GIG REVIEW: ENSLAVED and GRAND MAGUS Live at The Button Factory, Dublin
What can only be described as a mighty night of metal mayhem took place in Dublin’s Button Factory on September 26th as Grand Magus and Enslaved brought their co-headlining tour to this most intimate of venues in the heart of Ireland’s capital. A full hour-and-a-half set from each band, executed with punctual precision, was delivered to a near sold-out crowd hungry for what was on offer.
Grand Magus charged the stage with their riding-horseback-into-battle anthems and singer/guitarist JB owned every inch of it. Magus worked and charmed the crowd as JB ran back and forth, with nary a dull moment or dead space to be found anywhere. Bassist Fox has the crowd firmly in his grasp as he played shirtless with an open jacket, including each crowd member in on the sing-along harmonies. Drummer Ludwig, blatantly the quiet one, clearly found his voice in his playing as a mid-set drum solo nearly levelled the venue with its power and the following applause. Like a slow burning stick of dynamite, Grand Magus’s “Valhalla Rising” and “Steel vs Steel” built anticipation before they returned with a single song encore – the explosive “Hammer of the North” – which did level the venue. Grand Magus are legendary in their own domain. Their long-standing formula of songwriting may have its critics, but the songs truly do take on a new shape live. Their set and show were nothing short of one hell of a great time.
Not quite the battle chargers, Enslaved comfortably strolled on stage one by one amidst a haunting, backing track that built suspense in the low-lit room. Enslaved took few breaks between their opening tracks regardless of their epic lengths, as they played “Thurisaz Dreaming”, “Fusion of Sense and Earth” and “Death in the Eyes of Dawn”, barely breaking a sweat, but not from a lack of performing.
“Building With Fire”, “Ruun”, and “Ethica” knocked out the second batch on the night, and in-between, founding members Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjornson made time for some band introductions that resonated on a funny-bone level with that night’s crowd: introducing Ivar as Father Jack Hackett, drummer Catto Bekkevoold as the Earl of Lancaster, Keyboard player Herbrand Larsen as (after much heavy thought) “someone, someone off the street that is!” and finally, guitarist Arve Isdal as Father Dougal himself. Having realised that Grutle had not been introduced (and the crowd expecting a direct reference to Father Ted Crilly), Ivar felt it was appropriate to introduce him as the man to single-handily kill Norwegian comedy; the only words spoken by him all evening and simultaneously the joke to receive the biggest laughs. A few funny comparisons and a pint or two in between, Enslaved made their way through the rest of their set with “Convoys to Nothingness”, “Allfoor Odinn” and “Isa” before the band took their final bows.
Saturday evening’s display of metal and brotherhood won’t be making its way into the history books of co-headlining tours. Nevertheless, it was a varied and joyful display of metal hidden within the walls of one of Dublin’s better venues. But many of metal’s finest moments take place beneath the radar, experienced only by the people who were there on the night and spoken of with reverence for years after. Neither band set out to make the history books; they set out to bring two great shows on opposite ends of the scale across the UK and Ireland in order to give their fans a rare occurrence of a co-headlining line-up, a great show and something to talk about till they return. Suffice it to say, they more than succeeded. Catch this tour while you can.