GIG REVIEW: Omnium Gatherum, Orpheus Omega, Valhalore & Darklore Live at Crowbar, Brisbane
Touring Australia for the first time is a feat that many bands wait decades for, with some never getting the chance. Well, it might have taken two decades but Finland’s Omnium Gatherum have finally made their Down Under debut earlier this week. Performing in Brisbane’s Crowbar this past Saturday, the band put on one of the best live performances ever witnessed. Supported by Orpheus Omega, Valhalore and Darklore, their first appearance in Brisbane is a night that many will never forget.
Darklore opened the billing and put on a very good performance to kick start the night. Surprisingly, there were a ton of people around early to catch their set, which was good to see so early in the evening. The quintet were tight, and while their black metal styled sound seemed like a pretty interesting fit for the show, it worked incredibly well. It was a shame they only had a 30-minute set, as it seemed to be hitting some great strides as they had to wrap it up, but all in all, it was a great start to the evening.
Local heroes Valhalore were second, and the folk metal troupe performed what would be considered a standard performance on their home town soil these days. There was fervent moshing, a jig pit, and their own take on a wall of death (the shield wall). Naturally, the crowd loved every minute of their set and throwing in a cover of Amon Amarth’s ‘Raise Your Horns’ only helped reinforce that crowd enjoyment further. Performance wise the band was tight as always, and they continue to be a pleasure to watch. There was however one key blemish on their set as a whole, and that was the prevalence of a click track during a break in ‘Malice of Illusion’. It was only present for about 10 seconds, but it was enough to notice. Apart from that minor misstep, it was very difficult to fault the band, and the crowd’s cheers at the end of the set seemed to reaffirm the sentiment that they would have had the same impact if they had of performed for an extra hour.
Melbourne’s Orpheus Omega were the penultimate act for the evening, touring in support of their latest album Wear Your Sins. Although they were a man down on stage, the band put on one of their best performances ever in Brisbane. Frontman Chris Themelco seems to be growing massively as an entertainer, with his performance this time feeling more authentic than previous occasions. His enthusiasm on stage also seems to be reverberating with the other members and bolstering their performance in turn. Audibly, the band was very tight, although the lack of a second guitar on stage did lessen their impact in the live setting. However, while the band was afforded much more space on stage than the preceding acts they managed to use it well, often sharing microphones and constantly moving around the empty space. Track-wise the band played several tracks off their newest album, all of which garnered a great response, but they also performed a selection of old slices and set staples that always perform well. The crowd enjoyed every moment their set, and the wall of death to close out the set had bodies flying around the room.
After a quick final changeover, Omnium Gatherum took to the stage and reinvented what it was to be a live-performing band. Where the other bands were respectable warm-ups, Omnium Gatherum took every trick in the book and elevated it to the next level. While there can be no denying that the band has had years of refining their performance, there was an aspect to their set that saw every minute that they were on stage as a sheer rollercoaster of excitement between the band and fans.
Vocalist Jukka Pelkonen was easily the unstoppable force for the evening. Whereas many singers feed energy to the crowd and have the crowd reciprocate it back to them, Pelkonen somehow fed that heightened energy back to the crowd, in a process that slowly escalated the relationship between band and fans. This endless cycle resulted in a growing convergence of energy which was remarkable to watch throughout the evening and became the cornerstone for Omnium Gatherum’s performance.
The dual guitar combo of Markus Vanhala and Joonas Koto were as proficiently tight as you can be performing fast-paced melodic death metal. Their back and forth on the stage might not have been as active as some of the earlier bands, but it had an air of elegance to it that was missing from their predecessors. The guitarists also fed off the energy of the front row too, another trait adopted by stand-in bassist Pyry Hanski, who might not be a permanent member of the band, but certainly, fit in on stage like he has been with them for years. It was, however, a shame with how deep the Crowbar stage is that it was quite difficult to see Tuomo Latvala and Aapo Koivisto who were obscured up the back by the lighting and smoke, but their presence was definitely felt through their music.
Notwithstanding the visibility issues, Omnium Gatherum’s sound and lighting was impressive. The mix was very well balanced, but their energy and performance were so electric that they could realistically have been playing at half strength and still would have had the venue in the palm of their hands. Song wise, the band managed to not only sample a collection of classics from earlier albums, but also retain a focus on their newer material. The spread was enough to satiate older fans, while also acknowledging the strength of their latest album. Perhaps the only downside to the band’s performance was that it had to end and that more songs couldn’t be added to the set as everyone in the venue seemed to be having a great time.
Omnium Gatherum‘s first appearance in Brisbane was nothing short of impressive. Flanked by some great local talent, the Finns certainly made sure that their well overdue appearance on our shores was one to remember. With the band promising that they were already looking at coming back, we can only hope that the remainder of the tour channels the great energy is seen in Brisbane to ensure that their return occurs sooner rather than later.