Copenhell - 2016

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

A new, and final, day dawned on Copenhell. Something absolutely spectacular was called for, in order to kick the morning into gear. Copenhell felt that Clawfinger might just be able to deliver that.
I have a lot of love for Clawfinger, no doubt about that, but they’ve been broken up and out of the game for a while, so would they be up to snuff, or rusty and old?

“We hope that we can open your party in the most beautiful of ways today.”
- Zak Tell (vocals)

So, picture this. It’s the final day of a metal festival. We’re talking first band on the main stage. The weather is warm and sunny, and yet hangovers hang like dark clouds all over. Many, maybe most, festival goers are outspoken old-schoolers, and the band has on occasion called itself the “first ever nu-metal band”. Yeah, doesn’t exactly sound like a winning combination, does it?
And yet, somehow, a whole lot of people had in fact gathered round the Helvíti stage, waiting for Clawfinger to come on. And they did, to a friendly, homely, piece of music, which I sadly cannot place. Anyway, the band looked cheerful enough, and Zak Tell looked like he had just stepped out of the Trazan & Banarne’s universe (Swedish kids show), in his striking animal suit.
Musically, we entered through the back door, as it were, with the song Prisoners from their final (for now) album, Life Will Kill You. I admit, this wasn’t one I knew, but the chorus was easy and sing-along friendly enough that we all quickly caught on and, well, sang along. Not a bad way to open, that’s for sure!
Moving on, we got a nicely varied setlist, not shying away from classics, but not entirely predictable either.

“This is Copen-fucking-hell, and we want to see your fucking hands in the air!”
- Tell (vocals)

It wasn’t the setlist that won the hearts of the festival goers however, although I will not pretend it didn’t help.
No, this had much more to do with the performance of each of the band members. Drummer Micke Dahlén was naturally locked in his position, but the rest of the crew, well, let’s just admit that they weren’t tied down to anything! André Skaug and Bård Torstensen were often changing sides with each other, Skaug a bit livelier I’ll admit, what with his jumping and headbanging and the like, but Torstensen had a great eye for the audience in front of him, and had a good connection going that way. Jocke Skog is well-known for forgetting that he actually has a keyboard to play, and wandered round as well, firing up the audience as well as he could (which was quite well, wouldn’t you know).
And then there was Zak Tell. This guy was on fire! He had a great connection going with the audience, he spoke well (and a lot) between songs, and he was, as seen earlier in their career as well, a kick-ass performer. Already during the second song, Zeros & Heroes, Tell left the stage, and took a lap through the inner part of the crowd to get the party going. Which he did. Later, regarding the not tied down note above, he climbed out on the edge of the stage during Catch Me, beckoning the crowd to come closer. After quickly getting his wish, the stage dived out into the crowd, this time crowd-surfing the same lap he had earlier walked, ending with going back on stage on the other side.
Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, Skaug also took a stage dive later on. He had to raise the odds of course, and climbed up the stage side first, before jumping. He was caught, but if he hadn’t been, we would have had quite a mess on our hands…

“Question! We’re at a Danish festival, and none of us have any beers on stage. What’s up with that?!”
- Tell (vocals)

Yes, the crowd was ready and willing to catch the band, just as the band was ready and willing to put it on the line for the sake of creating a show that would stick out from the average. And the average this year was a pretty high bar to compete against.
Still, with all the things listed in the beginning that could go against the band, the Copenhell crowd showed that they were ready for Clawfinger. There was a lot of singing along to choruses, there was a moshpit working wildly in the midday sun, jumping, and general mayhem.
Apart from the interactions mentioned above, Clawfinger also let the crowd directly in on the fun during a pause in Nothing Going On, where Tell instigated a clap-along, during which Torstensen did an Angus Young run across the stage. Afterwards, Tell was convinced by a shouting audience to show off his breakdancing moves, which, arguably, were questionable at best, but certainly 100% intentional.
If, after all this, anyone doubted whether or not the band was known in these parts, that doubt was put to rest with incessant song requests, which, the closer we got to the end of the show, narrowed more and more in on Do What I Say. As the band came back after a short break, indicating the beginning of the encore section, the crowd singing “when I grow up, there will be a day…” became nearly deafening, but the band was playing coy. Tell commented that “we’ve never been a band that has done what others tell us to do”, and instead, they played The Truth. After this though, they sadly couldn’t pull it out any longer, and Do What I Say got to be the big finale of the concert.

“We are so fucking best!”
- Tell (vocals)

So, imagine this. A band which broke up three years prior to this concert, playing a style of metal not officially well received by the general festival guest, and playing at a time when most people would be tending their hangovers in shady tents or with the food vendors. A band, that not only, as it turned out, had a huge following at the festival, but also walks in and owns the festival from the first note to the last.
Yours truly named it the best concert of the festival, and possibly of the year, right then and there.
So, in the end, it turned out to be a stroke of genius from Copenhell’s side, to have Clawfinger ring in the last day of the festival. They did it in an outstanding and unforgettable way, and we want more!


Zeros & Heroes
Money Power Glory
Catch Me
Out To Get Me
None The Wiser
Nothing Going On
Two Sides
Recipe For Hate
Biggest & The Best
The Price We Pay
The Truth
Do What I Say

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