Although Ensiferum have visited the UK for one-off shows and festival appearances, it feels like it’s been a while since they last graced our shores for a more thorough tour but thankfully 2016 saw a return from the Finnish fivepiece, with them bringing Estonian folk metallers Metsatöll along for the ride too.
Due to Sound Control’s early curfew because of the club night happening afterwards, the gig got off to a relatively early start with Metsatöll taking to the stage at 7:15, but thankfully the turnout didn’t suffer and the band played to a sizeable crowd. The vibe throughout was great, with plenty of people dancing and getting involved with the music, and it was a lot of fun to be involved with! Unfortunately, however, the setlist did suffer a bit in the latter half – it seemed that they played all their stronger songs, such as <emKülmking, Metslase Veri and the massively energetic Sõjahunt in the first half of the set. Additionally, their choice of closer Metsaviha 2 was a bit of a lacklustre end to the set. Although this is a great song and it was by no means a bad performance, it didn’t feel like the right song to close with due to the largely slow pace and repetitiveness of it. However as a whole it was a good performance from the fourpiece and worked well at getting the crowd ready for the headline act.
Ensiferum took to the stage to cheers from the audience and almost immediately launched into a performance of Axe Of Judgement, getting things off to a running start. It was for fourth track From Afar that the room really came alive, however, with the floor opening up for some sort of hybrid mosh-dance pit and next up was one of my personal highlights of the set, Warrior Without A War. There was something so magical about witnessing it live and the hearing the passion in the clean vocal delivery in the chorus was spine-tinglingly good. Another great inclusion was Ahti, which got another tremendous reaction from the crowd, and the amount of people singing along and punching the air was something to behold.
An element of Ensiferum’s show that’s always refreshing to witness is how well the band works as a unit, even with a slight lineup switch-around on this tour due to accordionist Netta taking keyboardist Emmi’s role for the immediate future. The four non-static members made great use of all the space on the stage, frequently interacting with one another and switching between microphones so that people on both sides of the crowd could see everyone, making for a more involved performance as a result.
After a particularly animated version of Two Of Spades and crowd-favourite Twilight Tavern, Ensiferum left the stage for a brief while before returning for an encore – but not before Netta encouraged the crowd to cheer as loud as they could! It was a real treat hearing Into Battle included in the set, and the night came to a close with set staple Iron, and the roof practically lifted whenever the crowd sang along to the prominent “TAT TA DADA, TAT TA DADA” line!
All in all, a great night – it’s always a pleasure seeing Ensiferum live.