The German-Danish-Norwegian Nordic-Ritual-Folk band Heilung are on Europe fall tour right now and I had the great experience to visit their show on the 26th of October at the Colosseum Theater (Essen). It was such a really strange feeling to cross the glamorous entrance hall of the Colosseum Theater on a red carpet with a lot of other metalheads dressed fully in black.
The opening act was the Spanish Forest-Folk band Sangre de Muerdago. With their very atmospheric medieval sound they succeeded in enchanting large parts of the audience.
When Pablo C. Ursusson (guitar/hurdy-gurdy) made a short speech about the next song he was briefly interrupted by some spectators talking loudly and laughing. It is really rude not to pay due attention to an artist. If you are not interested in the opening act you should at least not disturb the performance, just saying. I really liked to listen to the band and their music, definitely makes me want to hear more of them.
Before Heilung came on stage, a man appeared who spread smoke into the crowd and the room with an eagle wing. The whole room was filled with a pleasant scent of wood and forest which put the audience in the right mood. Maybe it’s some kind of ritual to drive away evil spirits.
As the band entered the stage they stood in a circle and Kai Uwe Faust spoke the following words which were repeated by the others together:
“Remember that we all are brothers. All people, beasts, tree and stone and wind. We all descend from the one great being. That was always there. Before people lived and named it. Before the first seed sprouted.”
It was unbelievable that after the first drumbeats you felt moved to a different place and time. The many details in the self-made instruments, props and ornate costumes are very impressive, the overall concept of the band is totally unique. Through the many different instruments such as drums, bones, spears, rattles, horns etc. you get to hear sounds and loud that accompany you into another world.
When the wild contrast between the viciously sounding laryngeal vocals by Kai Uwe Faust the mystical whisper by Christopher Juul and the lovely clear vocals by Maria Franz set in, it’s pure goosebumps. A good example of this is the song “Krigsgaldr”. While the sound of rattling weapons and armor is immitated, the beautiful voice of Maria Franz begins, alternately with the somber and threatening vocals of Kai Uwe Faust and Christopher Juul.
At no other concert I have visited so far, I had so much goosebumps.
The songs “Alfadhirhaiti” and “Hakkerskaldyr” made for a change when a group of viking warriors stepped on the stage who stomped rhythmically at the beat of the drums or bumped their spears, singing and screaming threatening war chants.
In the song “Othan”, the viking warriors reappeared to gather around Maria Franz this time, during which they lifted their shields, looking as if they wanted to protect her. There was a little shock at the song “Traus”. While Maria Franz was singing, Kai Uwe Faust and a female dancer came to the audience. After the dancer whirled her spear and folded it behind her back, Kai Uwe Faust began to tie her with a long rope and suddenly he started strangling her with it until she was lying still on the floor. She lay there for a few minutes until finally Maria Franz went to her and touched her. Instantly the supposedly strangled dancer got up. Maria pulled out the spear behind her back and now the female dancer was unleashed and free to go. With their last song “Hamrer Hippyer” they heated up the audience again properly. The audience was asked to stand up and support the artists, which was also the case right now. The whole hall clapped and moved rhythmically to the fast drum beats and light effects while the warriors and female dancers moved in extravagant dance poses.
If you really get into this kind of music and feel the beat in your body, it can truly be meditative. The only little thing I really regretted was the fact that the audience had the opportunity to get up only for the last song. I can not remember the last time I sat at a concert.
It is much more fun to be able to move throughout the concert to feel and experience the music intensely – because with this kind of music, you have the constant urge to move.
One thing is definitely clear – seeing Heilung at a concert was such an incredible experience. It was a lot more than an ordinary concert. It can already be called a play, what makes a theater a suitable location, I guess.