TRISTANIA – Oslo – Betong
A Tristania headline show in Oslo is something of a rare thing and with not more than 150 or so souls to sparsely decorate Betong, a venue that holds upwards of 600 or so, perhaps there is reason for their rare visits.
It is an odd thing to see the crowd here this night, the scene that Tristania no doubt fit into where mainland Europe is concerned is, I imagine, one where some crossover appeal with the Gothic and EBM fields is present however tonight it is mainly folk of the more Metal persuasion but not the sorta folk I am used to seeing. Hairstyles that actually have ‘style’, ironed shirts and generally well behaved demeanour are the order of the day…, if one was to exaggerate slightly.
The reason I point out the more cosmetic aspects of the evening is because I felt that it too reflected in the approach of the headliners. Generally a little more focus on the surface rather than the feeling. is how I felt about the night and it’s activities. I am no stranger to Tristania actually, their 1999 effort "Beyond The Veil" is a great album, a true guilty pleasure that remained all alone as far as output of theirs I felt a connection with until their 2007 release "Illumination". "Beyond The Veil" especially was a tour de force in the bombastic and the manicured pomp that is so often sneered upon but can work so well on occasion.
The wilderness years that followed (to me anyway) with "World Of Glass" and "Ashes" left me very, very cold. Songs without much in the way of heart I felt. Pretty much. However, longtime vocalist Vibeke Stene’s parting gift "Illumination" just clicked, her performance being on a par with her looks (sorry, had to) and a particular gem of a track named "Fate" sealed it as a complete return to form for me…, and then she left. Oh well. Mainman Anders Høyvik Hidle pretty much reconstructed the band in the passing three years since – Gyri from Octavia Sperati and Kjetil who was once fromtman of Green Carnation have joined the fold along with Mariangela Demurtas, a fine addition and originally from Sardina.
Anyway, the show. As I mentioned, the band have the moves, they have some nice additional lighting onstage etc etc. but it all feels too cerebral from their part for me. KK Downing and Glenn Tipton honed their synchronised moves onstage back in the day… …true, but those times were fuelled by simple enthusiasm and not really knowing any better… With Tristania it feels more like Pop Idol to me…, the head ruling over heart. The sound is good, the lights are good, even some of the moves are good I think but it’s just not………..
Musically there is too much filler simply because I am not a fan of all periods of the band, that’s to be expected. New single "Year Of The Rat" opens and does nothing for me. It feels like a chorus that had a song built around it out of necessity and is basically just too much that surface and not enough that feeling. The set wore on as it began pretty much, some decent tunes and some not so decent but overall just not my bag. I’m surely not the best to judge this event but that is just how it goes for the artist sometimes. For the faithful, however, good news abounds – Norwegian director Eivind Norbom was present at this show with his trusted camera and will accompany the band across Europe (and some of Norway) to film a DVD. After which you may all witness for yourselves and be welcome in telling me how poor my taste is.
Vulture Industries opened incidentally. Indeed a good band in their own right and one of the better kept secrets from Norway. If the cynical pot were to be stirred it would be no crime to point that that their music could actually be Arcturus, so close is it to the former disguised masters, not that it is such a bad thing considering how disappointing the last Arcturus album was. However one point that sticks, the whole ‘mad scientist/lab worker’ image employed by the Bergen lads just seems a bit too naive and ‘tryhard’ when they are close to emulating another band and unfortunately tainted my opinion of what could otherwise have been a very enjoyable show.