An Evening with Amon Amarth
The Granada, Lawrence, KS
April 16, 2011
|Review by: Tyree|
I have been
meaning to write this entry for two days but have just been too tired. This past
Saturday night my two month blitz of concert-going slammed to its epic
conclusion with a huge treat: a chance to see my Viking metal heroes Amon
Amarth. ["An Evening with Amon Amarth" - such a gentlemanly title for the
show. I felt like I should've had my top hat and coat checked at the door - ed]
Surprisingly, I've had a hard time coming up with stuff to say about this show. For one thing, Amon Amarth totally delivered from start to finish. For another, there were no opening acts. It was just Amon Amarth performing two full-length sets. But since one cannot see a band one has longed to see for years and just not talk about it, I will do my best.
Patrick and I made an uneventful drive to Lawrence, KS during which he shared with me Stryper's new album of covers of classic metal songs. We arrived at the Granada right before doors were set to open and... Wow. I think the last time I saw a crowd that big for a show there was for Type O Negative three or four years ago. Amon Amarth are a big deal apparently. This makes me happy but I don't think they'll be able to play at the Granada much longer. It just won't hold the crowd.
Despite being at the back of the line we nevertheless managed to get near the front. I am a tall gentleman and how the five people in any given hall who are taller than me always find me and decide to stand directly in front of me I will never know [at least you didn't have some 6'4" 300 lb fat bastard constantly backing into you or stepping on your tootsies - ed]. Fortunately Amon Amarth are tall fellows of Swedish descent and I had no problem seeing them. Especially vocalist Johann Hegg whose stature could impress one of the Norse deities he sings about [most likely Asatooooooor! - ed].
To my sorrow, the band did not take to the stage in a Viking longboat as they have been known to do. But then again the Granada's stage is not very deep. I mean, if it could not contain the very petite Zoe Jakes how is it going to hold an entire Viking longboat? Anyway, Amon Amarth's set consisted of their new album Surtur Rising played in its entirety. For those of you taking notes at home, Surtur is the champion of the mythical fire giants who, in a scenario eerily evocative of nuclear holocaust, is prophesied to exterminate nearly all life on earth by means of his colossal flaming sword. The massive backdrop of Surtur wielding said sword more than made up for the absence of any boats. I do not own the new album, but damn do I want it after hearing it live. Now I understand why they call themselves Amon Amarth. (You probably know it better as "Mount Doom."): Because like the fires of Mount Doom, once you encounter what Amon Amarth produces, you wants it. It is the precious.
The second set consisted of songs spanning Amon Amarth's twenty year career. They rocked the anthems like "Twilight of the Thunder God" and "Death and Fire" and soothed us with ballads like "A Thousand Years of Oppression" and "Cry of the Black Birds." Keep in mind that their ballads are heavier than most bands' heavy songs. I just... wow. I really need to say that Amon Amarth have the best sound techs/sound set-up out there right now. It's one of the few shows where I could hear every note that was played clearly. And Johann Hegg joked at one point that it's okay to sing along even if you don't know the lyrics because no one can understand death metal lyrics anyway. But I actually did understand damn near every word he said. Then again, he does enunciate better than most death metal vocalists. As a musician I was totally absorbed by everything I saw and heard in their playing. They may be obsessed with scary Viking images of ransacking and raping, but musically they are true professionals.
Patrick mentioned that for a bunch of mean Vikings Amon Amarth were very jolly and happy on stage. Of course, Johann Hegg has admitted that actual Vikings probably wouldn't understand their music since all they had for instruments were flutes and bongos. So they definitely don't take themselves too seriously. This is one band that knows how to treat the crowd like friends and the crowd responded to that in a big way. They are also incredibly generous with their merchandise, selling their t-shirts for about $15 less than most bands. It was the first time I've been able to buy a band t-shirt in at least five years.
In closing I want to say how impressed I was at the diversity of the crowd. Quite a few women and older people (as in, my age or older,) in the crowd. And except for a stray flung beer can that sought me out as surely as the very tall men, the crowd was very respectful of one another. Mosh pits called time-outs long enough to help the fallen up off the floor and none of the many female crowd surfers got their lady bits grabbed or their clothing torn that I saw. It just makes me feel all kinds of good to see that the metal scene is becoming a community in the true sense rather than merely a shared affectation of a certain type of dysfunctional young male.
There are no concerts on the horizon for the foreseeable future. This may be a good thing. These aging bones need a rest [well, we did plenty of rest at that slow-ass Burger King drive-thru - ed].