Primordial

Vega, Copenhagen - 2016

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

A bit past the year mark of Primordial’s first visit to Denmark, then at the Copenhell festival, the Irish extreme metal crew was back for another bite of the kingdom’s capitol.

“We are Primordial from the republic of Ireland, and I have one question! Are you with us?!”
- Alan ‘A.A. Nemtheanga’ Averill (vocals)


The hall and stage of Lille Vega isn’t terribly large, rightly implied by the name, but it was, if not sold out, then at least pretty damn close to it. The local support band Slægt had managed to warm the room up, as if the squeezed nature of the audience hadn’t done that all by itself, and now, with the curtains closed and a deep chanting coming from the speakers, Copenhagen was awaiting the return of their favourite Irish extremists.
The look on the faces of the band members as they entered, showed us that they didn’t mind the reunion one bit either. In fact, they seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously.
Primordial opened the ball with the title track of their latest album, Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014), and from there on out, they managed to touch on almost every major release the band has made, with the one exception of the debut album, Imrama. A little bit for everyone, on might say. It was, surprisingly, not the Where Greater Men Have Fallen album that made the largest impact on the setlist however, but rather it was Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand and the great To The Nameless Dead (titled great because this was where our acquaintance with the band begun), that competed for top position, judging by the number of songs played from them.
Now, as connoisseurs might know, Primordial isn’t really a band that is all about short songs, but still they managed to play a hefty setlist. As Nemtheanga commented, they weren’t like other bands who just pop by for a measly hour or so, they were playing a real concert!

“Down in the front, laddie!”
- Nemtheanga (vocals)


This of course pleased the Danish crowd, which had been waiting for a very long time to see Primordial playing just that – a real show!
If you at any time would manage to be in doubt of this, you could just look around you to be reassured that it was true. Already from the first song, the audience was loudly chanting along, responding jubilantly to Simon O’Laoghaire turning his drumsticks into an inverted cross in Gods To The Godless, and then applauding the advent of No Grave Deep Enough.
Due to the packed nature of the room, there wasn’t much wild thrashing about, but rather a slow yet powerful and relentless wave moving the crowd. However, when the band reached Heathen Tribes, Copenhagen still managed to break into a good old moshpit! And what would a concert be without a cheery sing-along? Not much, so that was catered to as well, with the “Sing, sing, sing to the slaves” bit of As Rome Burns, quite enthusiastically.

"This whole thing seemed like a risk, thank you for proving us wrong!"
- Nemtheanga (vocals)


And why wouldn’t it be enthusiastic? After all, if anything, Primordial infuses enthusiasm in the hearts of those who see and listen to them. That is what really sets them apart from so many other black and extreme metal bands – the pathos that can be heard in every word sung, in the expression of Nemtheanga’s face and body as he towers at the front of the stage, and the heart-wrenching melodies brought forth by the musicians of the band.
Something that doesn’t necessarily set them apart, but is a fine addition nonetheless, is the band’s contact to the crowd. I learned at the first show I saw with them, that Nemtheanga is at the very top of this game from start to finish, and this day wasn’t any different, but what the intimacy of the smaller stage brought out, was the rest of the band. In earlier reviews, I’ve commented on the musicians of Primordial taking the back seat in the performance wagon, letting Nemtheanga stand for this by himself, but now, standing only a few feet away as I did, I could see that, even though the frontman was the most active by far, the rest of them were no strangers to the crowd either. I was standing in the side of Micheál O’Floinn, and he was smiling and approaching the audience in front of him throughout the show as well, as I’m sure the people standing in front of Ciáran MacUiliam and Pól MacAmlaigh felt they did.

I’m constantly mentioning the entire show here, and before we reach the conclusion, I would like to dwell on that for a little bit, if you don’t mind.
You see, not only was this the first ever proper concert by Primordial in Denmark, but they even had a debut of their own brought along. According to Nemtheanga you see, this was the first time (probably meaning first tour) that Primordial played Autumn’s Ablaze from the sophomore album A Journey’s End, and I see no reason to doubt his word on this.
Also, do you remember me writing that the band promised a full show, not just a short titbit, above. Well, they kept their word, and then some! What I mean is, that the set they had prepared was long enough in itself to satisfy each and every man and woman here, but you know crowds – always shouting or more when it’s over. And the band listened. And they came back. And they played one more song! I don’t mean the usual “oh look, we have something more prepared for you from home”, but a genuine encore, not to be found on the setlist. It was Sons Of The Morrigan, and it saw us bid farewell to Primordial. For this time.
And, oh, what a time it was…

Setlist:

Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Gods To The Godless
No Grave Deep Enough
Autumn’s Ablaze
Lain With The Wolf
Babel’s Tower
As Rome Burns
Traitors Gate
The Mouth Of Judas
Bloodied Yet Unbowed
The Coffin Ships
Heathen Tribes
Empire Falls
Encore:
Sons Of The Morrigan

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