Wardruna @ Corona – 4th February 2018

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The sold out house sat seated at the Corona Theater, which in itself is something I have never witnessed prior. Children sat besides adults young and old, many of whom had come in medieval garb and were swilling beer from horned cups. I can imagine the confusion at the bar as folks requested their beverages placed inside the hollowed out animal part. Then again, anything is preferable to that of drinking from a flimsy plastic beaker.

Wardruna were to be the only act on the night and honestly, I would be hard put to name an artist that would fare well opening up such a spectacle. With dimmed lights emerged the six members and solemnly began a drum beat and the the silhouettes of two horn players could be seen on the backdrop that adorned the rear of the stage. Einar Selvik, the former Gorgoroth drummer took to the front of platform and would remain there for the entirety of the set.

The crowd was made up mainly of people you would expect to find at a Black Metal show or a medieval renaissance fair, yet the closest instrument to a guitar to be found was a violin. Wardruna rely heavily on rhythmic drumming, beaten out on two large floor toms that look to be made of animal skin, a variety of horns and similar wind instruments and what I am probably mistakenly about to call some form of harp.

At times I would find myself sat with my eyes closed and enjoying the trance of the beat and flow of the rythum. Chanted Norse vocals created a further degree of ambience and atmosphere. The evening often felt more akin to a ritual than to a concert and that was in part the charm of the performance.

Already a fellow drawn to days long passed – the musical arrangements on offer from Wardruna struck a chord with my heart. I wasn’t alone. During a pause which seemingly was mistaken for the conclusion of the set, a rowdy round of applause erupted and led to a standing ovation and a raucous cheer. The musicians on stage seemed bemused and perhaps even bewildered. Einar Selvik took to the microphone to share a few words, about how the group wasn’t about romanticizing the past but for rekindling the lost songs of an old culture. That many old cultures on the planet once had sings for all occasions and those had been lost – so new ones needed to be made. Then he announced the next song was to be about death and the act of dying and he wondered who would song for him once he had died and was crossing plains to the next realm. What followed was a fantastic piece of music and another standing ovation.

“I’m not from Canada”, Selvik said, “does that mean you would like to hear more?”. Another ovation was the response and the band played on. This time ending the night with a “special rendition” of a tune from the group’s first album. The fourth ovation was the longest yet, and lasted while the musicians exited the stage.

It truly felt as if the Montreal audience had done something the band wasn’t expecting nor were accustomed to, and that is something I am proud to have been a part of.

“Normally I would say we look forward to returning but we will be back here in three days” spoke Selvik , an ode to the fact that Wardruna had added a second show to their tour follow the rapid selling of tickets from the first night. Perhaps Selvik’s appearance on the hit television show Vikings (Which Wardruna has also supplied a large amount of music to) led to a rabid gain in popularity, or maybe his time with Gorgoroth, but whatever the case may be – the demand was so great that the band will be returning on January 7th after a quick trip up to Boston.

I urge anyone that missed out on the field at night to find a way to witness their return. This is not the sort of event that comes by often and the experience of catching Wardruna live is formidable and incredible. While most artists sound best of a recording; the reverse is true in this case.

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