The epic-sounding German folk metallers Equilibrium stormed the upstairs room of Islington's O2 Academy and proved just how to have a fucking night out. Here's what we learned...
Equilibrium, live in London
Venue: Islington O2 Academy 2
There’s a serious lack of elbow room in the Academy 2
As it is the trend in folk metal to incorporate as many authentic instruments as possible, the number of musicians required inevitably starts to grow. So when Norwegian folkies Trollfest take to the stage – there’s seemingly about ten of them – the actual size of the tiny Academy 2 stage is amplified to rather comedic effect. Violinist Sareeta is valiantly trying not to impale any of her bandmates with her bow while also dodging accordions, guitars and god knows what else, but the fact is Trollfest are clearly here to have a good time, so in the end it basically turns into a free-for-all somewhat reminiscent of a primary school orchestra practice. Black eyes all round – good thing they’ve already got their face paint on.
The kazoo is now a folk instrument
As if there weren’t enough of them up there already, a few songs into the set Trollfest are joined by another female vocalist and friend of the band who, apparently determined that if she’s on stage with Trollfest she may as well be doing something absolutely ridiculous, promptly whips out a fucking kazoo – you know, that authentic Scandinavian folk instrument – and joins in the silliness. Not that any of this lot care – when it comes to folk metal, Trollfest are definitely at the ludicrous end of the scale, best saved for muddy festivals and beer-drinking. Still, on a Monday night you can’t really argue with any band that gets people doing a jig like they don’t have to be in the office at 9am tomorrow.
Equilibrium show everyone how it’s done
Kicking off with Was Lange Währt from their latest opus, the magnificent Erdentempel, Germany’s Equilibrium have achieved a perfect balance of symphonic bombast with elements of blackened folk which together create a vast, powerful and classy version of an otherwise not super dignified subgenre (see: trolls and kazoos). With just a shade more gravitas than their Norwegian support, these guys clearly take their craft – but not themselves – very seriously, and it shows. The element of fun is most definitely there, however; it comes from the band’s easy, self-deprecating rapport with fans, their obvious delight just at being able to play tonight, and the infectious nature of their hooky, folky tunes. The catchy Uns’rer Flöten Klang is particularly lovely, while Karawane is super heavy.
Tonight’s show almost didn’t happen
But we’re rather glad it did. Bassist Jen solemnly announces at one point that the band almost had to cancel the show, and if the Academy crowd’s reaction to this is anything to go by, it would have been a bit of a tragedy if they had. The Germans have some seriously dedicated fans over on these shores, and for good reason; it’s always exciting to watch a band in an intimate venue like this just pour everything they’ve got into their performance. By the time they close with Aufbruch, they are literally pouring sweat – somebody buy these guys a beer. They’ve earned it!