INSOMNIUM and OMNIUM GATHERUM have faced a lot of challenges due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bands were forced to cancel their American tour after they had just arrived in the country. Being among the first bands to be financially hit by the pandemic, the band decided early on to host a livestream with both bands lined up for fans to enjoy on 10 April 2020.
Unfortunately, it seemed as though in some twisted mind game, the universe had different plans for these bands once again. While a lot of fans had gathered in front of their screens on Friday at 19:00, something clearly was wrong. The third-party streaming provider had technical issues and it seemed like it couldn’t handle the capacity of the eager fans who wanted to watch the shows first-hand. Hours later, the bands decided to go on with their shows, but publish the video later for those who had bought a ticket. The very next day, the event organizers had posted a statement, apologizing to the fans and assuring everyone who wanted a refund for the event, they could claim it.
The frustration that resulted from all the technical issues surrounding their shows was simply heartbreaking because both the band and the production team behind it had worked towards this moment for weeks. Nevertheless, both bands didn’t give up and they were not planning to be defeated just yet. A lot of that mindset is clear in the stream – the raw energy and stress that all these musicians were able to put in their performance lifted things to a higher level.
OMNIUM GATHERUM started their show with the intro for “The Burning Cold,” leading into “Gods Go First.” Clear from the start was that the band had magically transformed all their worries into an energetic and powerful show. As dynamic as always, you wouldn’t have been able to tell that the band didn’t have an audience in front of them to watch their every move. A lot of songs came from their latest album such as, “Gods Go First,” “Refining Fire,” and “Over the Battlefield,” but the band also did not shy away from playing older material.
Having seen OMNIUM GATHERUM now a handful of times, the band is most known to me for their intimate and energetic shows. Frontman Jukka Pelkonen is a true showman and guitarist Markus Vanhala is entertaining to watch while he swirls around his guitar. Due to the lack of an audience, I felt that the performance was a tiny bit more reserved, but still, the band was high on energy. It was great to see guitarist Jani Liimatainen replace Koto who has left the band and he was a great addition to the vocal harmonies as well.
All-in-all, OMNIUM GATHERUM played a dynamic show under a great amount of pressure, which made their performance all the more stronger.
- The Burning
- Gods Go First
- New Dynamic
- Soul Journeys
- Over the Battlefield
- Crystal Mountain (Death cover)
- Be the Sky
- Refining Fire
- The Unknowing
Finally, it was time for INSOMNIUM, who started with a fantastic rendition of “Valediction.” Because of the livestream, the vocal harmonies were more pronounced and clear in the mix, which I usually miss a little bit during live shows. This is definitely something that made the song stand out to me. After the energetic opener, frontman Niilo Sevänen spoke to the audience and welcomed everyone watching the stream, explaining they want to play some songs and they are never giving up. The short but clear speech was followed by “Pale Morning Star,” which is arguably one of their best songs, not only from their newest album, “Heart Like a Grave.” The eight-minute journey into the Finnish melancholy was played with emotion and became one of my personal highlights already early on in the show.
The previous performance with OMNIUM GATHERUM had somewhat eased Jani Liimatainen and Markus Vanhala‘s minds and they were again being their energetic selves and showing the world how great their dynamics are together. After the new material, INSOMNIUM focused on an old track, “Through the Shadows.” Normally the band leaves the melodic chorus to the audience and I certainly missed fists pumping in the air, but nonetheless it was a great performance.
Next the band played “The Killjoy” from “Above the Weeping World,” a nice addition to a well-balanced setlist. Sevänen explained that the fans voted for the setlist and they would play the most-voted songs. The next song was also an older one, “Down with the Sun.” The fans clearly had voted for a great combination of old and new songs, with a lot of classics. “One for Sorrow” was definitely a surprise to me, but the slower track definitely worked well and served as a bit of a break in between intense songs. With Liimatainen now on clean vocals it sounded a bit different, but his voice blended in very well with Niilo Sevänen‘s growls.
“Ephemeral” was their first nod to the excellent “Shadows of the Dying Sun.” After a slower song, “Ephemeral,” with its contagious melody and almost danceable rhythm. the band introduced “In the Groves of Death,” which was the longest song the audience had voted into the setlist, allowing both guitar players to indulge in several intricate duels.
I wasn’t really surprised that the most voted song of the setlist was “While We Sleep.” The song is just an incredibly catchy anthem that has a strangely uplifting power and by now is almost an iconic song in every INSOMNIUM setlist. Jani Liimatainen surprisingly grabbed the mic to thank the audience to be there during the worst of times. To round up the set on a high note, the band played “Heart Like a Grave.” While the band didn’t play the beautiful acoustic album this time around and trusted on the backing track to do so, Markus and Jani kept their cowboy hats and played the beautiful melodies of the song. The atmospheric moment served as a perfect ending to a very intense night.
Both bands played shows while they were under a huge amount of stress and disappointment, but dare I say even in difficult times, music has the power to heal and it was clear in their performances. While they usually already have incredible shows, the stream was top-notch with great production, including atmospheric lighting and great camerawork. Lastly, I want to encourage every fan to support both bands even harder in these difficult times – buy their albums, buy their merch!