It goes without saying that Skálmöld is one of the best live bands out there at the moment. I’ve said this time and time again, but when a band is having as much fun as Skálmöld clearly is onstage, how can you not have a good time too? After a few bits of bad luck (the less said about that, the better), I found myself at The Underworld in Camden for their show with Stam1na and Omnium Gatherum (entitled the Arctic Circle Alliance Tour) and after an enjoyable performance from openers Stam1na, it was time for my favourites to take to the stage.
There was a fantastic atmosphere as the introduction filled the room after the lights went down, and the roar of cheers as the six-piece took the stage gave me goosebumps before they launched into the first song of the night, Árás. The last time I saw the band (in Iceland!) they opened with Múspell and although that song also worked well as an opener, there’s something about Árás that gives the set an extra ‘oomph’ and the sound of the opening sole riff from Baldur really grabs your attention.
The set progressed well from there, with the setlist featuring a nice mix of old and new songs alike. I have to admit, whilst I never quite connected with their latest album Vögguvísur Yggdrasils in the same way as their previous three studio albums, the songs translated fantastically into a live environment as I expected they would. The aforementioned Múspell sat very nicely in a mid-set slot and one of the highlights of the performance was Útgarður – the way Skálmöld got the crowd involved in chanting and fist-pumping was a nice touch and added an extra sparkle to the song. Other great inclusions included the always-great Narfi and Að vetri.
The highlight of the set was, once again, Kvaðning, which is a track I actually have mixed feelings about! It’s an absolutely divine song, both on CD and live, but whenever I hear them perform it live I can’t help but feel a little sad because it means the performance is coming to an end…! But put simply, Kvaðning is an absolutely magical song, especially in a live environment, and the ups and downs of it really make for a triumphant end to a set.
Once again, this incredibly talented band blew me away. Already looking forward to the next time, whenever that may be!