Swallow the Sun released their seventh studio album When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light at the end of January. They played the second show of their album tour at Apollo Nightclub in Turku, Finland with The Man-Eating Tree as support. I was also able to catch up with Mikko Kotamäki and Jaani Peuhu, so check out the interview too!
The Man-Eating Tree began their set under a layer of smoke. The audience was still filing in from the line outside, so there was a bit of disturbance from the crowd. I was also surprised there weren’t as many people there to see The Man-Eating Tree as I expected (remembering almost packed venues from previous shows in Turku). Half way through the set, however, people got settled and some of those closer to the stage got really into the show. The band had great energy and atmosphere, for what they were able to work with. The stage was a bit cramped for them, with two drum kits and other equipment set up for Swallow the Sun, which kind of spread the band out and forced them to stay in their respective corners of the stage. Although it hindered their ability to move and interact, they still provided the perfect vibe for the evening to come.
I was in mid-conversation with a friend, when the first horns of “Lumina Aurea” sounded through the amplifiers. We both went silent and just stared at each other. I was not prepared for that to be the intro, since its such a heavy, dark song full of depth and meaning, both personal and abstract. Even without personal relevance, the song itself is so powerful…to have it in its entirety as the intro track for the gig set an inexplicable mood…to those who were listening at least. Many in the crowd around us were still talking (quite loudly) over the music, but I followed my friends idea to use other senses to experience the music. Putting our hands on the stage, leaning against the wall, feeling the bass of the 14 minute epic tremor through my bones and trying to cancel out the other noise. If you were paying attention, it set quite an immense atmosphere for the rest of the gig.
They began with the title track off the new album “When A Shadow is Forced Into The Light”. It seemed for the first few songs, Juha’s guitars were much louder than the rest, but at times it fit the song. Specifically the second song “Lost and Catatonic”. Straight after that, “Cathedral Walls”. Both older songs hold special meaning to me, and I’ve seen them performed live before but this time it seemed the guys were really feeling it. I’m not sure if it was the new lineup,or the music or what but this performance really stood out compared to the others I’ve seen. I want to say rejuvenated but I’m not sure if that would properly describe the new energy. Mikko’s vocals were spot on and held a passion I couldn’t remember hearing before (though I might be biased due to my own growing passion for the new album). The addition of Jaani’s vocals (like I mentioned in the album review) compliment Mikko and the music so well, and that was no different live. Specially during songs like “Upon the Water” and “Stone Wings”. Juha’s energy was also impossible to overlook. Specially towards the end during the older songs, his emotion was raw and tangible, entrancing. I felt a bit creepy after a while when I noticed my focus had solely been on him for two songs in a row, but it was like I was sucked in, like I could almost feel what his energy was portraying.
When they started playing “New Moon” the atmosphere in the audience changed, like everyone was finally on the same wavelength and conjured an uplifting feeling of appreciation and togetherness. “The Giant” followed and continued on with this feeling, it seemed to be the crowd favorite which was a bit surprising to me. Toward the end of the song the band had a short discussion about the fact that they could not exit the stage properly for an encore and informed the audience they would skip the “leave the stage” part of the show which prompted chants of “we want more” and “one more song” from the audience as the band stood on stage suppressing smiles (yes smiles, I swear I even saw Juha smile at least once!). They continued with older songs not often played such as “Emerald Forest and the Blackbird”, “Deadly Nightshade” an “Swallow (Horror pt.1)”. They slunk back into the shadows and smoke and disappeared from the stage. I wanted more.
Overall, the band and the crowds energy were much more in sync than previous gigs. The band had a new energy ( not unlike the music from the new album) the new lineup worked flawlessly live, and seeing the new songs performed live took them to a whole new level (including hearing “Lumina Aurea” on such a larger scale). The audience was much more active than I expected, moving even during the slower more melancholic songs, and although it took a few songs, seemed to be engulfed by the music as completely as I was. I’m interested to see how this will come off in an atmosphere different form the intimate club setting… as a longer tour, as a festival show…. we shall see.
The Man-Eating Tree
Swallow the Sun
Intro – Lumina Aurea
1. When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light
2. Lost & Catatonic
3. Cathedral Walls
5. Upon The Water
6. Stone Wings
7. New Moon
8. The Giant
9. Emerald Forest and the Blackbird
10. Deadly Nightshade
11. Hold This Woe
12. Swallow (Horror Pt. 1)
Report and photos by Serena Solomon