Live Review: Moonspell

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Moonspell // Underworld, London (UK)
Words by Anastasia Psarra // Photos by Miguel de Melo (courtesy of Heavy Music Artwork)

Love them, hate them or anything in between, a live show by Moonspell is never a casual affair. The band has the ability (or gift?) to reflect the emotions of its audience, delivering a performance that resonates personally with everyone. The Portuguese wolves returned to the Underworld for a special two-night show, playing the cornerstones of their career so far; Wolfheart and Irreligious in their entirety on each night respectively, along with a ‘best of’ setlist.

Chapter 1 – Wolfheart – Marking Territory
Over 20 years ago, the release of Wolfheart encapsulated the spirit of a Portuguese band in a metal scene dominated by British, American and German bands. On this night – almost a quarter of a century later – in a small but iconic venue at the heart of London’s alternative scene, Moonspell reminded us why the world fell in love with their sound in the first place, and why they have managed to retain a loyal pack of fans across the world.

From the gothic romance of ‘An Erotic Alchemy’ and the ritualistic ‘… Of Dream and Drama’, to the twin folk Goddesses ‘Trebaruna’ and ‘Ataegina’, and the epos of ‘Alma Mater’, the band has masterfully balanced the polar opposite subgenres that crafted Wolfheart. The heaviness of the black metal elements, the melancholy of the gothic sound and folk brushstrokes came to life on the Underworld’s stage, through a performance that didn’t leave you much room to breathe as it spread a sinister vibe across the room. The band marked its territory with the release of Wolfheart in the 90’s, and experiencing it performed live in its entirety all these years later, it still felt like a personal statement made by the group. A performance that felt personal and engaging, yet conveyed the mysticism of the album.

Chapter 2 – Irreligious – Reaching Maturity
Descending into the Underworld for the second night of Moonspell’s offering, expectations were high following the previous evening’s performance, with the audience growing more and more impatient, eagerly awaiting the second instalment. Moonspell re-emerged onto the stage to fill the chalice for their thirsty fans submitting them to the intensity of Irreligious. Everything that went into the creation of this album could be found there that night with theatrical choruses, perfectly executed guitar solos, and the band performing as a tight unit throughout the night.
Watching them perform an album as diverse as Irreligious in its entirety is a testament to their dynamics as a band. Going from the heaviness of ‘For A Taste Of Eternity’ to the effortless gothic gem ‘Opium’, and the least performed in a live setting ‘A Poisoned Gift’ did not only require the band’s musicianship to be on top form; it demanded the ability to dive in head first in order to be able to re-create the emotional maturity of the record. The crowd seemed to be caught in a trance throughout Moonspell’s set and by the time the band completed their irreligious communion, all stories of desire and will had been told.

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