Sometimes the best things happen when the masses turn their attention elsewhere. While many poured into an arena on Sunday night, October 9th to watch what is now barely a distant echo of something that once was, a little way down the River Liffey something else entirely was about to take place in The Voodoo Lounge.
Time and time again Dublin city has been home to nights like these. As fans packed themselves shoulder to shoulder into a club venue to catch a glimpse of something they may only see once in their lifetime, there was a sense that tonight belonged to them. Sometimes, just sometimes, these nights live up to their expectations and words cease to be enough. This was one of those nights.
Ne Obliviscaris are currently touring heavily and in the midst of the chaos that comes with that the band, for the first time since their inception in 2003, brought their show to Dublin, Ireland. Opening the show was Dublin’s own Jenova who warmed the crowd and did their hometown proud with a tight set that was wrapped in both a humble and grateful demeanor. Second on the bill, straight from Houston, Texas was Oceans of Slumber who were playing for the first time in the city also. Though it was clear the band enjoyed the show, it was difficult to gauge whether they realised just how well they did. Despite some technical difficulties with suicidal guitar strings and microphones that are just out to get you, the band played on, giving an emotionally moving and powerfully stellar performance as their sound, along with vocalist Cammie Gilbert‘s voice, filled the room and moved all in it.
Shortly after Oceans of Slumber left the stage, the moment fans were waiting for had at long last arrived. In the months they were waiting, tickets had sold out with the demand for more still high and with that the show was moved to a larger venue in advance. No sooner had Ne Obliviscaris taken to the stage had they the audience won over. Within the first thirty seconds of their performance the energy from both the band and crowd was nothing short of electric. With a willing audience ready to give themselves and everything they had, Ne Obliviscaris gave nothing less in return.
Comprised of two vocalists, both frontmen lived on the edge of the stage and, with no barriers to divide, in the hands of their fans. Xen delivered his own brand of soaring vocals while co-vocalist and violin player Tim Charles (a man well on his way to owning the title of “nicest guy in metal”) charmed the crowd with his naturally welcoming manner and cited that this particular show, barely half over at this point, had been the best of the tour to date. When asked if NeO should return to Dublin the crowd collectively let the band know they were welcome back any time. One gentleman in particular bellowed “You bloody better!”. To be fair, we were all thinking it.
The band delivered a generous set list from their catalogue including “Pyrrhic”, “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope”, “Painters of the Tempest” and much more. One of many standout moments of the night came when the band introduced a song they had not yet played on the tour but would especially for this audience. “Forget Not” transformed the room into something words do no justice describing. The performance of this song touched the multi generational crowd in different ways with young, long haired headbangers fanning those behind, a mosh pit at its finest, one woman who can only be described as literally channeling the song through her every move and it all was topped off with two older gentleman in the corner performing their finest Irish dances. All this and more filled the room for the entire duration of NeO‘s set and as the band came to the end of their show, passing smiling glances from member to member was evidence enough that their first show in Ireland was a triumph.
Dublin expects greatness from those who come to perform, and so it should. While most countries see bands for several dates across their rock and individual cities at least twice a year in most cases, Dublin is a city lucky to see its favourite artists once every two years. If this city is going to give its all to an artist, it expects all the artist has to give back, too. Ne Obliviscaris not only understood this, they delivered and excelled. Musically the set was as crushing as it was beautiful (and the occasional Irish jig on the fiddle thrown in for good measure) with a performance to match that cannot be flawed. This band take the weight of the world upon themselves to deliver what many no longer can or choose not to. If this show is coming to a city near you do yourself a favour, avoid the arena and go! Otherwise you might just miss something you will regret not being part of.