The concert that took place at Oslo Spektrum on May 28th 2011 might have been once in a life time experience, considering the amount of work, preparations, rehearsals and arrangements that are needed to make it happen. Of course there's going to be at least a TV airing of it, if not a DVD, but the live atmosphere and goosebumps are not properly reproduced by a digital media.
About 9700 people fit in the arena for a regular concert, but there were probably way less since the scene needed for all the orchestra and choir members was rather huge. But there was still a decent amount of people, some standing in front of the stage, others sitting on the chairs displayed like in a regular hockey arena, a thing that is not so bad after all since it offers good visibility. A big curtain was hiding all the stage, but once people started spotting silhouettes picking up their guitars and raising their horns in the air, they exploded with joy. And were nicely rewarded by Xibir, the opening song of the band's latest album, Abrahadabra. Even if this album is full of symphonic moments, none of it sounds the same way it sounded that evening. Maybe having the visual of the bows moving at crazy speeds over the violins plus the bunch of people in the choir dressed in black robes made it sound so unique.
The band took over the middle of the stage, in their regular mean outfits and the makeup from the latest concerts. The instruments of the orchestra were to the left and the 'monks' in the choir to the right. It was hard to follow everything, but it was interesting to have so much to look at. And to be honest, I can hardly recall if the Shagrath&co did anything spectacular in their show as my eyes were always lured in the direction of the percussionists, the conductor or the violins. Alas, when I managed to watch the band, it was very special to see their fast headbanging and hear the crazy drum blasts, while the symphonic music nicely filled the background. The main complaint I would file would be about the volume for the choir. Rather low, too hard to hear at times together with the guitar riffs and the drum beats.
It was not a long setlist, it only lasted for about 1 hour and a half, but again, it's not the same thing to rehearse songs with 5 bandmembers as it is with hundreds of people and 50 different instruments. The songs played, as far as I recall, were (after the intro):
Gateways (with Agnete Kjølsrud from Djerv doing the female vocals)
Dimmu Borgir (both versions, orchestral and with the band)
Eradication Instincts Defined
Progenies of the great Apocalypse
Fear and Wonder (orchestral)
Kings of the carnival Creation
Mourning Palace (with an awesome intro)
It all ended on the rhythms of Perfection or Vanity and the crowd gathered in the hall from all over the world (Australia, Chile were two of the places named by Shagrath) and of all ages (I've seen kids from about 3-4 years old to people over 70) offered an intense round of applause in return for the evening's performance. If I want, I can find stuff to complain about, because it wasn't perfect to the last detail. But instead I'll simply give my applause to everyone involved in making this event possible and I hope that if it ever occurs again, you all get the chance to see it.
I leave you with a playlist with the videos I took during the event: http://www.youtube.com/p/1196CC1FEE82FC91?hl=en_US&fs=1