24th May 2016
Fans of Havard Ellefsen's Mortiis project don't get the chance to see them play live very often. The latest album from the Norwegian dark metallers, 'The Great Deceiver', is their first for six years so Audio is packed and a hot and sweaty place in anticipation of a rare opportunity.
This was my first chance to catch them live myself and given the deep and dark nature of their material and the serious tone in Ellefsen's interviews I was expecting a brooding, heavy vibe from the show. That's not quite what I got though.
Playing the gig as a three piece with Levi Gawron on guitar and Tim van Horn on drums augmented by samples, the enigmatic singer bounded onto the stage like a demonic imp. He couldn't stand still for a second and skittered around the stage in his bare feet spitting out all those stories of darkness and the devil with great enthusiasm. How much his attitude and stage attire was down to the airline losing their luggage en route to the first gig in Newcastle the previous night I'm not sure.
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Musically the balance of the sound where I was standing focussed more on the live instruments than the samples and I was particularly impressed with van Horn on the drums. He showed fantastic skill, energy and imagination matched with a huge amount of intensity to drive everything along.
The first part of the set was all high energy stuff with lots of the rockabilly style beats and the kind of big riffs you would expect. The vocals were less raw than on album and I have to say didn't have the menacing air I might have expected. There was little communication between songs, just shouts of "Hey Glasgow" and some muttered comments but no one around me cared. They hadn't come for that kind of show, they really just wanted to hear the man's songs.
Things slowed down in the middle of the set for a couple of tunes but soon the breather was over and things accelerated towards the end. Much of the crowd seemed to have been waiting for 'Parasite God' and I could hear them singing along over the music. New song 'Demons Are Back' was chosen to finish the main set and by this time the huge industrial grooves the band were creating were really cranking up the atmosphere.
Alas, there was only a short, intense encore then as the words "That's It!" were projected onto the backdrop, it was all over.
For my personal tastes the presentation lacked a bit of something tonight. There was neither much communication from the stage nor any huge gravitas to make you really get the weight of the material but that didn't seem to bother those around me. They had just come to see Mortiis do what they do and they certainly weren't disappointed.
I just would have liked the intensity of the last three or four songs to carry on for a bit longer.