Dubbed as the Finnish folk metal mafia, the co-headline package of MOONSORROW & KORPIKLAANI bolsters two bands who have been at the summit of folk metal for years. With both bands touring in promotion of new records, this was the first chance for fans to hear new material in the live setting. And with excellent reputations on the live stage to boast, as the tour rolled into Manchester, this was a show that was surrounded with anticipation.
Taking to the stage first was MOONSORROW, a band that whilst still categorised as folk metal distances itself from the happy-go-lucky approach from many bands in the scene. With the recent Jumalten Aika still fresh in their fan’s minds, this was the first chance to new material live. Opening with the title track from the new record, it set up the stage perfectly for the Finnish pagans. Subtle orchestral sounds hummed over the speakers whilst the band built atmosphere before unfolding into the epic track. The sound of MOONSORROW is very complex on record and the band did a formidable job on bringing it to the live stage. Henri Sorvali and Mitja Harvailahti‘s guitar work kept the heads banging, Markus Euren‘s keyboard work was subtle yet dramatically effective and Ville Sorvali‘s vocal exchanges replicating the sound of blackened folk metal in fine fashion. The occasional appearance of KORPIKLAANI‘s Jonne Järvelä only bolstered MOONSORROW‘s effective ability to immerse the audience in an environment of paganism.
With an eight song setlist covering the basis of their expansive career, MOONSORROW effectively catered for the swelling crowd. Arguably the most difficult task that faced the band was maintaining their immersive atmosphere found on record and somehow, in the live setting, the band achieved this with ease. With consistent riffs, solid backing from the keyboards, blastbeats that dazzled and a vocal display that was truly admirable MOONSORROW effectively cemented their place as one of the best bands in the folk metal scene today.
Whilst their countrymen opted for a dark musical journey, KORPIKLAANI incited wacky and ridiculous fun from the get go. Opening the proceedings with Viinamäen mies the band instantly made an impression. With both bands on the night had the same amount of time on stage the differing factor here however was that KORPIKLAANI were able to jam-pack a huge chunk of their career into the setlist. With a 23 song setlist, the band had all the basis covered. Tracks from last year’s Noita gelled instantly with their classic material demonstrating that the band still have what it takes to bring new material to their performances.
On record, KORPIKLAANI‘s daft and frantic approach to folk metal isn’t for everyone but in a live setting, the feeling is intoxicating. Through their up tempo rhythm, largely due to the performances of Tuomas Rounakari on the violin and Sami Perttula on the accordion, the mass crowd engaged in ridiculous fun. Folk dancing, chain-link dancing and group banging of the heads was common occurrence here and it made for great participation from all in attendance.
With Jonne Järvelä providing slick vocal exchanges in his native tongue with occasional dabbles of English, it drove KORPIKLAANI‘s relentless energy. Riffs were massive, the drumming of Matti Johansson was consistent enough to keep the heads banging and the band’s positive attitude reflected well in their performance. From the intoxicating chorus of Vodka to the slick musical delivery of Rauta, KORPIKLAANI‘s performance was enjoyable from start to finish.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action from Christopher Ryan below: