Wacken - 2009

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

This was the show for me at this year’s Wacken Open Air; I was really looking forward to it, both as it marked a long awaited return of the band, and especially in my case Andreas Hedlund (a.k.a. Vintersorg, Mr. V), to the stage. Borknagar has not been outside their home country of Norway since their last time here at Wacken, which was all the way back in 2002.
I saw them at that time, but admittedly only because I knew Hedlund was their singer. Later, after spending more time in the company of their music, I have come to like Borknagar much as well, and there you have the second reason; it would be great to hear and see them at a time where I would actually know the material!

To make sure I got a good spot, I had to give up a great Testament show as I walked over to the Party Stage a good 45 minutes before the band was set to go on. Although the first line was already filled up, I still got a good position from which I could listen to Jan Erik Tiwas (a.k.a. Tyr) jam on his custom 8 string bass (what a monster that is!) during the soundcheck and at the same time watch Lars A. Nedland (a.k.a. Lazare) fidgeting around with duct tape to get his equipment in position.
Borknagar are known for having housed several well renowned musicians within their ranks through the years, and the latest addition was their new drummer; David Kinkade (ex-Malevolent Creation and others). Also he popped up from time to time in the soundcheck to take a peek at the assembling crowd.

Almost an hour passed (yes, the band was a little late) and finally the time had come.
Out they came, one by one, and kicked the show of with a song from the Quintessence album, Ruins Of The Future. As Hedlund entered the stage, he had a crowd-pleasing trick up his sleeve; he threw one of the newly printed tour-shirts out into the audience. Later in the set, this would be repeated by guitarist, main composer, founder and only remaining original member Øystein G. Brun, but only after he had wiped the sweat of his brow off in the shirt he let fly.

As one could expect from a band who has been absent from an international livestage for such a long time as Borknagar has, all members looked like they were really excited to be playing together and in front of the audience. Sadly, another thing one might also expect, and which came true, was that there were some issues with sound and such.
In the start Hedlund seemed to hold back, and not until the second song, Gods Of My World, did he truly step into character as the amazing vocalist we know him to be. Smaller vocal issues remained throughout the concert, which mainly seemed to be (also later commented by Hedlund himself) caused by problems with the sound on stage; these didn’t bother me much though (honestly, at the time I hardly registered them), as his energy and vitality more than compensated for it.
The other main sound-problem I have chosen to call “Lacking Lazare”; even though I stood on the second row, and dead centre in front of the stage, his playing was completely lost to me. There was just no volume on his equipment.

Now, I know these last remarks may make it sound like there were a lot of things wrong with the concert, so I would like to clarify once and for all that any issues which arose felt minor or even insignificant (it has never been a great sound quality which have been Wacken’s trademark, if you get my meaning) as I stood there and was completely lost in the present, just taking in all the energy the band put out there, and then returned it with loud shouts and wild headbanging.

I’m not sure if it was an intentional move or not, possibly to be kind to new listeners of the band, but with the exception of two songs the entire setlist was taken from Borknagar’s anthology album For The Elements. The other two were the earlier mentioned Ruins Of The Future, and The Black Token from the The Archaic Course album.
Hedlund did an ok job in talking to the audience in between songs, but when he introduced Universal as “…a song we haven’t played live for many, many years”, I could not help but let a small smile rise on my lips. Honestly, thinking about when they were last here, isn’t that true for every single song they’ve made? Though again, minor detail, and as soon as they actually started playing the song, all such thoughts were blown away in the blink of a second.
When not being spoken to in the silences, the crowd took matters in their own hand, as when some problems with Jens F. Ryland’s guitar caused a slight delay before The Black Token and a loud Borknagar chant filled the air around me, which made me feel right at home. When Inherit The Earth was played the entire front was jumping in time with the music, and by the time we reached Future Reminiscence I just had to jot down “mere words cannot describe this” on my notepad. This was such a huge experience.

Straight after the show, Nedland jumped down into the photopit to shake hands with the still hungry fans, and as the operative word of the day was Giving, he had his hands filled with Borknagar patches which he handed out to everyone and anyone who was fast enough to get their hands out as he passed by.
Some time after he had left and people were still hanging around, Kinkade decided to enter the stage once more as well, and threw some drumsticks out. One lucky bastard even got his hands on a drumskin which had been signed by the entire band. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but I still missed both of these goodies, and was left only with good memories, and a big old grin all over my sunburnt face.


Ruins Of The Future
Gods Of My World
Oceans Rise
Inherit The Earth
The Black Token
Future Reminiscence
Ad Noctum
The Genuine Pulse
The Dawn Of The End

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