As we enter Musikkflekken, a 300-capacity arts venue just outside of Oslo, we realise that tonight’s concert could have filled a venue twice the size of this one. The place is absolutely packed to the rafters. This is no surprise, however, as tonight’s performance offers a triple bill of some of the best prog that Scandinavia has to offer.
Bagging the early slot are psychedelic folkers Tusmørke, who’ve made quite a name for themselves with their darkly humourous songs about medieval history. Tonight the mighty Momrak brothers dedicate the whole set to one song, the gargantuan Sankt Sebastians Alter. Their memorable performance includes a glorious orgy of viking chants, Gong-like flute freak-outs, heavy riffs and occult weirdness. They are even augmented by guest musician Øystein Gadmar who plays hurdy gurdy, flutes and sings – in full chain mail. They are certainly one of a kind, and worth catching live for visual appeal alone.
Wobbler appear next. We reviewed one of their recent concerts a few issues back so we don’t want to repeat ourselves, but suffice it to say that their finely tuned and highly complex prog has the crowd completely enthralled. Moving through myriad emotions and dynamics, they give a masterclass in modern prog rock, highlighted by Andreas Vilthagen’s ever-impressive vocals.
As the dust settles, the main attraction enter to ecstatic cheers – it’s Stockholm stalwarts Änglagård’s first visit to Norway since 1993. St Starting with the lengthy, partly ambient track Introvertus Fugu Part 1, the band showcase their sense of subtle dynamics and drama, led on by Anna Holmgren’s seductive woodwinds. As they shift gears on the classic Höstsejd we miss original drummer Mattias Olsson’s intricacies and deftness. New drummer Erik Hammarström, while adept, has a more direct style that works well during heavier sections but feels
a bit heavy-handed when the music is at its most ornate. However, as the performance progresses such concerns are quickly forgotten as the band move into a sequence of ‘greatest hits’, beginning with a track from their 1992 debut Hybris, Vandringar i Vilsenhet, where guitarists Tord Lindemann and Jonas Engdegård shine with grace and precision. Next comes Kung Bore, also from Hybris, with its gothic pomp and funereal atmosphere perfectly conveyed by the band.
A final encore is a personal favorite, Sista Somrar from second album Epilog. Its peculiarly Swedish melancholy sweeps through the audience, creating a hushed atmosphere during the opening keyboard section, beautifully played by Linus Kåse, before exploding into a firework of symphonic ensemble playing that is the very essence of this unique band.