There probably hasn’t been an occasion where an artist from Norway has performed on Australian shores on the day that their album releases, let alone as part of their first performance in the country, and if nothing else that made Ihsahn’s recent show in Brisbane at Crowbar that little bit more special.
Before Ihsahn took the stage, Siberian Hell Sounds opened the evening to the relatively small crowd that had entered the venue early enough. The band put on a great performance musically, with their sound really taking off on the back of their barrelling drum rhythms and heavily distorted guitar, but visually the performance on a whole just felt slightly lacking and felt more like a ‘jam’ session than performing to a crowd. The vocalist and the drummer did good jobs working the crowd, but that was about it, and while the visual aspect might have been lacking from the performance the problem more than likely stemmed from the relatively small size of the stage restricting the bands ability to perform.
Two songs for a set doesn’t seem like long enough to capture an audience, but it was all that second act for the evening Hope Drone needed. Adding some ambient character to the evening, the bands instrumental-esque take on black metal gathered a sizeable crowd. and rightly so because the band were captivating on stage. Taking what seemed like a very ‘early’ sounding Black metal that was ferocious in intensity, and modernising it seemed to be a winning formula for these guys and coupled with their stage presence it made them a very strong act for the evening.
Taking the stage for the first time on Australian soil, Ihsahn emerged accompanied by his backing band to raucous cheers. Commencing their set with new track “Lend Me The Eyes of Millenia”, the band instantly carved out an eerily creepy atmosphere through the analogue synthesizer lead on the track.
Given the chance to interact with the crowd at the end of the first song, and celebrating the release of his latest album ‘Àmr’, Ihsahn asked that the Brisbane crowd join him in commemorating the evening as an ‘Album release party’, and the crowd faithfully obliged with movement as the band dived into Arcana Imperii.
Ihsahn himself put on a stellar performance, and with the exception of only a few minor feedback issues during the opening two songs, the performance as a whole was impeccable. There was nothing that felt overly rehearsed or ‘put on’ for show, and the entire performance felt genuine. The remaining members of Ihsahn’s band all performed incredibly well too.
The setlist covered the breadth of Ihsahn’s career with an obvious focus on the new album, including a brief foray into his time in Emperor, proving to be a comprehensive set for the crowd and worthy of heralding in his first performance on Australian soil. While it might have only stretched for a little over an hour, there was still plenty on offer for new and old fans of Ihsahn alike
While it may have taken almost 30 years for Ihsahn to have made his way to Australian shores in some capacity, the Brisbane crowd proved that there is always going to be strong following for him in Australia. There are probably fewer nights that are more memorable for an artist than performing in a new location for the very first time, and when you couple up the success of the night’s performance with the release of a new album you can almost guarantee that this night would be one that Ihsahn won’t forget for some time to come. Judging by the reaction of the Brisbane crowd, it’s one that they won’t be forgetting any time soon either.