Covid-19 wiped out all the tours and festivals for spring and summer 2020 and Insomnium was forced to cut their North American tour with Omnium Gatherum short only after one show. On Friday May 29th, 2020, the band arranged a special live stream show, performing their 40-minute concept album Winter’s Gate (2016) in its entirety. Musicalypse grabbed a front row seat from our couch to follow the show.
Tour after tour, festival after festival – the previous months have been filled with news about music events being cancelled because of COVID-19 (which was obviously the right thing to do). To ease their fans suffering due to these cancellations (and their own suffering from financial catastrophse as well), several artists in Finland and abroad have begun to offer live streamed gigs. Among them are Insomnium, who decided to perform Winter’s Gate as well as some songs from their first three albums: In the Halls of Awaiting (2002), Since the Day it All Came Down (2004), and Above the Weeping World (2006).
As this was my first live streamed show, I had several thoughts crossing my mind as I signed into the keikalla.fi -platform. What would the sound quality be like? Would it feel weird to sit on the couch with earphones on and just stare at my computer screen? Would it really feel like I’m at a gig?
As the band appeared on my screen and started playing Winter’s Gate, I soon found myself nodding my head to the rhythm. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of sound; I have no idea about the technical effort a live stream requires but I would think they didn’t just set up their usual gear and roll cameras. The visuals were in order as well: the angle of view was changing and everything ran smoothly. Only when the chat went wild (between songs and when the gig itself ended) were there some twitches on the stream.
With the technical side in order, the live stream proved to be very pleasant and functioning. For me, Insomnium has always been a band that is just perfect for those final slots in summer festivals when the sun is setting, you’ve had a great day, and are ready to just grab a drink and enjoy some music in calm and peace. This time around it was a bit too early for the sunset, but at least I had my drink and I was enjoying the show in calm and peace. In other words, the style of the music was simply perfect for such a format.
It was also great to notice that the band itself was really playing a live show, not just standing in front of cameras wondering if anyone was watching. Vocalist/bass player Niilo Sevänen even threw in a little “scream for me” during the show – and the chat went wild. Guitarist/vocalist Ville Friman was missing from the assembly since he is living in the UK and thus couldn’t travel, but Jani Liimatainen stepped in to cover the clean vocals.
After finishing Winter’s Gate, the band continued with the older material. Based on the reactions I saw on the chat, “The Gale,” “The Day It All Came Down,” and “Daughter of the Moon” received particularly exciting reactions from the viewers. After the show, the band came back on camera to enjoy some beverages while following and answering questions on the chat. The band members seemed to be in a good mood and guitarist Markus Vanhala even stated that it was surprisingly fun to play to an empty hall. They also revealed that they had come up with some new songs even though it still remained unclear whether they would end up on an actual album. It remains to be seen whether we will see a flood of new albums next year as bands have to cancel their tour plans.
At the moment, no one can tell when will be the next time we’ll get to enjoy live music in clubs and festivals, but based on this experience, I consider live streams to be a surprisingly good substitute in these circumstances. It also got me thinking whether this could become a real opportunity for bands in the future as well. Live streams also give an equal opportunity to attend a show, which could be especially important to those music lovers who might be disabled, are underage (since most gigs and some festivals have an age limit), or maybe live in a country where their favorite band just never comes. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, remember to support artists and give live streams a chance!
1. Winter’s Gate
2. The Gale
3. Drawn to Black
4. The Day it All Came Down
5. Daughter of the Moon
8. The Elder