Eluveitie + Rise of Avernus
Manning Bar, Sydney
20 May 2016
Review by Cameron Cooper
Photos by Sofie Marsden
Considering the announcement earlier this month that about half of the members will be leaving the band after this tour, fans could be forgiven for stepping into Eluveitie’s show with some trepidation about what was to come. Would they mention the split? Would there be any on stage awkwardness or tension? While not all the emotions in the air seemed to be positive ones, there’s one thing for certain, this was one evening with Eluveitie that was special.
Home-grown horror-show Rise of Avernus opened the gig up around 8.30, as head bangers flooded in from the gloomy night descending over Sydney. The four-piece, covered head to toe in pitch black make-up, have come a long way as a live band, refining their symphonically-charged brand of death/doom over the last few years. While at times the band’s mix of influences threatened to descend into all out chaos, a tight performance and tremendous sound mix managed to keep things reigned in. If the crowd’s reaction is anything to go by, their set was a roaring success, the band sold out of merch in what seemed moments after they left the stage.
Eluveitie’s set began with the booming, folkloric narration that seems to kick off any good folk metal show, with the octet spilling onto the stage in full-electric mode. Frontman Chrigel Glanzmann commanding the crowd from behind the mic, whistles and mandolin. However, outgoing hurdy-gurdy player and singer Anna Murphy seemed to draw the most attention, the crowd erupting with applause whenever she was featured. This was punctuated by the band’s performance of Call of The Mountains, sung in Swiss German.
About an hour into the set, the band retired from the stage, returning as a much different beast. Perched on stools with acoustics in hand, they plunged into a half-hour acoustic set, focused primarily on music from Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion, plus a spine-tingling acoustic rendition of A Rose for Epona, and a few other surprises. It was an interesting choice to place the acoustic set in the middle of the show rather than at the beginning, but the band’s energy managed to ensure no momentum was lost, bursting back on stage in electric mode to deliver some of their heaviest tunes.
A few circle pits later the band closed off the night with Inis Mona, taking a bow in their current incarnation for one of the last times. One can’t help but feel there were some moments of tension on stage between the members. The bittersweet energy swelled as the group waved goodbye to the crowd. Although the break-up went unspoken of during the set, the gravitas of the line-up shift was felt by both audience and performers. Glanzmann, bass player Kay Brem, guitarist Rafael Salzmann and piper Matteo Sisti have certainly proven themselves a formidable force in their own right. The future direction of Eluveitie – as well as the avenues their alumni now pursue – is unknown, but if this show was anything to go by, it sure as hell won’t be boring.