Tonight’s Enslaved show at The Underworld was not just another Enslaved show. It was part of the three day “London By Norse” event which celebrates Norwegian culture and music abroad, it commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution and, more dear to us metal heads, the 25th anniversary of Enslaved. Unsurprisingly, the event was sold out. Tonight’s Enslaved show concentrated on the “middle era” of the band, focusing on albums: Ruun, Isa, Below the Lights, Monumension and Mardraum. The night before the Norwegian act presented a set based on their first albums while the night after – where they performed with Skuggsjá and Wardruna – focused on their latest releases.
Helheim’s energetic performance impressed me; especially after enjoying the release raunijaR last year. A short set but it was short and sweet as they say, enough to impress everyone present with both old and new tracks. The most impressive and touching for all was the cover of a Bathory track, “Home of Once Brave”, which saw everyone sing-along to and raise their horns (or beers).
The main attraction tonight were the birthday boys from Enslaved. While there was no birthday cake or confetti flying around, there was a strong festive atmosphere. The band member’s humorous attitude in-between songs perhaps resonated most throughout the show. Whether it was a joke about “beach boys in capes” (the answer: Ghost), not having anxiety in London or drinking “apple juice” in-between songs, you could tell that the band was having a blast. This also reflected in the audience, with one guy especially not being able to stop shouting out “Enslaved!” even if Grutle Kjellson (vocals/bass) replied humorously that he knows what his band is called but thanked him anyway for reminding him.
The tracks performed included “Fusion of Sense and Earth”, “Ruun”, “Return to Yggdrasil”, “The Crossing” and, to the loud cheers of everyone, a song which they have never performed in London and only the second time ever: “Heavenless” (which also saw Grutle drop the bass and take out the keyboard). Regardless of the fact that many were requesting and shouting it out throughout the show, “Isa” was not performed. Overall, it was an amazing show showcasing the best of the “middle years” of Enslaved’s catalogue. It was a wonderful site seeing them play so energetically with so much passion and joy. Having seen the band quite a few times at bigger venues or festival stages, it was a pleasant experience to see them go back to their roots at a small and intimate venue. 25 years later they still play with smiles on their faces as if they just started the band yesterday.