Getting to London was not easy, unfortunately due to a fatality on the tracks I had to get a few replacement buses to get to London. Despite being annoyed due to the delays, I was determined to not let this tragedy affect the gig. But there was another (albeit minor) inconvenience at the gig, Grand Magus did not have any tour t-shirts in my size! This would be the first ever gig where I did not get a tour t-shirt in my size, and I’ve been going to gigs since 2008! I still did buy a Grand Magus t-shirt, just one without dates on the back. This was also my first time in the legendary Camden Underworld, and with the venue being packed to the rafters, it made me wonder how bands famous for large mosh pits such as Exodus play the venue without fatalities.
First from Iceland was The Vintage Caravan, whose bassist Alexander Örn Númason looked like Pete Fitzgerald from Dismanibus. Playing a hybrid of blues and prog rock, the Icelandic trio powered through an impressive set playing material such as ‘Cocaine Sally’ and the outstanding ‘Expand Your Mind’, to many amused onlookers. Despite having a memorable presence on stage, the memory of their set soon faded afterwards.
Up next was British underground heroes Asomvel, a band that had shared the stage with the likes of Carcass, Anvil and Orange Goblin in their career. With a few people singing to the likes of ‘Full Moon Dog’, ‘Trash Talker’ and ‘Cash Whore’, they certainly got the crowd warmed up for the Swedish headliners waiting in the wings. The band were quick to invoke the spirit of Motörhead with their attitude and music arrangements and frontman Conan barking at the crowd reminded me of a young Lemmy. Those who want their fix for a Motörhead-esque band should certainly give the band a hearing.
Asomvel were certainly a lot of fun – while their setlist felt repetitive, their set was too catchy and fun for me to care. Asomvel certainly left an impression, their late frontman Jay-Jay Winter would certainly be proud.
Now it was time for the band we had all been waiting for. Would the hellish journey be worth it? The answer was of course, yes. Marching out one by one on stage, frontman JB certainly looked strange with long hair and without his sunglasses. But none of this mattered by the time they launched into ‘Kingslayer’, sending the fists of every person into the air, who chanted ‘King Slayer Rise!’ along with the band. Following it up with ‘Sword of the Ocean’ and new song ‘On Hooves of Gold’, the band showed no sign of relenting. The band played hits such as ‘Ravens Guide Our Way’, which the audience were more than happy to sing for them, as well as the titanic ‘Like the Oar Strikes the Water’, spliced in with new material. A few fans kept yelling for new song ‘Steel Versus Steel’, so naturally when the band played it their voices were heard up front yelling every word. But I don’t think the band expected that the whole venue would join with them, a future addition to the live set perhaps. Ending with the sing-alongs of ‘Valhalla Rising,’ and ‘Iron Will’, the band departed but returned for their inevitable encore. When they returned they played new single ‘Triumph and Power’ and arguably their biggest song ‘Hammer of the North.’ As the sweaty hordes walked out singing ‘Woah-ho’ into the streets of Camden, the journey was certainly worth it in the end.