Insomnium/Omnium Gatherum Livestream Concert Review

Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum were two of many unfortunate bands caught up in the fallout from the global pandemic, having to cancel their North American tour before they were able to play for the likes of Madam X, Dr. WvrmMuppet, and myself on their swing through Massachusetts. When they announced they would be livestreaming a concert on Good Friday as a way of reaching out to fans, myself and several other AMG writers were eager to support the endeavor and pay witness. The idea of them performing to a largely empty hall adorned solely with cameras was certainly novel, and I wanted to see how it all played out. The concert was scheduled to begin at noon Eastern Standard Time and since I’m privileged enough to be able to work from home through this crisis, I planned to watch the show on one monitor while working diligently on another. As concert time arrived however, massive technical issues with the streaming service played havoc with their best laid plans, preventing the bands from taking the stage. After a frustrating few hours of trying to log in as the bands sat around awaiting developments, the livestream was cancelled. Instead the bands ended up recording the show and making it available for viewing afterward, offering refunds for those unsatisfied with this concession. Though disappointed, I mostly just felt bad for the bands, as they tried to do something interesting for the fans but were let down by technical issues beyond their control.

I ended up watching the concert this morning, and it was very well done. Each band got an hour-long set with great sound and professional camera-work. Omnium Gatherum came out first and you wouldn’t know they were playing to an empty concert hall based on the effort they put into their performance. It isn’t until they finish the opening song only to be met with complete silence that you remember there’s no one there except a camera crew. It’s a surreal moment and frontman Jukka seemed a little unsure how to act at first, awkwardly intoning “Hello everybody out there somewhere in the internet,” and later on, “Thank you so much, wherever you are.” It’s all very weird to be sure, but so are the times we’re living in lately. Omnium‘s set is very tight, energetic and fun considering they had zero crowd enthusiasm to feed off of. Having seen them live several times before, they manage to approximate their normal stage energy, which is admirable under the circumstances, and the only real downside comes via some unsuccessful clean singing efforts. Stand out moments include rousing performances of “New Dynamic,” “Soul Journeys”, “Be the Sky,” and closer “The Unknowing” is a no-brainer win. The ultimate high point however comes when they run out a cover of Death‘s legendary “Crystal Mountain” and throw themselves into it with abandon. It’s such a blast to hear the song done live even if it isn’t by Death, and the band does a great job channeling the song’s wild, corkscrewing insanity. This moment alone made the ticket price worthwhile in my opinion.

Insomium have a notably less dynamic set, but they have the advantage of a set-list voted for by their fans, which is fan service if ever there was such a thing. Opening with “Valediction” off their recent Heart Like a Grave opus, the band sound tight and their brand of moody, melancholy melodeath is perfect for the rainy, stormy Monday morning I’m experiencing. Vocalist/bassist Niilo remarks that the band “really wanted to play for you guys, and we’re not giving up easily.” and indeed, they do their fans proud with a playlist sampling their lengthy discography well. They even dust off the 10-minute epic “In the Groves of Death,” off Above the Weeping World. My favorite moments come with “Pale Morning Sun,” “Through the Shadows” and the excellent rendition of “Heart Like a Grave” that closes the show. Unlike their opening act, Insomnium regularly try to rally the unseen audience, with Niilo yelling “C’mon!” and throwing his hands in the air. The whole situation is so bizarre that such attempts at normal live show behavior actually come across as comforting rather than odd or silly. The band takes a moment at the end to give heartfelt thanks for the support fans have been giving them and it’s clear that they genuinely mean it.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable concert with both acts acquitting themselves well under very unusual circumstances. Would I have rather witnessed it live? Of course. Do I think I’m owed a refund? Not at all. The recorded concert was well worth the price of admission, and since the whole point was to support bands I love, it was money well spent. And that’s the big take away here, folks. We need to support our favorite bands, now more than ever. Cancelled tours and the inability to play shows is a real financial disaster, and whether it’s livestreamed or recorded concerts or online merchandise, now is the time when we need to do all we can for the bands that we care about. This crazy metalverse is one big, dysfunctional family after all, and we’re in this mess together. When you keep this in mind, the distance between you and the bands playing to empty halls doesn’t seem quite so vast. Now excuse me while I press replay and watch this thing again.

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