Enslaved at Henie Onstad, Oslo

After witnessing a majestic Dimmu Borgir show with the National Orchestra and choir on a Saturday night, Sunday brought another special concert in the land of the Vikings. This time it was held a bit further away from the city center, at the Henie Onstad Arts Center, which offered an interesting collection of black&white concert photography from the 70s, 80s and 90s in one of its indoor exhibitions. But the event we gathered there for took place on the outdoor stage, built like a small amphitheater with the round space in front of the stage and circular stairs people could sit on. The nice part was that you could actually sit on a hill with grass which started right behind these rows of chairs, or on the restaurant's terrace, above the stage, but with no view of the performance.

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Cato Bekkevold of Enslaved live at Henie Onstad, Oslo
Photo: Andrea Chirulescu / studiorock.ro

We got there at the right time, according to the announced hour, but it all started about 30 minutes later; during this time, the shy sun decided to allow the wind to fill the sky with clouds, and after a song or so some really heavy rain started, scaring away a lot of people who ran for cover somewhere to the right/back of the stage. Luckily that didn't scare away the good mood of the musicians, as their jokes were actually one of the main ingredients of the afternoon. Which reminds me, the opening words of Grutle Kjellson, something in the lines of “Good afternoon Oslo… oh, I never actually said this, since we don't usually play at this hour”. Then it went on with plenty of humour in the breaks between songs.

Most of the time, the show itself wasn't something out of the ordinary for the guys in the band. Same kind of clothing and accessories I saw at other concerts, same accurate performance on each instrument, a little crazy headbanging, guitars held in fancy posing stances, a bare chested Ice Dale, superb clean vocals by Herbrand Larsen and the powerful steady drumming of Cato Bekkevold. I can't praise the quality of the sound but, considering the place is not meant for a metal concert, I will even dare to say the sound engineers did an admirable job with all the rain and the wind. What I can't say is if the crowd — who needed quite some encouragements from the band in order to make some noise — had the same impression a few meters further away from the stage.

Back to the music, it was announced that we were going to hear covers of famous songs. They indeed included “Immigrant song” by Led Zeppelin, “Red” by King Crimson, “Earthshine” by Rush, “Jizzlobber” by Faith no more and “One of these days” by Pink Floyd. With a touch of heavy sound and screams to remind us it's actually Enslaved who performs them, the songs were a beautiful tribute brought to these giants of the history of rock. And they were quite a good pick by the band, since they totally fit its progressive direction and did mix up nicely with the rest of the “regular” songs. They were also an admirable pick if you come to think of it, since not many bands would easily dare to come up with such daring choices for covers, nor would they be able to perform them with so much elegance. Oh, and if you wonder about the rest of the songs played, they are: Ruun, Giants, Lightening, Allfáðr Oðinn, Ground.

Besides the non-Enslaved songs, other unfamiliar elements I noticed were when Grutle K. gave up his bass and brought some effects pad for the Pink Floyd song, and when the keyboardist used a megaphone. Plus the fact that since we were allowed to go all over the place and take photos, I ended up taking shooting some behind the drumkit and was offered some very amusing looks and expressions by the drummer. I heard that some neighbours have complained about the “noise” ruining their Sunday afternoon, but all I can say is that I wish more of my afternoons were ruined in this manner.

A playlist with the videos I took during the show is here.

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Grutle Kjellson & Arve Isdal of Enslaved, live at Henie Onstad, Oslo
Photo: Andrea Chirulescu / studiorock.ro

By Andrea Chirulescu