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Unfortunately, I miss both support acts tonight (Swallow the Sun and Long Distance Calling) due to interviewing commitments, so Katatonia provide my only dose of metal this evening. And it transpires to be a dose of the Swedes' at their sublimely melancholic best. Performing in the small confines of Rock City's tiny basement room, with the large amount of eager fans present in what looks like a sold-out (or damn well near sold-out) venue, it's a pity the gig wasn't upgraded to the larger hall upstairs. Still, it makes for a more intimate, intense experience, albeit a hot, sweaty and cramped one. Opening with 'Forsaker', first track from incredible new album 'Night is the New Day', Katatonia's set contains the expected fan favourites like 'My Twin', 'Evidence', 'Ghost of the Sun', 'July', 'Criminals', 'Soil's Song' etc, but also with the occasional surprise such as the rarely played live - actually, I believe for the first time on this tour - 'Saw You Drown' from 1998's 'Discouraged Ones'. Minimally lit and performing to a backdrop of bare brick, there is an air of "stripped down" about tonight's show, particularly as long-time members Fredrik and Mattias Norrman are now absent from the band after their recent decision to quit. However, this is far from a criticism as new live recruits Per Eriksson and Niklas Sandin both do a fine job on guitar and bass respectively and, alongside frontman Jonas Renkse, guitarist Anders Nyström and drummer Daniel Liljekvist deliver a set of contrasts for which Katatonia have become much loved - dark melancholy, alluring melodies and quasi-prog elements all combine through mellow/heavy twists and turns in richly layered soundscapes that resonate magnificently around Rock City's small basement. For it is all about the music tonight which the audience lap up with eager indulgence, even breaking out into the occasional mosh pit during some of the songs' heavier moments. With Katatonia's popularity still growing in the UK in 2010 (no doubt helped by last year's festival appearances over here), based on the healthy turn-out this evening, I predict bigger venue shows next time they return to these shores. A fantastic performance in all respects.
Wednesday 10th March 2010
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
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