Dark Tranquillity

Rockharz - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Rockharz was certainly the biggest provider of new names and experiences for us this year, and even though I’m all for trying new things, sometimes it can be nice to return to something you know will just deliver the goods, and where you know the goods are good. Dark Tranquillity was up for delivering that part for us at the festival…

“Think you can handle some Gothenburg death metal?!”
- Mikael Stanne (vocals)

I think I can safely say that yes, we were just in the mood for some good old GBG death metal, and if I ever was in doubt all I had to do was take a look around me; the sheer amount of people who had shown up for this gig spoke for itself. All around me the air was filled with arms showing appreciation and by the time the third song of the night, The Lesser Faith, was played all of the voices of the fans had had time to warm up and the sing along was loud and compelling. No wonder the festival had decided to bring the band back (last visit was in 2009), something Stanne also thanked the audience for, before giving us a little bit of Dark Tranquillity trivia, as he called it. The crowd-pleasing info given was that the band photos for their latest album, We Are The Void, were shot in a field just next to the one hosting the Rockharz festival. Not surprisingly, loud cheers ensued…

As you’ve probably figured out by now, Stanne was in a very good mood this evening and didn’t hold back from interacting and connecting with the crowd; he even made a little joke about his own musical history as he asked how many would go over and see his old band later on. By ‘his old band’ he referred to Hammerfall who were playing on the other stage right after Dark Tranquillity were done.
Stanne was also one to dedicate songs away, for example the song Lost To Apathy was credited as “...a love song to all of you (the audience), and a hate song to all of those who don’t get it”.
But Dark Tranquillity wasn’t all talk this evening, there were also the aspects of music and show to consider, and even though Stanne was clearly the liveliest person on stage, the rest of the musicians delivered a good performance as well. Still, Stanne was the star this day, and he spent nearly as much time standing out on the speakers in front of the stage as he did on the stage itself; an act which at times looked a little dangerous as said speakers would swing considerably as he jumped out on them. Sometimes the security-man closest would put his shoulder against the one he was on at the time to keep it stable...

The stage setup was also an integrated part of the show as the back held, instead of the traditional backdrop, a large video-production. At first I thought it was just a clever way of promoting the band’s latest DVD as the title Where Death Is Most Alive kept popping up in different looks between each song, but as the set went on, it would begin to incorporate other images and texts as well. I’m guessing this part of the show was done by the hands of guitarist Niklas Sundin who besides the band also works as a graphic designer and is responsible for, among others, the design of all of Dark Tranquillity’s releases from the 1998 release Projector and up; no matter who created it though, it was an interesting and good addition to the show. Stylish, without taking the focus of what was going on with the band.

So, when all is said and done, the familiar thing worked out really well. Some of my Dark Tranquillity favourites were played, Lost To Apathy and ThereIn, and the Dark Tranquillity show as a whole was definitely one of the most entertaining shows of the festival.

Setlist (incomplete):

The Lesser Faith
Misery’s Crown
Focus Shift
Dream Oblivion
Lost To Apathy
Terminus (Where Death Is Most Alive)

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