In life as a music fan, and my career in music journalism I have seen countless shows. Add in the number of concerts I played in my feeble attempt at a music career, and that number jumps up a few notches. In that time I have been lucky to witness most of my favorite artists of all time in some shape or configuration. There are only a few of them left on the bucket list that I haven’t yet seen, or may never get to. However, I got to scratch a big one for me when Wardruna embarked upon their recent tour of the USA, only their second string of dates ever.
I had been fortunate enough to see Wardruna main man Einar Selvik perform solo, give seminars on ancient instruments and Norse history, and also perform with Enslaved at the amazing Enslaved 25th Anniversary show in new york city in 2016. But I feel a real connection with Wardruna’s music and I have since I first heard the band. It is so primal, natural and heavy without being so “metal”. But then again what could be more metal than this gorgeous music, expertly performed in the nose native tongue, just moves me and definitely evokes the same feeling I get listening to black metal, good old school thrash, or death metal.
The Town Hall is a gorgeous venue and one that is not known to have a lot of acts of this ilk in their hallowed halls. At the same time, a lot of metalheads who love Wardruna were definitely amused by the vaulted high ceilings, alabaster paint and gold leaf adorning ever archway, banister, and aisle. Fans packed inside the front entrance of the venue where the merch table was set up. This may have been one of the few opportunities ever to buy merch direct from the band in America like this. Needless to say, they were sold out of most merch by the end of the night, where the band dutifully autographed everyone’s stuff for an hour. Some fans did suffer from “metalhead in the wrong place” effect where they shouted out things during the entire performance, and talked over the band, even when Einar was speaking. I get it, I was caught up in a moment too, and having too good a time. Plus, you know jugs of vino and beer aplenty.
As we filled in the hall it hit me pretty hard that I was about to see this band. The hall was vast and i was fortunate enough to be right up front, but I looked as if there wasn’t a bad seat in the house. There was a gorgeous earthy looking handmade textured backdrop and the darkened stage helped set the mood.
The band came on to the stage in darkness and went to their instruments. From the first notes of ‘Tyr’, the entire audience let out a collective roar. It was hard not to get emotional as the gravity of what was happening hit me. Coming right back with ‘Wunjo’ was also mega impactful and inspiring. The entire band were incredible, with crisp performances that were natural, but also amazing. Shout out to Lindy Fay Hella for her incredible vocals and her fierce, physical performance the entire night.
The “evening with” format was perfect. I know not every band can pull this off, but Wardruna did and then some. Playing both well-known and deep cuts from the entire “rune trilogy” was truly amazing to behold. Seeing this incredible band perform tracks like ‘Bjarkan’, ‘Heima Thurs’, ‘Isa’, ‘Jara’, and ‘Fehu’ was unbelievable. The band got a five-minute standing ovation before coming out for an encore.
After playing ‘NaudiR’, the crowd would not leave and again stood, cheered and chanted the band’s name until they came out again. They played two more songs, ‘Odal’ and finally ‘Helvegen’ from Einar’s Snake Pit Poetry (By Norse) release before the crowd would allow them to leave. The band thanked us all, took a collective bow, and left us needing more of this in our lives.
WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES
PHOTOS BY HEATHER WILKERSON