French blackgaze pioneers Alcest visits Norway for the sixth time this evening.
They are joined by co-headliner MONO and support pg.lost. This reviewer gets there just as Alcest starts with Onyx as an intro, which is actually the outro from their latest release, Kodama (2016). This is not surprisingly the album they will focus on this evening – out of the six tracks on the release, five is part of the set, Untouched being the one left out.
The gig is sold out, and the venue rooms 500 people this evening. This reviewer notes that the audience are unusually silent in-between songs. As soon as the cheer dies down, one could probably hear a needle drop. One has to admit that this is to be preferred above loud chatter concerning what someone had for dinner last week – one has the feeling that people are actually listening to, and enjoying, the band.
The sound is clear and pleasant to the ear, and the band itself is definitely a well-oiled machinery. As a studio band, Alcest consists only of singer/guitarist/songwriter Neige, and drummer Winterhalter. On stage however, they are joined by longtime live musicians Indria and Zero, and one can certainly hear that the guys have been playing together for quite a few years.
Frontman Neige shows off his screeching quite a bit this evening, which is pleasant considering the complete lack of such vocals on Shelter (2014), the album previous to Kodama. One would worry that the band was drifting too far away from their metal foundations; for this reviewer, the mix of the melodic and ethereal vs. the harsh vocals and double bassdrums is what make this outfit so seducing. With Kodama, the band does a bit of a u-turn, and sounds more like they used to, as opposed to evolving even farther away from their previous sound.
This reviewer’s favorite Alcest album is Les Voyages de L’âme (2012), so the highlight of the evening is definitely the one track they play off of this album – Autre Temps. This reviewer is also rather smitten by the title track off of Kodama, which begin the set, as well as Oiseaux de Proie, also a new song. Percées de Lumière has been a staple at Alcest’s gigs ever since the release in 2009, and this piece seems to be the highlight for most of the audience. The otherwise quiet crowd start cheering right as the intro riff fills the venue. In short, one has to admit that goosebumps are present at many points during the evening.
If one were to have any complaints, it would be the length of the set. They play for roughly one hour and 15 minutes, so it would not have hurt to have a couple of encore songs to close the evening. However, as the band announces towards the end of the set, this outfit does not do encores, and we are left to enjoy the song which has been the mandatory finale to most, if not all, of Alcest’s gigs since the release of Shelter – their eminent and otherworldly Délivrance.
This reviewer had previously seen the band three times – this might very well be the gig one has enjoyed the most. The sound is crisp, the band is tight and the setlist is excellent, particularly for anyone who enjoys their latest release. This reviewer is more than eager to see the band on stage again!
Je suis d’ailleurs
Écailles de Lune – Part 1
Oiseaux de Proie
L’eveil des Muses
Percées de Lumière
Review by O.
Photo by U.