When you think of band’s that have had a long and illustrious career spanning two decades you would automatically assume that they are seasoned headliners in most of the world – but that’s not the case for Katatonia. Often touted as one of the progenitors of doom metal, the band has since found a more comfortable sound based in a darker, melancholic and more progressive influence. On their third journey to the ‘Land Down Under’ the band finally gets to play their very first headline shows in support of their 10th album, ‘The Fall of Hearts’, with the run beginning last night at The Triffid in Brisbane.
Beginning the night were Kodiak Empire and they were a good choice to open the night. The opening portion of their set was enjoyable, it was very progressive, flowed well and seemed polished. But the latter end of their set saw the band performing a contrastingly different sound to what they started with and it just seemed out of place, particularly their final song. I would have liked to have seen a bit more energy up on stage, as the band seemed pretty reserved, but all things considered it was a good way to start the nights proceedings off.
Hazards of Swimming Naked who followed were everything you would expect for a Katatonia support. Ambient, melodic, moving, but most importantly, it was engaging – and that’s not something that many instrumental bands can boast. The triple guitars were used to such a degree that you couldn’t honestly tell if there was a ‘lead’ guitarist as each player had their moment, and their was just an energy that kept you focused on stage. As a band I had never heard of before, I now want to go and check out more of their material.
In what would perhaps be one of the most telling predictions ever of what was about to come, it started raining just before Katatonia took to the stage. This is obviously a recurring theme for the band as bassist Niklas Sandin alluded to in some pre-tour interviews but nonetheless, it definitely helped set the tone for the upcoming set with the gentle sound of the rain hitting the rooftop of the venue.
Walking out to what had now become a packed out venue, Katatonia received the raucous reception that they deserved. With a career spanning 20 years and now 10 albums, it’s truly remarkable that they are only here for their third time ever, and their first ever headline tour. Now, normally I would have a ton to say about a show like tonight – but honestly, if you were at any point present in the room then you would know that there isn’t much that can be said. Musically, the set was flawless, with the melancholic guitars resounding perfectly in the small confines of the venue. There was a sense of grandiosity in the way that these songs came across during the performance, and that’s exactly how the band intends them to be seen and heard.
Visually Katatonia seem to have the perfect stage set-up with the drum kit nestled into the back, guitarists either end of stage, and the remaining members in the middle. This works so well for them as the band doesn’t need to move much when playing to get that emotive response, and with the exception of motions towards the crowd to cheer or clap, that’s exactly how the show played out. It doesn’t detract from the experience though as it really is the bands music that does most of the talking.
The setlist catered for fans of the older material, while keeping a massive focus on the latest album, and at a whopping 19 songs (16 songs + 3 encore), there was an absolute bucket load of content for the fans to swallow. With a set that ran two hours with very minimal interruptions, Katatonia finally got the headline performance in Australia that they deserved.
It has taken 20 years for the band to make it down for their first headline tour – and hopefully the reception that they received from the fans in their first ever headline show of the country is enough to let them know that Katatonia will always have a place in the heart of Australians and that they shouldn’t leave it so long before they return.