seen them move to a bigger venue, and at last here in the ABC they have a big stage and a big crowd to enjoy.
Enjoy it they do too. One of the things that turns Epica into an excellent live band is how much fun they seem to be having up there.
From Coen Janssen’s wandering keyboards to the little smiles and interactions between members to drummer Arien “The Beast” van Weesenbeek’s manic grin as he plays his complex rhythms with unbelievable energy, the sheer joy of the live music experience is shared with the crowd who lapped it all up.
Sixteen years into their career they are at the point where they have a huge swathe of material to choose a set list from.
Tonight they manage that fine balancing act very well with popular old favourites like crowd participation favourite ‘Cry For The Moon’ and the marching, powerful elegance of ‘Sancta Terra’ mixing nicely with newer tunes such as the irrepressible energy of ‘Beyond The Matrix’ and the typically epic ‘Dancing In A Hurricane’.
Things came to a close with the traditional set piece finish of ‘Consign To Oblivion’ complete with the also now traditional wall of death moment in the crowd at the start.
On record Epica are a heavy, intense and sometimes dark experience laced with melody. Live, they add a smile and a zest for life to that which just makes the whole thing a joyous experience and they left me sweaty and with a huge grin on my face. Again.