CONCERT: Moonspell @ Glavclub
Venue: Glavclub, RU
Genre: Gothic metal
In keeping with an unintended tradition of first-time-abroad concerts (Brazilian band in Norway, Swedish in Austria), I decided to welcome my time in Russia with a concert of Portuguese goth metal stalwarts Moonspell, who happened to be playing in St. Petersburg the first weekend I got there. Tickets seemed reasonable for their gig at Glavclub (1200 rubles/£26/$40 on the door), and despite not being overly familiar with their sound (I gave Sin/Pecado a spin once a few years ago), I figured I’d tag along.
First impressions when arriving at Glavclub is that it was not a tiny venue. There was seating at the back, and easily could have fit 1000 people there if packed. The bar was a bit on the pricey side, but what got to be most was the bartender’s seeming unwillingness to serve an English person, despite the fact that I was speaking Russian to him. No matter, on with the show. The stage itself was already set up, and a large full-moon projection set the atmosphere for what was to come*. It looked fairly spacious as a stage, although I wasn’t going to fight for front row given most people were in Moonspell shirts.
It seemed odd to me that the concert was taking its time to start, but it became clear at 9pm that there were no support bands as Moonspell walked on, launching into “Wolfshade”. What we got was a 17-song set spanning their 20-year discography, although heavily reliant on the first two albums Wolfheart and Irreligious, and the band were completely in their element with all of it, despite some of the banter being lost on the audience. Vocalist Fernando Ribiero looked fairly lupine in his jacket and fingerless gloves as he delivered both menacing snarls and melancholic baritone cleans, while guitarist Morning Blade provided a powerful back-up scream with some cool solos. On the other side of the stage, Pedro Paixao was constantly shifting from guitar to keys and bassist Aires Pereira was a dead ringer for a younger Shane Embury. Finally, Miguel Gaspar could’ve been a drumming version of Tuomas Holopainen, although my eyes may have deceived me. The band’s sound was almost pristine except for a couple of spoken-word sections from Ribiero that were swallowed, and it was remarkable watching the fans go crazy recognizing a song purely by its keyboard intro.
As per the other shows on this tour, Moonspell promised a couple of older tracks in their setlist, and also exhibited a preview of “Lickathrope” from their upcoming album Alpha Noir. That said, the classics were still present, including a beautiful rendition of the cleans-only “Scorpion Flower” with Anneke’s vocals on tape, and the title track from Night Eternal was even more crushing than the studio version. “Herr Spiegelmann” resulted in hand-mirrors being waved at the audience by Ribiero in an Ozzy-like fashion, then things went a little strange after “An Erotic Alchemy” (one of the rarer tracks). The band launched into “Trebaruna”/”Aetigina”, both tracks more in the vein of folk metal, and got more than a couple of jigs out of the metalheads, but it was a little disconcerting after the keys-drenched goth of before. Finally, after multiple calls for it mid-set, they ‘closed’ with “Alma Mater”, and the crowd went completely insane (I even saw a moshpit emerge), before the band walked off for a breather.
Despite skipping out on their more experimental releases (Sin/Pecado, The Butterfly Effect), Moonspell still found time to play an incredibly old track as the kickstart to their encore (“Tenebrarum Oratorium (Andamento I: Erudit Compendyum)”), before closing with “Mephisto” and “Full Moon Madness”, leaving the crowd ecstatic and a new-found fan from yours truly.
N.B. Sorry, video quality isn’t great.
*I myself was unaware of the band’s penchant for wolf-related songs.
Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)
Lickanthrope [taken from upcoming Alpha Noir release]
An Erotic Alchemy [never-before-played in St. Petersburg]
Tenebrarum Oratorium (Andamento I: Erudit Compendyum)
Full Moon Madness