Queen Margaret’s Union, Glasgow, February 11th 2019
It’s taken some time to pull this review together. Contrasting it with previous event coverage of the same touring line-up hasn’t been the easiest task, given the reduction of scale. Not being able to get there early on a work day, combined with doors being moved back half an hour, meant we entirely missed Wolves In The Throne Room, and obviously didn’t help as further factors. In all truth, though, that’s not who we were there for.
A mild minute of light wrestling to the bar, grabbing a pint, and it’s straight into At The Gates. It’s hard to get comfortable or even see most of the stage tonight. Unless you managed to get right to the front early on. Yes, it’s sold out, and we were among the later arrivals, but this really should have been a much bigger, longer room. Yet, here we are, so let’s get on with indulging in some of Sweden’s finest metal export.
Or so we thought. Three or four songs into their set, something goes wrong with the buildings electricity, and ATG have to leave the stage. Some kind of alarm is wailing, but no-one is moving, or advising an evacuation. There’s only a few minutes’ confusion before things seem back on track. Maybe it’s their defiance against the odds; Maybe it’s thinking “thank fuck they still played“, but they somehow seem more tangible on returning to the stage. More intense and alive. Adversity, it could be said, brings out the best. Finally getting in a position to see the stage is a golden moment, and in plenty of time to catch The Face Of Fear, seeing any previous negativity fade into insignificance. (A+ with gold star for perseverance)
When we get to Behemoth, the music is, as always, right on point. However, as had to be expected, the pyro has been reduced to all but nothing. As much as I’ve fallen in love with this band’s massive shows, it’s not the end of the world, and a better view is achieved in the upstairs area. Photographs are still all but impossible, meaning a minimal amount of viewing through the tablets and smartphones of others, so that’s right up my street. The sound is also better in the balcony, with Bartzebel blasting its cathedralled bombast, up through the rafters, and against the heavens. This is definitely the spot for the evening! In the end, though, I just can’t stop thinking welding sparks are not the same as flames, but it does still look cool. Once again we hear them proclaim “our joy is to see your joy“. That being the case, even tonight, they must be a lot happier than they look. (A+)
Truth be told, I’m glad I’ve seen these bands elsewhere, because, despite the fact that they put on astounding performances, the venue itself felt a bit of a poor fit. Both At The Gates and Behemoth are operating right at peak, but the Poles have the edge as a big show. People frequently ask where we can find future festival headliners. I think, in some cases, we should be looking to heavier and foreign acts, such as Behemoth. They have, I believe, outgrown venues of this size.