Live review: Solstafir at Patronaat, Haarlem, The Netherlands, May 16th 2016

Solstafír have been making a steady climb for the top in the metal scene for the last few years. Ever bigger venues and shows, and with the newest album Ótta came a more calm and atmospheric tone to their music. This evolution has been taken further once again with their new set of concertdates amongst others in the Netherlands. This time though, they are doing their concerts with a string quartet with members from amongst others the band The Ocean, and a complementary pianist. The songs were somewhat rearranged in places to accomodate these additions, but overall the music was only simply enhanced by these musicians, making the whole thing more symphonic and very, very beautiful.

The venue in the Netherlands, in the Patronaat in Haarlem, wasn’t exactly sold out but was pretty busy nonetheless. The doors were open already at half past 7 but unfortunately the concert didn’t start until half past 8, due to what seemed some technical difficulties on Patronaat’s side. The setup of the night was firstly a complete playthrough of the Ótta album and after this a selection of fan favorites, also with the complementary strings section. Solstafír were, once they got on stage, in a more mellow mood than usual; it almost seemed they reflected the atmosphere of the music. Especially Ótta benefitted heavily from the classical additions, as it is already a pretty grand and more ‘classical’ in tone than earlier albums. Again, there were still some unfortunate technical problems at times, mostly to do with the volumes of the different sections, but overall the music came across OK. The epic climaxes of certain songs with the strings screeching over it is definitely goosebump material, in a good way.

Then came a little break while on a screen onstage there came a short clip of the film Hrafninn Flygur, a Norse/Swedish film from 1984 which beautifully captures the dichotomy of Solstafír, the western-ish style combined with the nordic, snowy atmosphere. It was somewhat weird to have the film inbetween but in the end it was fitting with the mood of the night.

The last set was a welcome variation on the night. When the band came back onstage the difference was palpable, and the audience was in for some more upbeat rock ‘n roll to end the night. More of their older songs were played, but also classics like Fjara were amongst the setlist; they cannot do without. Godess of the Ages was, as traditional, the closer of a very awesome night. The classic addition will hopefully result in a live dvd, or hell, even a cd would be awesome. Here’s to hoping!

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