Amon Amarth LIVE!!!
The Wonder Ballroom – Portland, Oregon – 4/19/2011
If you’re anything like me, you went, “What’s The Wonder Ballroom”? There’s little to no info online about it and the staff was less the knowledgeable (or helpful for that matter) about it as well. But as far as I can tell, The Wonder Ballroom wasn’t prepared for this crowd. Case in point: Opening the doors at 7 p.m. and then for some unknown reason, pushing the start date to 8:30. Fuck you! There was no reason for that. Everything was set up and the sound check was already complete. All you did by doing that was stirring up a bunch of rowdy teenagers and frat boys… yeah, I was in good company by the way.
And what’s this? Two bars? Really? There was plenty of space upstairs! Thanks for barricading a quarter of the floor off. It really makes you feel safe knowing that a sneeze can knock down the barrier that’s supposed to keep you from being smushed between the two crowds. Dumbasses.
And speaking of dumbasses, there was an old crackhead looking roadie (there’s always one) that was hitting on some bleach blonde bimbonic bitches that doubled as obvious jailbait that were trying to get back stage… is this an Amon Amarth show or a Ratt concert? Argh. But enough of my bitching, let’s get to the show!
Amon Amarth - If you loved Surtur Rising, then you’ll want to catch this tour. They play it in it’s entirety. And while I can see the appeal for most Amon Amarth fans (and critics after reading the numerous glowing reviews for Surtur Rising), I don’t much care for hearing whole albums outside of my living room. I just doesn’t sit well with me. But I was merely one person in a sea of hundreds of rabid Amon Amarth fans that were eating all this up! It was one part awe inspiring, one part pathetic the way Johan Hegg was able to get the crowd to scream as loud as possible by raising his hand above his head, then silence them all by lowering it… again and again. I’m sure his smile was visible from the up stairs bar.
After finishing up Surtur Rising, the Swedes took a twenty minute break. During this break, some house music blared overhead though one of the worst sound systems I’ve ever heard. I should probably point out that this did indeed but a damper on the overall enjoyment factor of the show since Olavi Mikkonen and Johan Soderberg’s guitars were as muddled as Ted Lundstrom’s bass is in the albums. So what you basically heard was Hegg barking out lyrics with clear as day drums going on around a storm of chaotic discordance of guitar and bass. But since everybody knew the material so well, it didn’t really seem to matter.
Anyway, back to the house music: Pantera, The Haunted, Slayer, At The Gates. Sounds like a metal karaoke-fest, right? Nope. Nobody sang along like they at the Von Doom show a month back… until Black Sabbath’s War Pigs started. It started off small with a group of guys singing in the middle of the floor. But it grew and grew until finally the crowd’s “Oh, Lord Yeah!” overpowered the PA! Black Sabbath. Uniters.
After that bit of metal brotherhood, Amon Amarth returned to the stage. This is what I was waiting for. They played a bottomless mixed bag of old favorites, starting off with a few from Twilight Of The Thunder God, then moving all the way back to Once Sent From The Golden Hall. Before playing Asator, Hegg took a minute to poke some fun at the upcoming Thor movie. “They don’t even call him by his real name!” Hilarious.
After about a half an hour of songs that I only have lukewarm feeling for, they finally played all of my favorites… in a long medley. Damn it! Really? The only thing that marathon of Norse mythology showed me was how similar most of Amon Amarth’s songs are. It was kind of a downer to end the night on. But on the plus side, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger band play with as much appreciation for their fans and have as much fun while doing it than Amon Amarth. That put a smile on my face the whole ride home.
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