TAAKE live at USF Verftet, Bergen –

TAAKE live at USF Verftet, Bergen –

The renowned Norwegian black metal artillery that is Taake staged a near-flawless homecoming show at the excellent venue that is USF Verftet last night in the glorious town of Bergen. It turned out to be one of those shows that left you with a load of different thoughts, feelings, and impressions to absorb and digest afterwards, which is partially what makes Taake what it is. These guys are not merely some run-of-the-mill black metal outfit just as last night was not merely some stereotypical black metal gig. There is way more to it than that, which is evidenced by the quality of the songwriting, the sublimity of the albums, and the radiant and majestic atmosphere of the live shows in general.

Last night’s gig brings to mind words like mesmerizing and outstanding. The band plowed through classic cuts and staples such as "Over bjoergvin graater himmerik IV", "Norbundet", "Myr", "Hordalands doeskvad I", "Orm", "Nattestid ser porten vid I",  "Hordalands doeskvad III", "Fra Vadested til Vaandesmed", and "Du ville ville Vestland", just to list a few examples. All the studio albums were represented perfectly. Taake were firing on all cylinders for roughly one hour and forty minutes, which suited yours truly just fine. There was absolutely no let-up in terms of energy whatsoever or any loss of momentum throughout the performance for that matter. Hoest’s razor sharp vocals were as intense and emotionally charged as ever. The man is as charismatic on stage as he is unsettling and there is something utterly captivating and strangely compelling about the way in which he conducts the band and the audience through those cold and morose compositions of his. How he manages to walk that fine line between being explosive and in-your-face on the one hand and moody and introspective on the other is a total mystery to me.

Photo by Camilla Nepper

I have never encountered another figure on stage who inhabited those very same traits, but is that not part of what makes a Taake live ritual such a striking thing of bone-chilling beauty? There are contrasts and energies locked in constant battle with each other that wrestle both within the songs themselves and on stage. Also, there is an otherworldly quality to Taake’s song material that lends itself incredibly well to being performed live, and there was particularly something about the rendition of "Orm" that made me feel slightly voyeuristic at times, almost as if I was watching something really intimate, frightening, and beautiful that one is not meant to watch or experience, but that is merely testament to how much depth, texture, and spirit that lies within the piece.

As my wife rightfully pointed out afterwards, the performance itself was disciplined and structured in that each and every member was right on the money and delivered every note with passion and conviction , which is to say that Taake as a whole is a well-oiled machine on stage these days, but there are always those elements revolving around danger, unpredictability, and sinister excitement present whenever they perform. Rarely has that been more prominent or emphasized than last night. It was thrilling and riveting, just as a stellar and magnificent black metal concert ought to be. A superb 25th anniversary show that will always stand out and be remembered as a glorious event. Now all we need is a DVD release of the cursed thing!