MoonTourA good hint to bands going on tour, take Insomnium as support. It worked for Dark Tranquillity last time at this venue and did so tonight for Moonspell with both shows selling out. It was nice just having the two touring bands on the bill tonight as it gave them both plenty of time to play and naturally by the time the Finns took the stage the joint was rammed. They got a massive welcoming cheer and the crowd throughout the night were in fine voice giving it out large between each and every song. Insomnium spread their brand of atmospheric doom into each and every nook and cranny of the venue with the opening bars of ‘Inertia’ literally glistening and like the title suggests bolstering the band into action. The doom gives way to the death and the two combine as singer bassist Niilo Sevänen unleashes his roar and the band literally hammer away with him. It bit hard and fiercely as the trio at front of stage went into some hair-twirling histrionics in time with the music. The downtime was appreciated as some sparkling, lush and meandering guitar work weaved its spell.  This was top quality Finnish musicianship and songs like Down With The Sun were perfect from the land of the midnight sun. When the group get into the meaty twin guitar harmonies it really is good to watch ‘Through The Shadows’ unravelled with dextrous precision and with the fantastic harmonic chorus it was one that really had fists pumping down the front. The full chugging neck crack of ‘Weather The Storm’ hit like a hurricane and by the time they finished off with the much more gloomy tones of ‘One For Sorrow’ I already felt spent and like I had just seen a headline performance.

Of course Moonspell were still to come and again we had to acknowledge that it has been some time as we traded past war stories about seeing them through the years from the first Devils Church George Robey show through to the fantastic visual overload they gave supporting Type O Negative (RIP) and more recently playing with Cradle Of Filth, Septic Flesh and Gorgoroth. First thoughts as the band took to the stage and started hammering away with new song ‘Axis Mundi’ was “what the hell are you wearing Fernando you lemon, you are not in a power metal band.” Well whatever he was thinking it proved that he has a sense of humour or perhaps he was reminding us that we should not only think of Greeks and Romans when it came to ancient battles, here we had a real Portuguese Man Of War. It also has to be said that sometimes it is easy to forget that Moonspell can be savage and unrelentingly violent, sure they went through that frilly stage but the first few numbers were simply brutal, more so even than on CD. The new stuff sounded like it was on fire and when they moved back to ‘Memorial’ era for me a real tour de force of an album and furiously ploughed into ‘Finisterra’ they literally flattened the place, drummer and founding member Miguel Gasper giving the kit a real hammering, I was going to have to do my best and get a picture of him. Having said that it was naturally a very difficult task but the audience were lovely and polite allowing us to get some shots and thankfully Fernando had dispatched of his helmet.

There was much head banging, foot stomping and a sea of fists in the air and to say that the band had the crowd pumped throughout the set would be an understatement. We were taken through ‘Night Eternal’ and caught the heady waft of ‘Opium’ as we went through the albums and we got time to sway along to the more calmer Gothic tones of ‘Abysmo’ as we were taken into ‘Sin Pecado.’ I forgot just how good some of the songs aired tonight were and the excellent ‘Scorpion Flower’ was one of them, a slow burner that is infectious and with the (unfortunately sampled) Anneke van Giersbergen vocals quite beautiful. We were waiting for the bite of the wolf but before we got the old ones we had the new in the form of ‘Lickanthrope’ proving that the band can still howl as good as they did back in the day. Eventually we were rewarded by more than just the one old fanged Nemesis with ‘Vampiria’ sinking its teeth well and truly in. That really did take me back. We got pretty much everything we could have wanted from there on ‘An Erotic Alchemy’ and ‘Alma Mater’ and naturally in the encore ‘Wolfshade’ really delivering the goods. The theatricality and Grand-Guignol excess of the flamboyant performance was not lost and Fernando looked like he was loving singing these songs, which was great as so many bands become tired of doing such old stuff and find it a chore. My pen run out, my note pad run out my beer run out but I was revelling in the’ Full Moon Madness’ in front of me before falling out into the welcoming fresh air and battling the wolves of the city to get home, no staying off the moors around Camden Town. Another welcome return!

Review and Photos © Pete Woods