Pain Of Salvation

Markthalle, Hamburg - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Pain of Salvation was out and about on another European leg of the In The Passing Light Of Day, and with them they had brought a brand new setlist - yeah, sure, the songs from said album hadn’t really changed, but all the retrospective material had been revised. There were classics brought back to life, more obscure material, all the way to a song they hadn’t ever played live before! In short, a lot of earcandy was in store for the PoS connoisseur.
You won’t be surprised that we couldn’t pass this opportunity up, even though they didn’t stop by Denmark this time around.

“People always ask when we stand like this with the guitar, if it’s just an extension of the penis. It is. Without it, it would only be one metre, and I like the extra… Can I have a drum roll, please?”
- Daniel Gildenlöw (vocals/guitar)


We were met with a slightly different stage setup this time around. The drums and the keyboards were still standing on their individual podiums, but between them was placed a chair, a record player, and a few old-timey LP’s. Over the speakers we heard a long selection of disco styled tunes, and the overall impression was that of a slightly more intimate presentation. I didn’t notice it to begin with, but when the lights went down, and the music was changed for static noise, I noticed a TV set with flimmering lights to the left side of the stage as well - I was slightly reminded of the livingroom setup in Roger Waters’ The Wall live production. You could certainly do worse than that in comparisons.

The band kicked off with On A Tuesday, the opener off their latest album, and a great opener for any show, for sure. Straight from the start, we were thrust back into the strong and gripping atmosphere that is a Pain Of Salvation show, and we felt right at home.
Markthalle delivered a lovely setting as per usual, and good sound to boot, leaving it to the band to stand for the tightness and quality of the delivery. Knowing them, we weren’t in doubt that they were up for the task, something they proved time and again, song after song.
Or actually, there was one song that didn’t really hit home, and that was probably the biggest surprise of the evening. It had come to my attention that Disco Queen was back in the set, and I was overjoyed. This was after all my earliest favourite of the band, having heard it live many many years ago, and fallen in love with its quirky fun melody. Somehow, Disco Queen anno 2018 just didn’t work as well as it had in previous years. Was it because after familiarising more with the band, I have fallen more for their emotional tracks? Was it because the delivery felt a tinsy bit slow and flat compared to the rest of the set? Was it because of the lighting choice, where nearly all of the frontlights were cut, and thus inadvertently rendering Gustaf Hielm’s pretty fun and super-sparkly Flying V bass irrelevant? (yes, contrary to what the wisdom of Alice Cooper says, it doesn’t sparkle in the dark)
Whatever it was, it just wasn’t working for me, sadly. The blinking lights headdresses worn by the sound- and light technicians were a nice touch though.

“We’ll just keep playing, cause that’s what we do. Are you with us?!”
- Gildenlöw (vocals/guitar)


On the other hand, basically everything else did work, so what is there really to complain about? I mean, there was a goosebump inducing moment already early on, when Gildenlöw was on his knee, playing Falling, of course followed by The Perfect Element. Léo Margarit did an excellent job with those high-note vocals in On A Tuesday. Pilgrim with Hielm on an electric double bass - wow!
Hell, the mere fact that the venue asked the band for an encore not on the setlist should really say something about how good it was. Beyond The Pale was picked, and it, like so many others, hit home perfectly.
The crowd had grown quite a bit from the time Kingcrow had played, but we were still some way away from sold out. Quite a bit more than could have fit in MarX however. Why was this important? Well, MarX is the smaller room at Markthalle, where we were now in the main room. Gildenlöw reminisced at the show though, about the band’s first visit to Markthalle (1999), where he had entered the main hall, and was wowed over being able to play there, after which he had been ushered into MarX instead, being told that this was the venue for the evening. Pain Of Salvation have visited Hamburg many times during the years after this, most often at Markthalle, although never again at MarX.

We’re getting off point however. What I wanted to say, was that even though the place wasn’t sold out, it was a room of die-hard fans that met the band. Everyone was cheering and applauding loudly between songs, and living the songs while they were played. Here’s probably the biggest mistake on the venue’s side - none of the two bars in the room were open, and visitors weren’t likely to leave the concert to go out into the entry hall for the bar there - sales could have probably been a lot better, had the inside bars, or at least one of them, been open. But that has nothing to do with the band.

So, yeah. If you haven’t guessed it by now, and that can only really mean you haven’t read this far anyway, the show was a mega hit. Practically everything one could have hoped for. Sure, there are always songs you’ll wish for, but it doesn’t matter which setlist a band shows up with, that feeling will still be there.
The band obviously haven’t lost the energy, even though they’ve done quite a bit of touring for In The Passing Light of Day, and we can only hope they come back around our neck of the woods soon enough.

Setlist:

On A Tuesday
Reasons
Meaningless
Falling
The Perfect Element
Disco Queen
Kingdom Of Loss
Inside
Handful Of Nothing
Pilgrim
Inside Out
Full Throttle Tribe
Used
Beyond The Pale
The Passing Light Of Day

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