Ensiferum – Islington Academy, London – 24th March 2015

Normally when you have a midweek gig in London, the first band plays to a half empty venue, but when the doors are an hour earlier than usual then its usually an almost completely empty venue, so it was a surprise tonight to arrive at the venue to find a huge queue outside.

By the time Omnium Gatherum took to the stage at 6.30pm, the venue was already around 90% full – almost unheard of for such an early time.  Right from the start it was clear that the Finnish band had plenty of fans in the crowd – I’ve never seen such a great reaction from a London crowd for an opening act as Omnium Gatherum got.  Their death metal sound went down a storm – a superb start to the night.

Setlist;:

Luoto
New dynamic
Living in me
Sonic sign
Unknowing
New world shadows
Everfields

Next came INSOMNIUM and it was clear they too were a popular choice for the fans as they raced through a great set of fast and heavy death metal.  We get a set that mixes old and new with four songs from the current album and songs from some of their earlier albums  – in fact they kick off with “The killjoy” from their 2006 album “Above the weeping world”.  It’s a great set and goes down a storm with the fans – loads of people headbanging and everyone having a great time.

Setlist

The Killjoy
While We Sleep
Every Hour Wounds
Daughter of the Moon
Black Heart Rebellion
Where The Last Wave Broke
The Promethean Song
Drawn to Black
Ephemeral
Weighed Down With Sorrow

The first two bands may have gone down well but Ensiferum still managed to take things up a notch with their brand of folk metal.  Songs such as “One man army” are more thrash or death metal than folk metal so it’s no surprise to see a moshpit forming fairly early in their set.  In fact Ensiferum play a mix tonight ranging from songs that are more thrash or death metal sounding to songs with a much more prominent folk feel to them.

Bassist Sami Hinkka is like a man possessed as he windmills and charges around the stage, staring wildly and gesturing at the crowd and really helps to keep the crowd energy and excitement levels high.

On this tour, keyboard player Emmi Silvennoinen isn’t with the band, so former Turisas accordion player Netta Skog is standing in for him.  She’s an obvious choice having played accordion and done some vocals on the “One man army” album.  Most of the time she’s at the back of the stage but on several occasions came forward to perform at the front – most notably at the start of “Two of spades” where she and Sami play some Finnish Humppa music as an intro before introducing “Two of spades” as some Disco – and yes at times there is a disco sound to it amongst the folk and metal.

The band all do backing vocals, so while Petri does most of the singing, when it comes to the chorus the others all join in which gives a real boost to the chorus and adds to that folk metal sound.

The crowd tonight is exceptional – so many people crammed into a small venue and most of them singing along at times, or simply cheering.  At times the crowd is a sea of fists in the air which must look amazing from the stage.  The energy levels are so high – and that is fairly standard fro Ensiferum gigs as they are such a great live band.

For the encore the band all swapped instruments for the Judas Priest classic, “Breaking the law” – Petri on bass, Janne on guitar, Sami on accordion, Markus on drums, and Netta on vocal showing just how talented and versatile these musicians are. Netta did a great job fronting the band for that song as she strutted around in a police cap and sunglasses and sang.  A nice touch for the encore.  The band then finished the set with three more of their own songs which took us up to curfew – a great long set from Ensiferum.

Tonight really was a superb gig – three bands that are all different styles, but all were immensely popular with the crowd and all put in great performances.  It’s so good to see a bill that’s been put together this well, and the fans had a great night.

Setlist

Axe of Judgement
Heathen Horde
Into Battle
Little Dreamer (Väinämöinen, Part II)
Warrior Without a War
Ahti
Smoking Ruins
Two of Spades
(Preceeded by a bit of finnish… more )
Unsung Heroes
Burning Leaves
One Man Army
Victory Song

Encore:
Breaking the Law
From Afar
Token of Time
Iron

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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