Dark Tranquillity: Live Review
By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal
June 1st 2010, Key Club, Hollywood CA: I knew that tonight was going to be a great one for me, because after all it was the first time in six months I got a chance to see a show at my beloved Key Club, a venue I used to come to very frequently last year and really got used to the atmosphere inside it. I saw as many as 17 shows here over the course of year 2009. Unfortunately they got closed down temporarily and didn't really open their doors to metal shows until now. As great as it was to be back, to make this a memorable experience the show itself needed to be a good one, and my goodness, it really was.
I got to the venue at 5 o' clock, a few minutes before my scheduled interview with Mutiny Within's Chris Clancy. We ended up doing it at the Rainbow. All members of the band were chilling out when we got there for the interview. Bassist AJ said hello and thanked me for the previous interview we had done with him, congratulating me on having done a great job on it. It's always good to hear praise, but it means a lot when it comes from the interviewees themselves. Chris was particularly amused to learn from me that I interviewed Dave Lombardo at the same location, with Dave in the exact same seat he was sitting in.
The interview went perfectly well. We parted ways almost immediately because it was a hectic schedule for me with the Dark Tranquillity interview at 6 and Threat Signal straight after. Although I had already interviewed Mikael Stanne in March, I felt nervous during this one. I'm sure the main reason was that I am a bigger Dark Tranquillity fan now than I was in March, all due to the latest album that came out the same month. But, I still managed to pull it together and yet again, it was an immense pleasure doing this interview. We did hang out for a bit in the tour bus after this though, after all who's going to say no to drinking beer with Mikael Stanne of Dark Tranquillity?
We did the interview with vocalist Jon and bassist Pat from Threat Signal just outside the back door of the venue. This was definitely the most fun and light-hearted interview of the three and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Inspite of these great interviews, I had to deal with certain issues that were making me angrier by the minute. So, other than for the fact that I am a huge fan of the headliner, when the doors opened at 8 o' clock and I grabbed my spot in the centre of the front row, I had more than one incentive to do some serious rocking out tonight, to let out all the demons, let go of all the frustration and have a good time of it.
Absolutely nothing had changed in the club. It was the same as I remember it from last November. A band called Oblivion kicked off the night with a 30-minute set. They really impressed me with their music, specially the guitar riffs and solos. But I doubt too many people even got to see their set because normally on a weekday show like this, most people show up late at the venue. The vocalist told us that due to copyright issues, they were not being allowed to keep their name and would be changing it to Voices Of Ruin. They managed to deliver a very good performance as the opener and warmed up the crowd rather nicely. Watch out for Voices Of Ruin in the near future, for they surely are heading in a good musical direction.
Mutiny Within from New Jersey were next to hit the stage. They played more or less the same set of songs they did on their previous tour with Sonata Arctica. Their music in itself is pretty impressive for a new band, but the crowd response really depends on the kind of music the headliner plays. On this occasion I felt their music had the melodic elements that Dark Tranquillity have, but not the death metal part of it. As a result, the reaction from the crowd wasn't all that great, and not many were getting involved into the music. Nevertheless, the guys were tight with their performance and looked like they were really enjoying opening for a band they've cited as one of their major influences. It will be interesting to see what they can offer on their upcoming tours with Soilwork, Nevermore and Epica.
Threat Signal from Ontario, Canada were up next. These guys didn't get a very good reception on their previous gig with Epica and would have expected better things here. Unfortunately it didn't turn out to be that way for them. I think it varies from city to city sometimes, and isn't necessarily a reflection on the band's quality. One particular member of the audience was flipping them off, standing in the first row. No matter what you think of the band on stage, it's a very disrespectful thing to do. If you don't like the band, go and stand at the back. It's as simple as that. Vocalist Jon pointed at that fan, told him to go to the back and let him know exactly what he felt about it by spitting beer all over him. I was with Jon there, as were a few people in the front row. But it's a good thing that the guys are getting on these tours. They'll get to judge their own music from the crowd response and can do some self-enhancement when they get back home and work on new material.
