On October 3rd 2015 the ‘Revolver Presents’ tour, featuring Eluveitie, The Agonist, and Martina Edoff pulled into Irving Plaza for its final North American stop. Despite Epica’s unfortunate departure from the bill, there was little doubt that this was going to be a spectacular sendoff, especially given Eluveitie’s rare acoustic set. Plus, between Martina, Vicky Psarakis, and Anna Murphy, I was ready for a night of intense girl power the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since my brief elementary school stint with the Spice Girls.
A short set from Swedish powerhouse, Martina Edoff, opened the show. I must admit I was a little caught off guard by the 80’s driven hard rock act and noticed other audience members reacting similarly. Two in particular caught my eye, as they surrendered to violently head banging to the not-quite-moshable tunes. Nevertheless, one can neither deny the rough, bluesy vocal prowess of Martina, nor the absolute catchiness of songs like “World Has Gone Mad.”
The Agonist took to the stage next. Contrasting vividly with their predecessors, the band was loud, harsh, fast, and provided little respite onward from the first moment of their opening track “Thank You, Pain.” Vicky’s clean soprano vocals truly transform the Alyssa-era material into her own, adding a certain, almost angelic, reprieve to her otherwise brutal growls and the relentless technicality of drummer Simon McKay and lead guitarist Danny Marino. In terms of their setlist, the group featured a great deal of material from their newest album, Eye of Providence, without neglecting older tracks, including their first single “Business Suits and Combat Boots” to the obvious delight of audience members. Towards the end of their set, bassist Chris Kells took a brief moment to address the audience. “Live shows are part of our culture!” he urged, “Don’t get lazy, and keep coming out!” However with a live set as energetic and entertaining as theirs, fans of the Agonist certainly shouldn’t need much convincing.
At 9:00 the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived, as the lights dimmed and all eight members of Eluveitie filed onto the stage and opened their two-hour long set with “King.” Even early on there was an element of passion from the audience the likes of which I’ve rarely seen outside of folk metal shows. From their jigging during instrumental tracks like “An Dro” and “Omnos” to their singing along flawlessly to songs like “Slania’s Song” despite the lack of English in its lyrics, the obvious joy of the crowd seemed to mirror that of the band playing for them. Even the wall of death during “Kingdom Come Undone” seemed friendly.
But as Anna’s entrancing vocal solo during “Scorched Earth” signaled the beginning of the group’s acoustic set, I couldn’t help but wonder how the collection of metal heads in the pit would react. Front man Chrigel Glanzmann took a brief moment to explain the history and social tradition of folk music, as well as to emphasize its longevity before entering into a Celtic jig set. In a way, one could even draw parallels between his description of these customs and the legacy of metal itself; and in that moment watching an audience of long haired, leather clad fans stand mesmerized and serene at the ancient sounds of flute and fiddle was not only fitting, it was profound.
After playing through a traditional Reel set, in addition to several of the band’s own acoustic tracks, Eluveitie transitioned back into their own brand of folk metal, hitting hard and heavy with songs from Helvetios, including its title track and “Meet the Enemy.” I must admit, I was especially excited for this portion of the setlist, as it gave me the opportunity to belt out “A Rose For Epona” (a favorite shower song of mine) with reckless abandon for those around me. Thankfully for my neighbors, and myself I was far from alone in this, as the entire room echoed Anna’s vocals. Despite a relatively long run time, Eluveitie’s performance flew by, and before I knew it they were playing their encore, and easily most well known song “Inis Mona.”
Though it would have been a pleasure to see Epica live, it is clear that their tour mates took the negative circumstances that they were dealt and transformed it into an experience no one in the audience will soon forget. To say that the final night of the Revolver tour was a success would be an understatement.