Korpiklaani w/Support @ Club Academy, Manchester

Korpiklaani, Metsatöll and Andraste
Club Academy, Manchester
2nd February 2013

Part of Korpiklaani’s extensive European tour, in support of the new album, Manala, brought them to the Manchester Academy – More specifically Club Academy – with their touring support Metsatöll. At the beginning of the part, before the local support act, Andraste began their set, the venue looked empty with the handful of bodies in there though the crowd soon doubled, tripled and more in size.

Manchester’s own folk metal act Andraste opened up the night, with some significant changes since I’d last seen them play almost a year ago. The addition of the violinist, whose name escapes me, added an extra layer of folk-infused sounds to their already domineering northern Celtic sound. The northern war band played a number of catchy tunes, blasting out their heathen ballads of days and myths gone by with expert precision. The folk-choir vocals performed by four members of the band during in some of the songs provided efficient reinforcements for the blistering guitar riffs and storming percussion that thundered like Taranis’ wheel. The folkier elements, conjured by Coll Féchin, added a touch of easier listening to the war-like anthems and added emphasis to Atticus’ guttural and haunting growls. One thing about Andraste’s set that really did catch me off guard though was the newer material that was inclined towards the progressive side of the band’s sound but it still proved to be enjoyable, almost breath taking. Andraste certainly lived up to their Celtic deity’s namesake that night as they sent their heavy, folktastic anthems screaming forth unto the horde that was amassing. [4/5]

Unfortunately, I missed the beginning of Metsatöll’s set due to an attempted interview with the headliners, Korpiklaani. By the time I was back into the area where the band were playing, they were already progressing through their set with the crowd warmed up them greatly. I hadn’t check the band out before the gig so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect though I’d heard good things about Metsatöll but those good things didn’t do the Estonian metallers justice. For want of a better word, their set was truly majestic, displaying a beautiful fusion of heavy guitar playing and the more melodic folk-inspired sounds of the flutes and bagpipes. The vocals had a mystifying quality to them – A quality that entwined itself within the strength of the vocals, helping to add that extra oomph to the band’s performance. Hopefully Metsatöll will come back to British shores again in the future. [4.5/5]

With the crowd whipped into a near-violent frenzy, Korpiklaani took their respective places on the stage. The Finnish metal outfit proved to be entertaining enough, blasting out their accordion-and-violin plastered songs with a waterfall of charisma and energy flowing from the frontman, Jonne. The vocals were quite gruff throughout the set but that added more feeling to the songs, especially some of the darker sounding ones and suited the drinking songs (like Vodka) extremely well. The riffs were a strong, driving force throughout the band’s performance, going toe-to-toe with the violin and accordion, as well as the heavy, boisterous drum work. The insanely fun to jig along to song Vodka proved to be a crowd favourite until the sound cut out, though that was no fault of Korpiklaani’s. The highlight of their set, for me, was the performance of the leek spinning song, properly known as Ievan Polka. The band certainly made that song their own that night in Manchester. [4/5]

Between three great bands and a lot of drunken pits and alcohol-influenced jigs, mostly encouraged by Korpiklaani, I think it’s safe to say that it was one hell of a gig and certainly is going to rate as one of the most memorable gigs of the year and possibly the next decade.

Nico Davidson

Photography by Nico Davidson. Pictures of the entire gig can be found atthis location.

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