Very occasionally, everything about a gig can fit perfectly into place to make for a spectacular and more than memorable event that will stick with you for a long time, and tonight is one of those momentous occasions, where London-based Mothlite set the scene perfectly for the evening’s proceedings. The live collective, featuring multi-instrumentalists Daniel O’Sullivan, who has also written and performed with the likes of Sunn 0))), Aethenor and later plays live guitar with Ulver) and Antti Uusimaki, along with a plethora of other excellent musicians providing live drums, programming, keyboards, clarinet and a haunting combination of male and female vocals, perform what could be described as dark, ethereal, multi-layered ambient-yet-intense soundscapes, with a toe slightly dipped in psychedelia, that echo and reverberate around the wonderful acoustics of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg provided additional live vocals to one song (one of the few times he could actually be ‘seen’ tonight), engendering rapturous applause from the audience, to which Daniel O’Sullivan commented “he’s good isn’t he”; indeed he was, but Mothlite truly deserved their support slot tonight and their 2008 release ‘The Flax of Reverie’ is certainly worth discovering.
Friday 9th October 2009
Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, UK
Tonight marks a unique opportunity to see Ulver, at their first ever performance in the UK, following their renowned set at the Norwegian Festival of Literature in May this year, their first in 15 years. With the stage shrouded in darkness aside from minimalist back-lighting silhouetting the band, the performance starts with ‘Little Blue Bird/Rock Massif’; a track further enhanced, as were many this evening, by poignant and occasionally disturbing projections on the rear of the stage. Taking their setlist from more recent albums such as ‘Shadows of the Sun’, ‘Perdition City’, ‘Blood Inside’ and ‘Teachings in Silence’ rather than their earlier black metal days, truly showed what a unique and thought/emotion provoking band Ulver have evolved into. This was a performance where the effect of the whole audience experience had seemingly been taken into consideration, and the concentration was not, as are most concerts, on individual band members (and with the minimal stage lighting, you only noticed fleeting flashes of each member, including two drummers playing in tandem, and the incredibly talented theremin playing of Pamelia Kurstin), but on the experience as a whole, and to an extent, time and set list was irrelevant as you were drawn further into their incomparable conceptual art. The evening concluded with a mesmerising performance of ‘Not Saved’, accompanied by projections of a revolving record morphing into footage of a young boy staring into the audience and the haunting drones of Kurstin’s looped theremin which then gradually faded into silence and darkness. Despite a standing ovation from the audience, Rygg announces that they have no further tracks to play, and to be honest, there didn’t need to be an encore, as tonight was simply perfect in every way, and watching the faces of people walking out the venue was enough to see that. In a way, words, nor photos or footage of the gig will ever properly do the experience justice, but if the chance ever occurs again to see Ulver live, especially in such a setting, go.
Reviews by Hannah Sylvester