On the evening of Tuesday 26th April, 2016, I traveled down to the O2 Academy in Birmingham to witness the co-headlining show consisting of the Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani, and the Finnish pagan metal band Moonsorrow. For this particular gig, the bands performed in the venue’s second performance space, instead of the main room where I had seen Slayer, Anthrax, Sabaton, Alestorm and various other acts beforehand.
The first of the two bands to take to the stage on the night itself was that of Moonsorrow, fresh off the back of their most recent studio album, 2016’s Jumalten aika (or “Age of Gods” in English), that had been released a few weeks previously. The band opened with the title track of their aforementioned new album, and the rest of their set focused primarily on material from the new record, as tracks such as “Suden tunti”, “Ruttolehto incl. Paivattoman paivan kansa” and “Ihmisen aika (Kumarrus pimeyteen) were all performed during their set. Some tracks from the band’s previous work were also featured, such as “Sankaritania” and “Rauniollia”. Despite there being visibly more Korpiklaani shirts throughout the venue than Moonsorrow shirts, the response to the opening band in terms of crowd activity was surprisingly positive. For the entirety of their set, Moonsorrow had the audience wrapped around their finger including mass clap-a-longs, as well as dozens of headbangers throughout the front half of the crowd. A very pleasing opening to the proceedings on the night itself, which appropriately set up the high-energy in the crowd for the final band Korpiklaani.
Korpiklaani’s musical style could not be any more different than that of Moonsorrow, but nonetheless they got an incredibly warm reception from the audience as said previously based on the sheer amount of Korpiklaani t-shirts there were in the crowd that night. Gone were the eerie and sinister black metal vibes of paganism, instead replaced with accordions and a fairly large mosh pit opening up in the middle of the crowd featuring people’s attempts at Morris dancing. Two very different responses but both overwhelmingly positive ones at that. In terms of the setlist that they played, Korpiklaani performed 23 songs spanning many of their albums. Just a few of the songs that were performed on the night included “Wooden Pints”, “Rauta”, “Lempo”, “Journey Man”, “Kipumylly”, and “Palovana”, among many others. Korpiklaani’s set was also vastly different in terms of pace, primarily due to the length of the songs themselves as well as the difference in the energy of the people in attendance. The band closed on their track “Beer Beer”, before the night was over.
In conclusion, both bands were fantastic and made a genuinely positive impression on me. The spectacle of Moonsorrow’s set was something you must witness with your own eyes, while Korpiklaani’s performance can only be summed up with one word: fun. Those who attended any of the shows on this co-headlining tour will hopefully agree with me.