Venue: Foufounes Électriques
Opening bands: Karkaos, Alcoholator
Tour: Winter Rite 2013
I had been looking forward to this concert for months. I was actually thinking about it as the best metal concert that Montreal would get in 2013. I was especially excited to see the band that was my main discovery in 2012, Pallbearer. Some of you probably know what happened next. All the touring bands got caught in Winnipeg due to a huge snow storm that had the canadian roads closed. The only band that managed to get here was Enslaved, by making a detour through Michigan. When I heard that Pallbearer, Royal Thunder and Ancient VVisdom were no longer playing, I was kinda devastated, but I figured I would still go to the show since they were not giving any refund and because Enslaved totally kill live. Brave Concerts had managed to get two last minute local openers: Alcoholator and Karkaos. Poor choices to open for Enslaved, but when you try to find a band to play a show about 5 hours before the show itself, you don't get to choose much. I thought that Karkaos were going on first, so I arrived late in order to miss them, but it was the other way around, so I ended up missing my favourite Montreal thrashers and having to stand through one of Karkaos' generic "epic" female-fronted melodic death metal sets for the fifth time. In short, they play a style that way to many bands play (the kind of ordinary melodeath influenced by Children of Bodom and Amon Amarth, with keyboards, clean vocals and cheesy lyrics), but they're seen as "one of the most promising bands in Montreal" because they have a female singer and a fancy music video. They had good energy and they lead guitarist knew how to sweep pick pretty fast, but their drummer's style was way too bland and unimaginative - just like their songwriting. Let's say I got bored pretty quick.
After they finished playing and taking their gear out, Rob from Brave Concerts (for your interest, he also plays in the black/death band Necronomicon) went on stage, thanked the two local bands and told us that Enslaved were definitely playing - we just had to be patient. The borders had been close because of the blizzard, so they had been stuck there for a few hours, but they were on their way. That was around 10:30 pm. I walked around a bit and went downstairs at some point, talking to a lot of people, who all seemed just (or almost) as disappointed by the turn of events as I was. I ended up sitting at a table near the bar upstairs with a few of my friends and some other people, talking, killing time. About an hour later, Rob came back on stage and, after some technical difficulties, got us Grutle from Enslaved on the phone. He told us that they had crossed the US border and that they were psyched to play here, which was believable - Grutle always said that Montreal was his favourite city in North America. We then went back to our table and waited until the Norwegians finally stormed in with their amps and drums, after midnight. The band was greeted by a cheerful standing ovation, and loads of yelling and chanting (the number of people who had chosen to stay this late was actually impressive). The gear was set up and the instruments were tuned surprisingly quickly, but then, for no apparent reason, the band took a very long time to show up. Since I was starting to get a bit stressed out, I did something I rarely do at shows since it's expensive; I grabbed a beer. Enslaved only went on stage by 1:30 am. After their intro, Grutle thanked us for our patience and all the band seemed to be happy to be out of all the trouble they had went through in the last three days. They started with the flawless opener "RIITIIR", which immediately got me back in the mood. The only problem was the sound. It was pretty muddy and the vocals were inaudible, but it got fixed by the time they went into the majestic "Watcher". The sound was actually impeccable after the second song of the set; you could hear every instrument and voice clearly, and everything was heavy as hell: that riff in "Thoughts Like Hammers"! As he always does, Grutle kept yelling Quebec swearing words and making jokes throughout the set, which made things even more enjoyable.
The band was definitely pleased to be playing for us, and that pleasure was obviously shared by the crowd. The headbanging, screaming, chanting and moshing were relentless. The crowd was in fact much wilder than when Enslaved played at Café Campus last year; something amazing for such a late hour. Another highlight was the majestic progressive masterpiece "Convoys to Nothingness" form 2001's Monumension
. They then played an old classic from their Hordanes Land
EP, followed by their eternal closer, "Isa". They were supposed to end it there, due to the curfew, but a roadie ran to Grutle and told him they had time to play one more, so they delivered the beautiful "As Fire Swept Clean the Earth" as an answer to the fans' chanting. They then all jumped down from the stage, shook hands and talked to everybody. Because of all they went through just to play here and because of the warm attitude they kept, my respect for those Norwegians just grew even more that night.
It was a night to remember for both the band and the crowd. It was very disappointing, because the two bands I was the most psyched to see had cancelled and because Enslaved not only did not manage to play and extra song, but they also cut my favourite track of the new record, "Roots of the Mountain". We didn't get "Fenris" either. Let's say that if I knew what would happen, I wouldn't have payed 23$ for that ticket, but Enslaved made it worth it and it is probably going to be one of the most memorable concerts in my life.
I'm just hoping thins kind of trouble doesn't happen for the Marduk/Moonspell show on Sunday...
The Sleeping Gods (intro)
Thoughts Like Hammers
Convoys to Nothingness
As Fire Swept Clean the Earth