Live Review: Katatonia – Wolverhampton

Live Review: Katatonia – KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton
14th February 2023
Support: Solstafir, SOM
Words: Cat Finch
Photos: Tim Finch

The start of this year has seen a flurry of tours that are finally happening having been postponed numerous times thanks to the pandemic. I’ve lost track of how many times the Katatonia/Solstafir co-headline tour was supposed to happen, but this cold February evening it finally does and we’ve come along to the West Midlands premiere music venue – KK’s Steel Mill – to catch it.

Openers SOM set the scene for what is about to come. The stage is dark, the band lit by low rear lighting leaving them casting silhouettes as they launch into the opening number. The shoegaze masters mesmerise, juxtaposing heavy with mellow, side by side these two pathways run, entangling themselves with each other throughout the bands short performance. A great way to start out the evening.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

It's a rarity to see Solstafir on these shores – outside of a handfull of London gigs or appearances at Damnation Festival – so to witness them in the home of metal is a special event indeed.

The co-headline tour sees them take to the stage first, but with a set worthy of closing out the evening. From the opening notes of 'Náttmál' the audience are in a trance like state, eyes fixated on the magnificent beard of Aðalbjörn Tryggvason or the flowing braided locks of Svavar Austmann.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

But it’s the music that does the talking, exquisite fret work aids the band in depicting their Icelandic folk tales. Sweeping movements in sound, aided by the vision of magnificent lighting helps set an atmosphere in the venue like few I have ever seen. There is no pit, not flailing of arms or beating of chests here, just an audience transfixed on a band in their prime.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

It is hard for any band to follow that, but Katatonia have that unenviable task this evening. The Swedes released latest opus ‘A Sky Void of Stars’ to critical acclaim last month and aim to follow it with a performance to match.

They start the set with the opening track taken from the aforementioned album, ‘Austerity’. An up tempo number from this melancholic outfit they draw a sense of power from their music, an energy that acts as a shining light through the gloom and fog created by the smoke machine.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

The guitarwork of Anders Nyström and Roger Öjersson shines through on this set, providing a direction for the band to follow. ‘Behind The Blood’, ‘My Twin’ and ‘Untrodden’ stand out on an evening where nearly every note played has stood out in its own right. Katatonia up their game, the set just as encapsulating as those that have come before it, creating an aura in the Steel Mill fans can get lost in.

All too soon the set is drawing to a close, an encore driven by ‘July’ and ‘Evidence’ rounds out a suburb evening on dark, gloomy, melancholic heavy music.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography
Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

All photo credits: Tim Finch Photography

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