PAGAN FESTIVAL – DUDLEY JB’s 8th April, 2008

After an horrendous ninety minute rush hour bus ride from Birmingham to Dudley, I arrived at the club just as opening act Tyr were finishing their first song.

This four piece from the Faroe Islands treated us to thirty minutes of stirring Viking Metal, sung mostly in Danish (with a couple of English tunes as well); an excellent start to proceedings that was well appreciated by the crowd. Considering the shamefully early hour (Tyr finished at 7:15) they got an excellent reception from the already slightly inebriated assembly.

After just a fifteen minute change over, Swiss eight piece Eluveitie exploded onto the stage and performed an absolutely outstanding thirty minute set. It’s very hard to describe their brand of folk death metal, including as it does bagpipes, whistles, violin, a Bodhràn, and a hurdy gurdy (wielded by hot chick Anna Murphy). Not too sure of the set list, but I think I recognized ‘Dance of Victory’ from the ‘Spirit’ CD. They certainly left an impression, finishing with a fantastic ‘Pagan Metal’.

I saw Finns Moonsorrow make their UK debut last month in London as support to Children of Bodom at the Spinefarm UK launch night. Tonight’s performance benefited enormously from improved sound, and the boys from Helsinki led us through a superbly intense forty-five minute set. They opened with Sankarihauta, and threw a bunch of favorites at us including Haaska, Jumalten Kaupunki and a wild Kivenkantaja near the end.

The crowd had swelled to near-capacity by the time the Finnish forest clan Korpiklaani launched into ‘Journey Man’, which was the cue for nearly an hour of non-stop dancing and beer chugging. I counted at least five separate drinking songs, including ‘Beer Beer’, ‘Wooden Pints’, Let’s Drink’, and the fantastic ‘Happy Little Boozer’. These inspired me to purchase my sixth Becks Vier of the evening – at £2.40 a pint, the refreshment was more than a little more reasonable than Birmingham Academy.

We were also treated to a couple of excellent numbers from the new CD ‘Korven Kuningas’ – they sounded great. Rumour has it that there aren’t any drinking songs in this new release. I am taking mine back if that’s the case. Korpiklaani were absolutely outstanding, I can see this lot being very big indeed before long.

Unfortunately due to the lousy West Midlands public transport after 11 o’clock, I had to choose between missing Ensiferum and sleeping in the grounds of Dudley Zoo overnight. I chose the bus, and was advised later by text that they played a blinding hour-long set that didn’t quite surpass Korpiklaani’s brilliance.

Overall a mighty fine night, I hope some of these come back on their own soon. In the mean time if you can get to one of these shows you won’t be disappointed.

By Roy Evans