Review: Katatonia live @ P60, Amstelveen

Katatonia is finally on tour again and last Saturday I had the chance to see them live at the P60 venue in Amstelveen (a town bordering on Amsterdam). Katatonia is one of my favorite live-acts, not because they have such a great stage-show, but because they play their live-shows with passion and intensity. The songs get an extra dimension on stage; the depressive and melancholic parts become even more so and the heavier sections get an extra aggressive edge. This enhances the contrast between the two, which is already a key element in their music.

But anyway, on with the show… I’d never been to P60 before, but I have to say it’s a very nice venue. Not too big or small, nice and dark, and they turned part of the balcony into a smoking area with a glass barrier so you can still see and hear the show; very clever!

Opening acts were Long Distance Calling and Swallow the Sun. I was unfamiliar with Long Distance Calling, but these German post-rockers played the best set of the night! Their instrumental songs sound complex and proggy, with a lot of influences from bands like Katatonia, Opeth and Tool, but also some Rush and other prog-bands.

Next up was Swallow the Sun. These guys are excellent musicians and the music they make should appeal to me – a mix between old and new style Katatonia, with a touch of My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost, covered with touches of melodic black metal. But on stage they didn’t manage to bring the music to live. All the parts were nice, but it lacked any spirit, power, passion or whatever you want to call it. Also their sound was a lot more muddy than Long Distance Calling, which made us fear that the same would happen to Katatonia…

After a short break the guys from Katatonia took to the stage. I hadn’t kept up with the news from the band for a while, so it was a bit of a shock to see two unfamiliar faces walk on stage instead of the Norrman brothers, who apparently left the band a while ago. The first song, Forsaker, had pretty bad sound at the start, but it was all fixed before the song was over. The first few songs were all from the new and the previous album and quite mellow too, so the concert didn’t really get a jump-start. Unfortunately, the new songs didn’t really convince me, while normally I learn to really appreciate new Katatonia songs in a live situation. Maybe it was because of the new members or maybe they just played it safe, but the new songs didn’t have the extra edge they normally give their songs live. So far it was slightly disappointing, at least compared to previous Katatonia shows, but then Jonas announced they had prepared a very special song for tonight and Anders (Blakkheim) played the fragile opening chords of Saw You Drown! I don’t think I’ve ever heard that song live before and it was great! The rest of the audience really seemed to like it too, as they went wild for the first time. Another great surprise was For My Demons, which was even gloomier and more depressive than on the album and Jonas’s vocals were spot on. Another highlight was a very speedy version of Teargas. It was a shame they didn’t perform Sweet Nurse. It slightly disappointed me that the new songs didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped. A large part of the crowd seemed to love the new songs, but the songs I mentioned before got the best response – as far as I could judge from within the audience.

Here are some clips from the show (not shot by me) .


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