Ancient York for the duration of the Jorvik Viking Festival where wandering around the streets with a variety of weapons easily to hand is the norm. I mean seriously, how metal is that? Irresistible isn’t it? So with Northern Extremity Promotions organising the two day Runagaderung, we at Ave Noctum didnt. (Review coming over next couple of days)

Firstly though on 21/02/19 there was the little matter of an unexpected invite to The Jorvik Takeover at the up market Barbican (thanks again to Ross for organising this). It’s an unexpected venue, not one used to hundreds of metalheads tripping through its doors and despite very helpful and polite staff it showed. Anyway after tearing ourselves away from the terrible vision of posters advertising Chris De Burgh and…a Coldplay covers band (?!!) clutching our free t-shirts (thank you Descended From Odin, event sponsors, for giving one to every ticket holder!) we wandered in to the large auditorium called by the sound of the bodhran.

As I’d done not one jot of research I was somewhat surprised to be faced by Sean Parry and two helping musicians. Even more surprised that he was singing as I only knew him through following his Sacred Knot tattoo business on Instagram (get me and being all social media huh?). The really weird thing is Sean himself seemed surprised to be singing too (which I never got to the bottom of). Regardless it was a wonderfully warm set of rhythmic based folk, semi improvised at times, with Mr Parry’s rich and slightly gravelly voice leading. He talked us through a little history of the tunes, introduced his horse skull instrument and really welcomed us to the evening and got a deservedly warm reception.

Next up came Nytt Land. I Knew of the Siberian duo but had heard not a note before. It was a beautiful way to be introduced. With the tall figure of Anatoly Pahalenko seated, head wrapped in a cloth that gave him the aspect of Odin, and the fur clad, painted Natalya Pahalenko a slight but utterly compelling figure standing stage center behind her drum, they wove their shamanic, trance like music into the air. Tribal chanting, throat singing and Natalya’s beautiful, powerful voice made me stand rooted for the entire set, hairs prickly on my arms and just spiritually moved by their campfire warm, otherworldly magic. The early collaboration with two superb fire dancers, I think from Zaffire Pheonix was just perfect. A wonderful, fantastic and genuinely moving set got a superb response from the audience.

Finally came Myrkur doing an acoustic set in keeping with the festival. With a huge stage to play with, the grand piano was easy to place between the two lovely choral singers and the seated trio of musicians (including to my unprepared self’s surprise the magnificent Jo Quail). I have to confess that whilst I have huge respect for Amelie Bruun as both a musician and an intelligent and resilient person I often find her music a little unmoving. However I enjoyed her the last time I saw her live doing the black metal and so I did again with this acoustic set. She has a fine, ethereal voice and presence and seeing her so clearly impassioned to be collaborating with such great musicians was really warming. My highlight was without a doubt the duet with just Jo Quail and the perfect musical communication between the two artists. A great memory.

It was a shame that £45ish ticket prices, whoever set them, clearly put off a lot of people and seemingly any simply curious Jorvik festival attendees too as the audience was 95% metalheads. The odd seating choice added to this causing a huge gap behind those standing, and in front of those seated, making it look far less well attended than it actually was though it was hardly a sell out. CD prices seemed to be hiked too (£20?) It was also a bit schoolyard being told we had to stand behind a painted white line too (yes they did enforce it…). Oh and no photos because no photo permission was given on the grounds they had no guest passes left, despite the photographer pointing out they actually already had a paid for ticket. Sorry. As I say, work to do Barbican if you want to attract some metal shows. Which you probably don’t.

Regardless, all in all a great evening. Nytt Land however stole away with my soul.

(Review Giz)