Therion – Les Fleurs Du Mal tour – Review of Bucharest show

Full photo gallery available here

A little while before the start of ‘Flowers of Evil’ tour, headlined by the Swedes in Therion, it was announced that these would be the latest live appearances for a long time now, as Christofer Johnsson plans to spend a while finalising an old and demanding project. Besides that, Therion related stuff has brought quite a lot of lovely or daring moments in my personal life, hence I thought to invest in a trip to their concert in Bucharest, Romania. It was organised in a tent built up for the event and it felt like it attracted quite a lot of audience and even the band admitted it was pretty special to play again in Romania.

There were two opening bands, Antalgia (Spain) and Elyose (France). I personally wasn’t much impressed by any of them, but I admit that I was mixing the attempt to listen to their music with chats with old friends and colleagues. But, overall, nothing on stage caught my attention, yet I am pretty sure that the cute vocalist of Elyose was followed with enthusiasm by the people gathered in front of the stage. I don’t like writing too much negative stuff in my reviews so I’ll just stop here and talk about Therion’s show.

Actually, before starting to talk about the show, let’s mention the fact that Therion has recently launched an album fully sung in French, with a French title – ‘Les Fleurs Du Mal’ and mainly made of covers of old French songs. As explained during the band’s last come back on stage, the album is meant to celebrate the band’s 25th anniversary. They prefered to do something odd like this, rather than releasing a remastered version of whatever album that sold well in the past. There’s obviously plenty of skepticism from people reviewing the album, but whether one enjoys its music or not, I think people should take into account that the band showed enough strong will to not follow the path of ‘wow, we made a successful album, let’s do 10 more if they sell’. Instead, C. Johnsson wrote and recorded the music he enjoys, changed band members and rebuilt Therion over and over again and didn’t submit to the wishes of promoters or record labels. Plus, I believe it’s obvious for quite a while now that you can’t really predict what next Therion album will sound like, so I believe that comparing what they did 10 years ago with what’s been released today is something pretty childish.

Prior to the start of the tour, Snowy Shaw, one of the male vocalists, announced his departure from the band. It wasn’t much time to find someone to replace him, so the band left on tour with only one male vocalist, Thomas Vikström and two lovely female voices, Lori Lewis and Linnea Vikström (the daughter of Thomas). A new appearance on stage for me were the keyboards played by Stefan Jernståhl, which sounded so sweet during certain songs, but which are easy to forget about when the guitar riffs stand out so lovely as played by the talented Christian Vidal. Overall it’s hard to find a single word to describe the whole show. Since Therion is not only offering a bunch of people gathered on stage to perform some tracks. They’re putting together a magic show, in which every single one of them plays a small part. There’s often moments when Lori comes alone in front of the stage and enchants everyone with her voice and looks, other times she’s accompanied by Thomas or Linnea, or she goes back to let the other vocalists play their main parts. But what I actually like is that the vocalists often step back and sing behind some microphones placed between the drums and the keyboards, hence leaving plenty of room for the instrumentalists to become showmen for a while. Then, we either see duos between Vidal and Johnsson or Nalle Pålhsson showing his love for bass. There’s, of course, special outfits that everyone wears so that you can feel like attending a theater performance as well. Plus a lot of communication between people on stage, who move and make jokes towards each other, vocalists coming closer to the crowd and singing for him or for her for a short while. In the end, it feels like all these put together manage to form some sort of magic energy floating over the stage and that is quickly inhaled by the audience who screams and jumps and waves and headbangs continuously. Or they just take photos and videos.

Another thing that this band does really well is to quickly be loved as they bring a big local flag on stage and sing certain songs covered in it. Thomas Vikström even had a small speech comparing Hungarian audience to the Romanian one, and when the ones in Bucharest had won the screaming duel, I think some people would have paid for him to have a statue built. In case you wonder why, there’s certain historical aspects between the two countries.

Music wise, it was another journey through the band discography, all the way back to 1996’s Theli. I think they managed to include at least one song from each album, thus not making it difficult for those who never heard the newer stuff. A personal highlight for me was ‘Via Nocturna’ which I consider to be their best song. But there was a lot more intense moments on stage when they played slow touching songs like ‘Siren of the Woods’ or ‘The Wondrous World of Punt’. A lot of guitar magic was unleashed during the short and fast ‘The Flight of the Lord of Flies’, I can’t even explain how nice ‘Lemuria’ sounds as accoustic version (but they played it like this for quite a while now, so there’s plenty of bootlegs of it out there). The madness in the crowd reached higher and higher peaks with each of the ‘hits’ like ‘The Rise of Sodom and Gomorrah’, ‘The Blood of Kingu’ and, of course, the final encore, ‘To Mega Therion’.

I am happy to have been there and dance and jump and take pictures. Speaking of which, this is my main complain about this concert, the fact that the photo pit was only half of the stage wide so every photographer has more or less similar photos due the impossibility of changing angles. But it was a detail quickly forgotten once I lost myself in the first rows and enjoyed the performance. The band is almost done with the shows in Europe, they are going to have several concerts on Russian land and, as announced, there’ll be silence for a while. A silence whose result I’m really looking forward to.

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