In Flames

Copenhell - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Due to it only being booked huge bands for the Helvíti stage this year, it wasn’t surprising to see such a popular act as In Flames open it on the first day of the festival. The question was, how were they going to handle it?

“Now we’ll start the disco! Denmark, come one!”
- Anders Fridén (vocals)

A lot of years have passed since our last encounter with In Flames, and a lot of things have happened with the band since that time. A new album has come out, called Battles, a new and simplistic version of the Jesterhead has been created, and most importantly of all, there have been some major changes to the personnel. In Flames have lost long-time collaborators in drummer Daniel Svensson and bassist Peter Iwers, something that, since I don’t follow the band closely nowadays, surprised me quite a lot as the band took the stage. Svensson was replaced by Joe Rickard last year, and in Iwers place, the band has settled for a live-musician in Bryce Paul Newman. Both are American, and none of them are known to me by anything they have done prior to being in In Flames at this show. There was also some guy playing keyboards, but I have no idea who that was.
They all played well enough though, and even though the beginning of the set was dominated by newer songs, and thus unknown to me, it was still fine. I’m sorry, I just feel a bit indifferent towards In Flames these days – I’m not going to jump on the wagon and scream that they turned to crap after XX album, because they didn’t. They just evolved away from what interests me.
It was nice watching Niclas Engelin though, as he was getting into it straight from the start, posing and having fun. The rest of the gang was a bit more restrained at this point, although I guess this is also another example of what they’ve become over time.

“You came here for heavy metal, but that went straight to hell. Move your fat bellies, it’s dancing time!”
Fridén (vocals)

If In Flames were easing into it, the Copenhell crowd was doing the exact opposite! Almost straight from the start, a mighty dust-cloud hung in the air, caused by the huge circle pit in the middle of the mass of people. Hell, it even blurred the view of the stage at times, that’s how violent it was!
Fridén called for extra security at one point, guessing they’d need some backup due to the massive amount of crowdsurfers he figured would come sailing in as soon as they got their next song underway. Ok, so the massive amount of crowdsurfers didn’t really hit, but the amount of raised horns and jumping fans increased massively, and that must be counted as a positive as well, right?
In general, the band and its music was quite well received, and the party that was going on around me made this a clear-cut crowd winner. You know, the type of show where the crowd is partying harder and better than even the band.

“If you find any kind of beat in this, then clap your hands to it, and help us here on the stage out!”
- Fridén (vocals)

Little by little, the band began opening up though, finally, and all of its members rose to the occasion. Fridén turned out to have a special event up his sleeve even – before Cloud Connected he spotted a young kid in the audience, whom he invited to the stage. The kid got helped up, and sat together with Fridén in front of the keyboards for a bit, where he got handed the mic to scream in the song. He was also given a mobile phone (or was it his own, couldn’t really tell), to film the song from the stage, so as to get the crowd in the shot. Two songs later, and dad is also invited to the stage, and given a beer by Fridén’s daughter, who is apparently the on-tour bartender.
This was of course fun for us, and surely ten times as fun for father and son, but even without it, the show lifted more and more. Going from the indifferent feeling I had in the beginning, In Flames managed to pull it up to a quite entertaining show. It brought an earnest smile to my face, and I think that’s a pretty darned good deal, considering where I stand regarding the band nowadays. So, to answer my own question, In Flames handled the opening position just fine, professionally and with humour.

Setlist (incomplete):

The Jester’s Dance
Only For The Weak
Cloud Connected
Take This Life
Black Hole Sun (Soundgarden song)

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