It’s Sunday night, but that hasn’t stopped a horde of Pain Of Salvation fans heading out into the heart of New York for the last day of their US tour promoting new album In The Passing Light Of Day. After sets from New York’s Edensong and Pennsylvania’s Next To None, the Swedish prog metallers are greeted by deafening screams. And they repay the warm welcome with tongues firmly in cheek.
“We’re Pain Of Salvation and we’re going to make you feel miserable,” announces frontman Daniel Gildenlöw with a grin, “but in the best kind of way!” Not only is this the last gig of their US tour, but it’s also bassist Gustaf Hielm’s birthday, ensuring that the band are in a celebratory mood throughout the night.
The choppy, irregular rhythms of both Full Throttle Tribe and Reasons perhaps aren’t the most accessible way for the Swedes to begin the evening, but the force and volume of their riffs ultimately overpower their abstruseness, not least when the former ends with a fraught, discordant clattering of drums from Léo Margarit. Later, A Trace Of Blood perfectly demonstrates the band’s ability to ebb and flow between darkness and light, heaviness and tenderness in their music with the utmost ease. This is followed by Rope Ends and Beyond The Pale, and again shows the way in which Pain Of Salvation flow between extremes. The last named track ends in a whirlwind of noise, only to be followed by the maudlin, plaintive strains of Silent Gold, a beautiful moment that’s soon forgotten when Dream Theater legend Mike Portnoy – whose son drums in aforementioned support act Next To None – takes over the kit for Ashes, much to the delight of both crowd and the band.
The abrasive, chugging riffs of On A Tuesday bring the main set to a close, but the crowd are far from satisfied. They chant “seven more songs” impetuously until Gildenlöw reappears. He runs through a touching and almost unrecognisable proggy rendition of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, before the rest of the band join him for an epic run-through of The Passing Light Of Day, the closing track of the new album. Tragic and romantic, tender and celebratory, universes end and worlds begin within its 15 minutes, after which the night comes to its inevitable end. All the crowd can do is sing a jovial happy birthday to Hielm and unwillingly make their way home.
In all, this is a night that accentuates in the best possible way the manner in which this band really stir everyone’s emotions. A triumph for all involved.