Photo courtesy of Radio Metal and Loic “Lost Stephan
2020 may seem like a year we want to leave in the history books. With a pandemic causing shows to come to a standstill, bands have been left reinventing themselves and finding new strategies for reaching fans. Avatarium is one of those bands with a slew of shows that were canceled, leaving them with an album full of amazing songs they desperately wanted to share with fans live.
Fortunately for us, Avatarium recorded a show they did for a Facebook live stream and are releasing it as a download. The show was shot at Nalen in Stockholm, Sweden, one of two shows they played in January of this year. The venue was built in the late 1800s and served as a place for political meetings, sports events, and concerts. It is not a big venue but has unique historical charm, and some of the biggest bands have played there from The Kinks to Swedish rock greats Europe.
The show begins as the house lights drop and the stage lights rise. “Voices” and “Rubicon” open the show from Avatarium’s latest album, The Fire I Long For. The stage is adorned with tall pillars on both sides, giving it a Roman-like feel. The band with their instruments is positioned perfectly on the stage, and at center stage, an oriental rug surrounds singer Jennie-Ann Smith.
The show was the first show of 2020 for Avatarium, but you would never know that by the precision and synchronicity as they blaze through “Into the Fire / Into the Storm.” Up next is one of my favorite songs from The Fire I Long For. “Lay Me Down” has a great dark, country-like sound that showcases Smith’s hypnotizing voice. The song “Avatarium” darkens things even more. “Shake That Demon” exemplifies the musical harmonization between the guitar of Marcus Jidel and the organ of Rickard Nilsson. The organ has always played a big part in Avatarium’s music, but it is amplified in a live setting, giving an early Deep Purple sound. “Pearls and Coffins” brings a larger than life theatrical sound to the stage that is mixed with a light show that keeps the mood obscure. The song includes an epic guitar solo from Marcus again paired with the more psychedelic organ.
Things get a bit bluesy as they add a Doomy sound to the classic In My Time of Dying originally done by blues god Blind Willie Johnson. The song has been redone by greats such as Jimmy Page, U2’s The Edge, and even The Black Crows, but none add quite the deep dark sound that Avatarium does.
“Medusa Child” brings the beast that none of us can see more than once to life and immortalizes her into a song. It is quickly followed by “The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea,” a song that Jim Morrison would love to coin as his own if he were alive today.
“The Fire I Long For” brings to life one of my favorite Avatarium songs. The song has a dark sound and lyrics, giving it a shadowy demise like sound.
Things speed back up for the last song, “Girl With the Raven Mask.” By this time, you can feel the connection between the band and the rhythm section of Mats Rydström on bass and Andreas ”Habo” Johansson, who has carried the beat perfectly throughout the show.
Coming out for the encore, the piano intro to “Stars They Move” begins, and Jennie and Rickard spellbind the crowd. The show comes to a climax with “Moonhorse.” Avatarium put together a fantastic opening night of The Fire I Long For tour. It would be their first and next to last show for the year.
The show was filmed with five cameras giving it a larger than life feel. The visuals are coupled with an amazing audio mix, making the show an authentic at-home concert experience. The vocal performance of Jennie is perfect and powerful from her first note to the last goodbye. The band’s performance that night was not that of an opening night but that of the last date of a worldwide tour.
If you are curious about Avatarium, this is your chance to become a raging fan. The concert will be available for download on August 28th, and you can print your own cover.
Regardless of the state of 2020, this concert is a must for your collection. The sights, the sounds, and the musicianship of Avatarium make this a top pick for my live collection. You can reserve your copy here: Avatarium Live in Stockholm January 2020.