Sitra Ahra first two shows

Quickly after Therion has announced their European shows and especially the support acts (Loch Vostok and Leprous) I bought myself tickets for their Dutch shows. Which were also the opening ones of the long series of concert throughout the old continent, including Russia towards its end (unfortunately, the support bands will no longer play the concerts after Poland). First of the two concerts was held in Tilburg, in a venue with very long and varied concert experience, hence with the possibility to offer an impressive sound and stage effects. The second show was in Northern Holland, in Groningen, this time in a smaller venue called De Oosterpoort, yet still technically great and more cozy this time.

The shows are opened by an approximately 30 minutes performance by the Swedes from Loch Vostok. I never heard them before and I haven't made up my mind yet if I will again. They don't have a bad music, but the main issue I spoke with my friends about is that they have too much of everything in it. It wasn't easy to tell if it was still the same song they played after a little while, as they tended to have long ones, with a wide mix of genres. But individually, they seemed talented at playing their instruments so there is a lot of potential there. The first concert was really static, probably due emotions, but still, it didn't catch me much. The drummer was the only one moving continuously and looking like a Speedy Gonzales. The second evening though, they seemed to have gained some confidence and started to be more alive on stage, adding some headbaning and moving around a little.

Up next on stage, after instruments change that look as if they've been rehearsed, considering the speed they take place at, we get to see the Norwegians from Leprous. I have already written a more comprehensive review of their last concert before this tour, and I recommend you read itfor more details about the band and their music. But few words about the great concerts they put together in Netherlands: they also started a bit shy, but once the crowd got into the mood for them and they warmed up with a brand new short song and one released on their current album, everybody on stage seemed more relaxed and added a lot of body movement to their fantastic instruments playing. Especially on the second night, I give them a lot of applauses for the energy they showed and I am really happy to have heard so many people in the crowd cheering for them after their short set (also about 30 minutes).

Again, quickly pick up instruments from stage, set up the last bits of Therion settings, all goes dark and booom, an epic start with the title song of the band's latest release, Sitra Ahra. From the very first seconds your ears are thrilled to hear the lovely soprano voices of Lori Lewis and Katarina Lilja and you know you're in for a great evening. Or well, greater than it already was. Everyone slowly enters the stage during the intro of the song and they all have certain outfits, making the show a complete treat. Christofer Johnsson wears his round glasses and joben, Christian Vidal, the new Mexican Shredder from Argentina (as I heard around me) dressed with leather clothes and single sleeved top (attached with pins), the girls have beautiful dresses, Lori wears a veil and Kat a nice head band with a big flower, making her devilish looks more complete; Thomas in black, his long cape and a belt-buckle with a big T; Snowy with his wrist bands with sort of knives on the sides. I didn't notice much of the bassist, Waldemar Sorychta, nor of the drummer, Johan Kullberg since they were hidden in the dark.

The playlist is a journey through Therion Discography after Vovin. The band tried to bring novelties from previous tours, yet keep hits that have always made the crowd go mad, such as To Mega Therion and Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah. Each song is full of acting, some rehearsed, some just improvised fun from the band members: Thomas licking Kat's neck, a dramatic dialogue between Lori and Thomas during Siren of the Woods, Lori playing very affected behind her piano, Thomas wearing a red and black mask for Harlequin, Snowy always coming in front of the stage to get people to applaud, raise their hands, jump; all band members shake people's hands every now and then, point at familiar faces in the audience. And speaking of audience, it was really impressive to see people in their 60s dancing and being so happy at those concerts. No idea if they are Dutch fans or parts of the band's friends/families, but they were a genuine surprise for such a concert. It's true that Therion probably doesn't have a fan base with many members under 20 or 25, but I wouldn't have expected that.

Since they are so many on the stage, I can probably fill pages with details that I remember. And then ask my friends to write some as well, because I am sure I missed a lot. But I can mention a surreal long melodical scream from Thomas during Abraxas, Christian Vidal's fingers on the chords of his guitars making you wonder if he actually has about 10 on each hand. Also his facial expressions when he puts all his passion in his solos. The drummer and his kit are way up in the back of the stage and you can hardly see the person behind all those cymbals. Yet, you can surely see a huge tom to his right, tom that is almost vertically positioned. And of course, you can hear his tight playing and incredible amount of fills used in the songs.

I have made some videos at these two shows, I placed them in a playlist on youtube and I think it's probably better if you try to notice the details yourself, make an impression and go buy a ticket to a show close to your city. Knowing how serious Christofer is about his work, I am sure he doesn't settle for any low quality, hence probably all concerts of the show will offer a high standard show, both from Therion and from the two young support bands. I will personally see them again in Romania and if it had been possible, I would have seen every show and most likely wouldn't get bored. A playlist with the videos I filmed during these two concerts can be found here:

Photo gallery here. Photos taken by Frank Wijers

by Andrea Chirulescu