Following the Epic Metal Night on 25 February and the Mead and Greed Festival last week, the third live event in 2022 was on the agenda for Aidan and me. After four years, I found myself back at the Matrix in Bochum. I have to admit that the venue is not one of my favourites in the Ruhr area, but when Primordial ask for a dance, you can count on me being there. In my opinion, the Irish are one of the best live bands in the world. There are only very few artists who always manage to captivate their audience with such intensity. I may mention in advance that this was not any different last night.
But let’s start with the prelude: Reasonably, the concert organiser had decided to demand a same-day Covid19 test from the visitors. In my opinion, this is a path that should be followed in the coming months in the interest of everyone. The prospect of becoming infected is a nightmare scenario for many bands – witness Skull Fist, among others, who are therefore skipping their European tour with Enforcer and Ambush. As Aidan, his special guest and I arrived at the Matrix around 7.15pm, we missed Rome. However, we saw the entire set of the melodic doom/death metal band Swallow the Sun, who stepped in for the originally planned Black Metal legends Naglfar from Sweden. Like at the Hammer of Doom 2019, the Finns were unfortunately unable to thrill me – and the fact that the sound was far too quiet added to the problem. One or two times during this gig I nostalgically thought back to Primordial‘s last guest performance at the Matrix, when Moonsorrow were supporting… But since many people enjoyed Swallow the Sun, it was probably just my own taste that got in the way (Aidan, according to his own statement, could also get a bit enthusiastic about one or the other song). Anyway, the wallet is glad if you don’t run eagerly to the merch stand after every gig.
But let’s get to the essentials: Primordial! Unfortunately, their performance also started with a certain disappointment: guitarist Ciáran was not on stage. As Alan told later, he had declared a month before the tour that he could not be there for reasons that were not explained in detail. Although his replacement, who can be classified in Alan’s camp in terms of hairstyle, did a fantastic (!) job, I still hope that we will see the founding member on the six-string again soon.
The concert itself, as indicated above, showed us Primordial in top form. Of course, this was not least due to the setlist, which was very balanced and covered almost all nine studio albums. The biggest surprise for me was “Autumn’s Ablaze“ from A Journey’s End (1998), which is certainly not one of the standards of the Irish. Apart from that, Primordial‘s choice of songs met my personal preferences – if, for example, “Sons of the Morrigan“ from the often criminally underrated Storm Before Calm (2002) is played, I’m happy all round.
The performance probably gave many visitors goosebumps: Aidan and I rated “The Coffin Ships“ as the emotional highlight during our later summary in the parking area. This is not surprising, obviously, since the unofficial Irish national anthem always goes through your spine – and is generally one of the greatest metal tracks ever. This time Alan dedicated the song to the suffering people in Ukraine – a blue and yellow flag in the audience reminded us what a great privilege it is to be able to enjoy a concert evening like this in peace without any worries.
Because I was grumbling a bit earlier: The headliner’s volume was fine and the sound was generally convincing. If you closed your eyes to concentrate on the individual instruments, you could hear everything very well. And at the same time realise (again) what a force Primordial are on stage: Passion, authenticity and class go hand in hand here. The good-humoured audience in the Matrix honoured this – as a thank you, bassist and founding member Pól made sure that “Wield Lightning to Split the Sun“ from Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014) was inserted before the obligatory closer “Empire Falls“ (I don’t know if this had been planned beforehand or not). It was fine with me – the band could have played another hour for all I cared…
Conclusion: Aidan, his special guest and I experienced a memorable show that sets the bar extremely high for all other concerts this year. If you are still asking yourself whether you should visit the Heathen Crusade To Doomsday: Yes, do it – the ticket is worth every cent!