In Flames

Royal Arena, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

In Flames’ and Five Finger Death Punch’s co-headlining tour didn’t stay away for long – not quite half a year after their last visit, the duo was back in Copenhagen, this time to wreak havoc at the newly opened Royal Arena.
At their last visit, In Flames hadn’t made much of an impression at first, but had managed to tie together a good show in the end. Would they manage this again, would they kick ass from the beginning, or would it all fall flat? We were about to find out.

“I’m just going to say one thing in Swedish. Jag älskar er, Danmark!”
- Anders Fridén (vocals)

In Flames played as the first of the two, and when their intro music began rolling, and the lights came up, we could see that the entire stage was covered by a curtain at the front. The curtain bore a huge In Flames logo across it, but other than that, it was so thin that it was easy to see through. Why this was, was made apparent soon enough – for the entire first song, Drained, the curtain stayed up, and we as an audience got to experience the performance through a kind of physical Instagram filter. What good this was supposed to do never became apparent.
After it dropped, at the beginning of the second song, Before I Fall (I wonder if there was a pun hidden there, what with the curtain falling), we were better able to appreciate the stage build that In Flames had brought along. The keyboards and the drums were each placed on a tall pedestal, several metres high, and the sides of these pedestals, as well as the backwall of the stage, was made up of strips of light-bands, which were able to display video productions. Growing more advanced in their imagery as the show progressed, they were one of the highlights (pun intended) of the concert.
Later, In Flames would also have a huge puppet lowered from the roof. It was the owl-headed youth of the A Sense Of Purpose album cover artwork, and he appeared for the song Alias from that same album. It looked cool at first, with its eyes shining red from time to time, but on the other hand, that was all it could do. And with a third of the set still to go, it did seem a bit odd just having him hang there for the rest of the way…

“Scream for me Copenhagen! Scream for me Denmark! Lose your fucking shit for this!”
- Fridén (vocals)

The thing is, there wasn’t much more action going on in the band. Sure, fair enough, the string bending trio consisting of Björn Gelotte, Niclas Engelin, and Bryce Paul did walk around a bit, but there was nothing hurried about it, nothing to get our adrenaline going. Especially Engelin made good use of the foot on monitor trick, and they all nodded their heads once in a while as well, but, well, yeah.
While the location of the drummer and keyboardist was cool to look at, and yes, it was damn cool, it also made it harder to see the persons behind the instruments, making their respective performance have little effect on the band performance as a whole.
Finally, we had the obvious frontman in Fridén. Vocally, I’ll give him bonus points for playing around with a much more brutal growl than we are used to hear from his side, even if it was only for a short instance during Take This Life. The rest of the way, it was his usual screamy voice coupled with the slightly clearer one. I noticed that he was continuing on his downward slope regarding pronunciation – it was almost impossible to hear what he was saying, even during the best known songs. When not singing, Fridén would nearly constantly leave the stage, only coming back again when it was time for him to do something. He did deliver some convincing yet stock comments between songs, and a speech about putting down our phones, tablets, and what not for a while, and have a truly analogue experience. Perhaps even make a few new friends while we’re at it.

“Boys and girls, don’t stop running! Here’s a fast one for you, I hear you like that shit!”
- Fridén (vocals)

At this point, more people had gathered in the new arena. Quite a few, actually. If it was friend-making you were after, there were enough possibilities to go through.
Most of us were here for the music though, and to experience and react to that. And reactions were plentiful, as In Flames had the crowd behind them (not literally, of course, that would have been silly) in much of their efforts.
In the third song, Everything’s Gone, the music took a turn for the heavier, and this was instantly picked up on in the pit, which intensified its action. A bit further down the road, and the eternal crowd-pleaser Only For The Weak had people jumping and banging away, and later still, when Fridén asked us to clap our hands for Moonshield, he was met with a strong response to this as well. Well, he did have some complaints regarding our rhythmic sense, but that’s not new.
The Copenhagen crowd also got to show some muscle in the vocal department, when after Alias, the band asked us to sing Happy Birthday for their soundtech, who after 20 years with the band, now was celebrating his 40th birthday, still working on perfecting the sound of In Flames.

For all the good response In Flames got this evening from the crowd, and for all the praises showered over their performance by Lunah Lauridsen (photographer), I must own up that I didn’t feel the band tonight. They had created a perfect setting for a grand show, visually the stage was stunning, but the performance felt weak and uninspired. This was a band that not only didn’t go outside the box, they even stayed damn clear of even moving up to it’s sides from the inside!


Before I Fall
Everything’s Gone
Take This Life
Only For The Weak
Dead Alone
Darker Times
The Jester’s Dance
Save Me
Here Until Forever
The Truth
Deliver Us
The Mirror’s Truth
The Quiet Place
The End

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