Eluveitie + Omnium Gatherum + Seven Spires @ Club Soda

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With line-ups extending around the corner and along Sainte-Catherine Street by the time I arrived at Club Soda, the venue for tonight’s entertainment, I chose to delve into the Montreal Poolroom – a century-old diner that serves us artery-clogging delights, such as hotdogs and poutine. There was still more than an hour before the show was scheduled to begin, which made the sight of such a gathering a little surprising.

Prior to the pandemic, people in this fine city would often skip the opening acts and arrive just in time for the headliner to take the stage. Of the many things that have changed since then, is that people now appreciate what they had more, having had everything stripped away from them for two years. Two curfews that locked them tightly away in their homes. This phenomenon is something I have noticed at the last dozen or so shows that I have attended – opening acts now play to the properly filled rooms, as they should.

By the time Boston’s Seven Spires walked out onto the stage, the Club Soda was filled to the brim. People sat on the balconies at the back and the sides of the venues while the seats along the walls by the downstairs bars soon too were taken up. The floor filled quickly as the night began.

Of the three bands on the tour, this is the one I know the least about, but after such a solid set, one that I fully plan to explore. The musicianship on display was incredible, and the vocal range of Adrienne Cowan was astounding. How easily she can switch from a beautiful clean passage into a raspy black metal-esque growl is shocking and enticing. Seven Spires inspire me. Truly a talented band that write notable and memorable material. I left their set a fan.

I have seen Finland’s Omnium Gatherum on several occasions, but tonight they seemed more inspired than on previous nights. Tonight was the night that Omnium Gatherum absolutely stole the show. Playing melodic death metal infused with doom metal aspects, the Finns played to the crowd – whisking their instruments skywards to rip fantastically intricate riffs and solos, sometimes having Markus Vanhala and Nick Cordle playing back and forth in an incredible display of skill and showmanship.

For the entirety of their set, it was clear that the band members were having as much fun as the rest of us were. Smiles and silly antics on stage, playful jests abound. All while playing fantastically melodic metal that I truly appreciated. Omnium Gatherum were in fine form. Starting off with Frontiers was great, but ending off with The Unknowing was brilliant. Pelkonen jumping off the stage into the photo pit to high-five and fist bump as many people as he could reach was a great moment that the fans at the front won’t soon forget.

Switzerland’s Eluveitie embarked on this current tour without their frontman, Chrigel Glanzmann, who had to abandon the tour due to a last-minute family emergency. In his absence, Fabienne Erni, the other singer of the band, takes on the lead vocal duties and will be helped by two special guests throughout their sets. Adrienne Cowan from Seven Spires and Jukka Pelkonen from Omnium Gatherum.

Surely – this changed the dynamic of the band, but all things considered, this trio made the best of a difficult situation and rose to the challenge. Any concerns about Glanzmann’s absence were soon put to rest as Erni walked out on stage and slayed the Montreal audience. Her powerful vocal range at the forefront of the stage, playing a setlist that was obviously geared more towards the songs on which she features more prominently, and with Cowan and Pelkonen at her side for the rest – all was good and well.

The many instruments that Eluveitie encompasses are even more impressive on the live scene, with the hurdy-gurdy, violin and bagpipes bringing so much to the audial levels of Club Soda. It’s practically impossible not to have a good time with so many talented musicians contributing on stage at the same time – and with the addition through subtraction on the vocal front, Cowan and Pelkonen were formidable in helping long-time Eluveitie fans forget that Glanzmann was absent. Hopefully, whatever family emergency it was that has kept him off this tour resolves quickly and happily, and he and his family can return to their normal lives.

Starting with Exile, Epona and Omnos gave Erni her chance to be front and centre, and she blew the crowd away. Cowan was heavily applauded for her rendition of Deathwalker – and Pelkonen played the part of Glanzmann flawlessly. In turn, the mosh pit opened up, and a rowing extravaganza broke out – which is still something I find quite amusing. For those that don’t know – what happens is everyone sits cross-legged on the floor and simulates the rowing of oars on a Viking longship – something that, until now, I have only seen at Amon Amarth and Alestorm gigs.

Capping off the night with Inis Mona was the perfect ending for what had been a fun night. Given the difficulties this tour has faced, I can’t imagine a better bill than the three bands that joined up to make this night – and presumably every other night on this tour, simply magical.

It had been a great night, right up until the end. However, getting out of the venue proved to be a nightmare of epic proportions. When a venue demands that everyone in attendance use the mandatory coat check, they should have a plan to get everyone back their coats and jackets in a timely and organized manner. This is far from what happened. Instead, the line-up, or huddled masses as there wasn’t any clear sign of organized anything, much less a proper queue, were stuck waiting to exit the venue for close to an hour.

Being that this was a weekday and the metro system was about to close for the night, many began to display their frustrations at the situation.

Review & photos – Kieron Yates

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