Manchester’s Academy 3 has played host to a number of great acts over the past few years, and tonight is no exception with Insomnium’s return to UK shores to do a full tour as opposed to ‘one-off’ or ‘a few dates’. With this being night three of their ten-leg tour and their first performance in Manchester in 3 years, the atmosphere in the rapidly filling room is one of anticipation and excitement.
Prior to the Finn’s set however, we’re treated to one of most aggressive aural assaults this side of the hemisphere. Midland’s based riff-monsters Conjurer on paper make for an odd-choice of opening band. Then again, Insomnium had The Black Dahlia Murder supporting them on their recent European tour so it’s not too left-field for them. Having a sound that can only be described as heavy with a visceral twin vocal attack and down-tuned guitars, the band preferred to let the music speak for them with little to no gaps in their set.
Admittedly, their use of strobes, whilst fitting with the music, was a little overpowering at times with some members of the audience having to cover their eyes on occasion. And on the topic of the audience, their response to the band was a bit of a mixed bag. Some people were really digging it and having a great time, whilst others were a little bemused with one commenting “I thought this was a melo-death gig.” That being said, towards the end of their set the audience in attendance had warmed to them and seemed to have rather enjoyed their performance.
After a short changeover and the AC being turned on to cool the room, it was time for the Finns to take to the stage. It felt somewhat poetic that Insomnium were playing on a cold windy Monday night that’s been dubbed in popular culture as “Blue Monday” with their music being quite emotion-evoking. Clearly some members of the crowd were feeling this with a few in tears at the majestic music being performed in front of them.
Opening with “Valediction” from latest album Heart Like A Grave, Insomnium spent no time at all showing the crowd exactly what they were all about. The sound of the music in particular was much crisper and cleaner than on previous occasions. This was due to, as Jani Liimatainen mentioned in our interview earlier, switching to Axe FX for front of house sounds. Speaking of Jani, he did a fantastic job on clean vocals with some of the more challenging sections being performed perfectly. Unlike the previous band, Insomnium had no qualms with taking a short break in between tracks to address the crowd and promote some of their rather nice merchandise they had for sale.
Continuing on after the message with a setlist comprised of fan favourites and a few deep cuts such as “Into The Woods”, the quartet (yes quartet, Ville was not performing with them on this run) delivered what can be considered one of their finest performances on UK soil. The only complaint which was heard from some audience members was that the set wasn’t long enough and that “an evening with Insomnium would be amazing.” Food for thought possibly.
Photos by Ya Cheng Photography from the Glasgow concert