ENSIFERUM – IRELAND – Dublin – The Button Factory
Ensiferum have been to Dublin a few times before, but this is their first time to come as headliners. Ok, so the club isn’t bursting at the seams, but as the band take the stage with opener ‘Symbols’, it is clear the crowd are behind them one hundred percent. Which is a good thing really, because as Ensiferum move on to ‘In My Sword I Trust’, I can’t help feeling that the band are resting on their laurels and relying on the crowd’s enthusiasm rather than their own ability to manage and dictate the atmosphere and energy of the gig.
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, although the sound is crystal clear, The Button Factory suffers from some pretty serious volume restrictions. I have been to louder parties than this! Secondly, there isn’t really much in the way of chemistry between the guys. Granted, musically everyone knows what they are doing and it looks like they could all play these numbers in their sleep, but apart from bassist Sami’s gurning and windmilling the stage presence is a little underwhelming. Drummer Janne looks like he could be sitting behind a desk filling out insurance claims. Anyone who knows this band can tell you how good this guy is, but right now, it looks like he is trying to figure out what to have for dinner tomorrow. Rapport with the crowd is pretty thin too as the band’s approach of concentrating on the music means that those who aren’t already crazy about Ensiferum are going to take a while to get into proceedings.
ENSIFERUM – live @ Dublin 2012
(Photo: Roger Lawler)
On the plus side, the stage looks fantastic and the banners on either side have a strong visual impact. Image isn’t important to some people, but as far as I’m concerned when bands like Ensiferum bother to get dressed up it looks great and is an essential aspect of the performance. As you can see from the pictures, the guys score highly on this side of things!
It might have taken a while, but the band hit their stride three or four songs in, delivering an epic and absorbing folk metal experience with ‘From Afar’, ‘Burning Leaves’ and ‘Pohjola’. When a band is working with material this strong it is difficult to miss the mark and Ensiferum are spot on. When these guys speed things up a bit, they smoke the competition, but their strength lies in catchy rhythms that build up to chanting, fist in the air choruses. By the time Markus announces ‘Iron’ (Da Da Da-Dah!) any doubters have been converted and the venue is rocked to the rafters as every soul in the building joins the refrain.
From there we are served ‘Twilight Tavern’ and ‘Battle Song’ to take us out to the finish line. By the end of the night Ensiferum have conquered even the non-believers and left a smile on every face.