Moonspell arrived in London at a bad time, right at the end of the biggest influx of gigs we have experienced for some time and with the festive season about to hit full swing, yet still they managed to pack out the Underworld, not just on the Monday night but on the Tuesday as well.
The Portuguese Gothic rockers were in town to play two shows, one dedicated to their debut album, 'Wolfheart', and the other given over to second album, 'Irrelegious'. Billed as 'The Night Of The Wolf' and 'Irrelegious XX Years, plus whatever comes', Moonspell flexed their musical muscles and showed just why they are the leading exponents of atmospheric Goth Metal by undertaking this 'double dare' and emerging triumphant.
Before the Monday night performance, Ash Phoenix of MetalTalk spoke with drummer and founder member Mike Gaspar about the next Moonspell album, the band's inspirations, life in the band and on the road and what is his favourite ice cream. Here's the conversation in full.
It wasn't your usual atmosphere in the Underworld but if you are familiar with the 'Wolfheart' album you will know exactly why. This is a deep and melancholic piece of work, full of dark subtleties and devoid of the Hollywood airbrushed and romanticised vampyrism that is all too prevalent on the big screen.
In terms of atmosphere, this is how it was when Vlad and his counterparts roamed the earth; not a frilly collar in sight, just darkness tinged with fright and an unnerving feeling that whatever was to step out of the shadows next was probably not on your side.
'Wolfheart' has most definitely stood the test of time since it's 1995 release and that's probably because it encompasses all the light, shade and darkness you would expect from an opus that was represented in the form of an official stamp issued by the Portuguese Postal Service as part of a collection that represented the most significant rock moments and records from Portugal.
Bela Lugosi might be long dead but his true spirit lives on in 'Wolfheart' whch is fully representative of an age that has inspired countless protagonists of Gothic imagery. Some fall short but Moonspell bring it right to your front doorstep with not a cardboard Hammer horror style backdrop in sight.
Even the instrumental 'Lua d'Inverno' works well tonight, as well as 'Trebaruna' and 'Ataegina', which are sung in the band's native Portuguese, and vocalist Fernando Ribeiro is on fire here, giving it a full bloodied performance as he stakes a claim and casts a dark shadow over London.
'An Erotic Alchemy', inspired by and quoting Marquis de Sade, and 'Alma Mate' round things off before a set of encores from latter day albums keep the crowd in raptures and provide an interesting and noteworthy comparison between older and modern day Moonspell songs. It all works so, so well and it's a happy crowd who wander into the night knowing there is more to come tomorrow.
As well as 'Wolfheart' being a masterpiece that has not dated, 'Irrelegious' is an epic body of work that stands side by side with it's predecessor and as the Gregorian overtoned intro of 'Perverse... Almost Religious' pumps out, few in the crowd are under any illusions and know they are in for a heavy, heavy treat tonight.
Fernando is in full swing again and the Count of the Underworld delivers a superb performance with his colleagues pushing him all the way as Moonspell prove they are very far from undead.
Gasps from a spellbound audience ring out as the Portuguese blast through 'Awake!' then deliver a full-on 'For A Taste Of Eternity' which keeps the suspense at full power while 'Raven Claws' simply impales and implores.
'Full Moon Madness' is saved for the encore, as it was last night, along with 'Night Eternal', the title track of Moonspell's ninth studio album. These were two eternal nights full of Gothic intrigue as Moonspell contrived to awaken the dead with a sound befitting labyrinthic passages with light and dark interplay interspersed with shades of grey and blood-red. Superlative.
Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)
...Of Dream And Drama (Midnight Ride)
An Erotic Alchemy
Breathe (Until We Are No More)
Full Moon Madness
Intro: Perverse... Almost Religious
For A Taste Of Eternity
Ruin & Misery
A Poisoned Gift
Em Nome Do Medo
Full Moon Madness