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ULVER - Nosturi, Helsinki, 26.02.2010

Gallery: Ulver

Fifteen years of existence and not a single live show. That’s Ulver for you – a cult Norwegian band that had started in 1994 by playing black metal and now evolved into something so avant-garde, that I don’t want to risk putting it in borders of any certain music genre. If you listen through the band’s discography up to day, you will be quite amazed by the metamorphose their music had undergone. After releasing their 7th full length album in 2007 “Shadows of The Sun”, two years later Ulver finally decided to come out of the shadows and into the spotlight. They played their first live show in May 2009 in Lillehammer, Norway. The shadows dissolved and the band went on a European tour.

Helsinki was one of the lucky destinations on the list and welcomed Ulver for two nights in a row. The first show in Nosturi on the 26th of February was completely sold out. We went to see the second show next day – the last gig of the tour - and the club was once again quite full. ulver
The audience consisted of a rather wide variety of people: from your usual metalheads to cyber-goths to electro-bright-coloured-hair dudes to men in suits. What kind of a band mustit be to unite all these people from completely different worlds?

The show in Lillehammer started with a “Forgive us” message on the screen. This message changed throughout the tour. Clearly there was nothing to ask forgiveness for from the Finnish audience, so they decided to tell us something different. “We come as thieves” said the blinking screen and I wondered what is it that they are trying to steal? And is it more valuable compared to what they were about to give us that night?

Ulver started the set with “Eos” from “Shadows of The Sun” album and a video of the sunrise on the background screen. It looked like the sun was rising to the call of Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg’s voice. I got a feeling that if the sunrise had a sound of its own, it would be “Eos”. Next followed “Let The Children Go” and we found ourselves somewhere in African savannas, watching the lions implementing the food chain plan with the zebras. The videos changed with each song, and as the band was staying in the darkness most of the time, it was quite easy to forget that there was anyone else except you, the screen and this unbelievable music. ulver
Although at times the videos were too disturbing for my taste (a video of the victims of Nazi concentration camp, for example), and then I paid attention to what the band was doing.

One of Ulver’s guest musicians was Pamelia Kurstin who played the theremin. I have never seen or even heard of such an instrument before and it was quite an experience to watch someone basically play…air. Garm had a laptop, a gong and a timpani drum made of animal skin to accompany his strong, yet lulling voice. There were about 7 people on stage altogether: the band and the guest musicians. They didn’t walk on their hands or breathe fire, they just stood there, playing their instruments, but there was something about it that it was impossible to avert your eyes from the stage.

Contrary to some expectations, Ulver didn’t perform anything from their black metal past. The set-list mostly consisted of the songs from the albums “Shadows of The Sun”, “Perdition City” and “Blood Inside”, with a few exceptions. The second-to-last song was one my favourites “Like Music” – the stage was lit with red light and it was pure and simply beautiful. The last one was a 10-minute track “Not Saved” and I was glad it was so long, because nobody wanted to leave. After that all of the musicians came to say their last good-byes and raise their drinks to celebrate the end of the tour leg.

They came as thieves and gave us the most unique moments, just to be gone back in the shadows. But they will step out again in summer during the Flow festival. So come and watch Ulver make magic with their music.

Report: Tanja C. | Pictures: Jana Blomqvist

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