Here's their complete set list:
The wait was finally over at 11 o' clock when the lights went out and the screen atop the stage lit up. This was used to show the animation and graphics designed by lead guitarist Niklas Sundin, adding an extra dimension to the already face-melting live performance. Dark Tranquillity blasted onto the stage with 'At The Point Of Ignition', song off of the latest album 'We Are The Void'. They pulled out all the stops to promote the album through this tour, and I have to say they definitely succeeded in their effort. Another new song 'The Fatalist' followed the opening number and the crowd was ecstatic. The absence of a barricade at this venue always makes for intimate and in-your-face kind of shows. This was no different. Mikael made full use of the opportunity to mingle with adoring fans in the front. It was more than just eye contact. We were singing the words with him, into his microphone.
They went back to the previous album Fiction to play 'Focus Shift', not letting up on the intensity even one bit. The chorus was being sung louder on this one, understandably so. It was a song fans were more familiar with. The fans' level of delight was about to rise much further as they went ten years back with the next song 'The Wonders At Your Feet'. This served as a slight speed breaker but it only meant that we could take a breather and get ready for 'Final Resistance', which was to follow. This was the most furious song of the night and one of the most enjoyable. The Fiction album was well represented tonight, that's for sure. 'Misery's Crown' was the second of four songs from the album to be included in the set. This was another one during which I enjoyed myself singing the chorus into Mikael's microphone.
The album I was most waiting to hear songs off of, was The Gallery, arguably their best album to date. They played 'Punish My Heaven' and it was an enthralling experience to watch from touching distance, the guitar geniuses Niklas Sundin and Martin Henriksson doing those twin guitar melodies at varying speeds within the song. It was amazing how the next song 'Iridium' was written around the same period but made it on to an album after 14 years, on the latest one. When I first heard this song, I described it as a drug. I felt the same during the live performance, and then some. The on-screen visuals during this were mesmerizing. The band certainly knew how to get the tempo changes going in the set to sweep the audience off their feet, moving straight from this song to 'Shadow In Our Blood'. This is the opening song on the new album and sets a solid foundation for the rest of the record. Here it served a similar purpose, getting the crowd more than pumped for the second half of tonight's set.
'The Lesser Faith' kept the head bangers and mosh pit going. I was actually glad that there wasn't any crowd surfing tonight. I know it's supposed to be about metal brotherhood and all that, but I can't stand crowd surfers as they ruin my experience of watching the band and enjoying the show. I've been to shows where I had to keep watching what's going on behind me more than the damn show itself. Anyway, the band played the penultimate new song for the night, 'Dream Oblivion'. I particularly enjoyed this one as it had its speed shifts that allowed me to do the slow as well as fast head banging within that four-minute duration. Man, I can't even express how much fun it is to be able to do that. The Gallery was back for one last time with 'Lethe'. Mikael asked the crowd to chant along with the guitar melodies during this one and all of us gladly obliged. This was described as a career retrospective set list, and it certainly lived up to that, as the next two songs were 'Lost To Apathy' and 'There In', from the albums Character and Projector respectively.
Usually at every show, no matter what band it is and how much you love them, there is always that song. The song that you hate, thinking, 'Oh God, why do they play this shit? When will it get over?' The funny thing is, I never felt that tonight, not even once. I think it was because as I said, it was a career spanning set list and if you're a fan, you can't really find anything to hate or complain about. We had reached the last part of the show, with the songs 'Grandest Accusation' and 'Terminus'. The former was every bit as good as I had imagined it to be, and I literally went nuts during Terminus. Songs like this make me a proud Dark Tranquillity fan. I didn't care even as my head was hitting the stage on one occasion and my friend on another. This was the last chance to enjoy a live song by them for the whole of this year. A hard-hitting show ended on a hammering note.
Overall, the band's performance was nothing short of breathtaking and members of the crowd were in great voice tonight. Dark Tranquillity take a bow, and Key Club, I missed you!
Check out Dark Tranquillity's official website.
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