Orphaned Land

Pumpehuset, Copenhagen - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

With the recent release of their live-DVD/CD The Road To Or-Shalem, and several confirmed dates in Europe with Denmark being one of them, it would seem my (one)ear-long wish (yes, what can I say, I’m new to the band) was finally coming into fruition with a headlining date for this great band in my own city!
And what happens? Five days before the show, the venue closes down citing financial problems! Was I in panic? You bet your sweet zombie Jesus I was!
Luckily, the people organizing this show were apparently at least as eager as I was to make this show happen, and at the last minute they were able to relocate the concert to a new venue. Phew...

Now, the change from The Rock to the newly opened downstairs stage of Pumpehuset wasn’t necessarily a bad move for the band either it turned out. Sure, the venue and especially the stage was smaller than the originally planned one, but on the other hand the sound and lights worked so much better here than they have ever done in the other place. Not that The Rock was bad, they held rather normal standards as venues go, but clearly a lot of love and attention had gone into making the new Pumpehuset stage, and this came out in the form of quite exceptional surroundings for the many bands on the tour.
Yes, I say many as Orphaned Land had brought along no less than three other bands supporting them; they were calling this the first Oriental metal tour, and they were delivering on that promise by sharing many different aspects of this still rather young genre.
Artweg who were first on the stage played metalcore/ hardcore, Arkan who were next brought out the heavy guns with their melodic death style, and finally we saw Myrath who were delivering the goods to all the progressive fans out there. Arkan we knew from before, hence they were our favourites of the support bands, but all three delivered good shows, and of course they all had that special little hint of Middle Eastern mystery to them which made this tour stick out from so many others...

But this review isn’t about the support, it’s about the main act of the night, Orphaned Land.
Prior to the guys entering the stage, I spotted a setlist and was pleased to see many of the titles I wanted to hear on it. Oddly enough, when the band finally did come on stage it was quickly made apparent that they weren’t sticking by the setlist for one second – both titles and order had been changed around so there was no telling where this would go. Just relax and enjoy in other words...
The familiar dispatch call of Barakah, off of their latest studio album The Neverending Way Of Or-Warrior, was what opened the night instead of the written down Halo Dies (The Wrath Of God), which in my opinion made for a logical and well-made choice. The intro lent itself well as an opening feature, and the song itself got people going with its melodic yet fast hook. Throughout the show, the band kept on avoiding the order of songs on the setlist, and we even got a cover played which was not only not written down, but according to Kobi Farhi not very rehearsed either. The song was, something parts of the audience had guessed as they had already called out its name, Estarabim, originally composed by the Turkish rock legend Erkin Koray, and Orphaned Lad pulled it off with as much elegance as they would any of their own songs, to much applause by the crowd of course. Heck, there were even people doing their best to sing along to it even though I expect no one present actually know the Turkish language. On the other hand, I don’t expect too many to have known Hebrew of Arabic either, but people were happily trying to sing along to those parts of the songs as well. I don’t know how it sounded to the band, but on the floor we had a lot of fun in this ”synagogue of metal”, as Farhi called it.

The beautiful music was not the only entertainment of the night though; Farhi pulled his usual ”I’m not Jesus” routine, referring to his use of a traditional, simple robe as stage attire, but he also built upon this, adding that he ”only wanted to walk around in Denmark in my pyjamas”. Crazy man, doesn’t he know how cold it is this time of year?
The band had not brought Shlomit Levi along for the female vocals, which we instead got served pre-recorded over the speakers, but both Sapari and Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark) saw a girl entering the stage to perform some belly-dancing, a nice change of pace in the performance. The most impressive thing about it was possibly how they all fit on the small stage at the same time though, and as had been the case with some of the earlier bands of the evening as well, made me completely forget the size of it.
Something I could not completely forget the size of though, was the crowd; I am sad to say that the Copenhagen crow was not as supportive of this event as I had hoped, and there weren’t all that many who had shown up. Fair enough, the bands aren’t all that famous around these parts yet and neither is their style, but with the ticket prices they might as well have been giving this show away for free, and as Orphaned Land have visited this fair town at least two or three times before, I had really hoped for a better support.
Credit where credit is due though, the people who had shown up gave the band all the love they had, and even though our numbers were few, I still hope and believe that we managed to leave a good impression on the bands so that they will consider returning one day. At least they seemed very happy hanging out with us after the show was done, and they stayed on for a long time chatting with their fans.

I want to give big thanks for the people who made this show possible, to them and their dedication I am forever grateful.
I realize you might sit back and scream fanboy after reading this review, and I can hardly blame you. I admit it is easier to be gripped by a show where you know and like the music beforehand, but in my time as reviewer I have been disappointed by bands I loved on record, and at other times been taken aback by the greatness of bands I would have never given the time of day given what they put on album – this evening I was just lucky enough to get the best of both worlds; performance and music which together reached a higher level. This truly is what it’s all about...

Setlist:

Barakah
The Kiss Of Babylon (The Sins)
Birth Of The Three (The Unification)
Olat Ha’Tamid
A Neverending Way
Sapari
From Broken Vessels
The Path Part 1 – Treading Through Darkness
Ocean Land (The Revelation)
Vayehi Or
The Warrior
El Meod Na’Ala
Estarabim (Erkin Koray cover)
In Thy Never Ending Way
Norra El Norra (Entering The Ark)

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