By Natalie Zed
While I’ve never claimed to write anything from an unbiased perspective, I feel that it is my duty to supply an additional caveat prior to this review. I first saw TÝR when they played with KORPIKLAANI on January 10th, 2010. Lily the Pirate (my trusted Companion in Metal) and I were both completely blown out of the water by how good they were. When I heard that TÝR was coming back to Toronto so soon, and headlining, I did an incredibly undignified dance of glee. Whereas I often find myself walking into a venue ready and willing to be surprised by a performance, this was a show I actively and eagerly anticipated. I knew exactly what I wanted and fully expected to get it.
I was initially a little dubious about the choice of venue. Sneaky Dee’s had always struck me as a small, sweaty space, one that didn’t immediately seem to fit. It wasn’t long, however, before I started to see the wisdom in the choice. The space lent the event a real sense of intimacy. Right around the time I realized that every member of all three bands were wandering around, mingling in the crowd, chilling at the bar and happily chatting with fans, I started to warm to the idea of a small, snug venue.
BOLERO started off the night with their raucous, cheeky, cheerily violent brand of Celtic-folk metal badassery. I’ve seen them play several times now, and each time I’ve been impressed. First and foremost, the members of BOLERO know what they’re on about. They sing about booze and battles and those who hail from Northern climes. They understand their own aesthetic and operate skillfully within it. They’re also really fucking fun to watch. There’s yet to be a show that hasn’t been improved by their presence on the bill, and this night was no exception.
In contrast to BOLERO’s tight, consistent aesthetic, CRIMSON SHADOWS were all over the place. I’ve seen them play before, as well, and I must admit I’ve enjoyed them more in the past than I happened to during this particular show. Because the other two bands had such clearly defined conceptual frameworks, CRIMSON SHADOWS came off feeling a bit grey and muddy to me. They were certainly entertaining, but their performance felt satisfactory rather than completely satisfying.
Everything else fell away, however, when TÝR took the stage. I seemed as though I had handed the band a checklist of everything I hoped to see in their performance, and they generously met every request. They played “Hail to the Hammer,” “Hold The Heathen Hammer High,” and “Sinklars Visa;” Heri and Terji performed shirtless; they took long swigs from a bottle of rum throughout the performance. (The only complaint I have is directed not towards the band, but the big dude standing next to me who insisted on throwing his arms repeatedly over his friend’s shoulders, elbowing me in the head each time, during “Lokka Táttur.”) There were even a couple of lovely surprises, such as closing ending the encore with a Metallica-esque rendition of “Whiskey In The Jar.” I completely, shamelessly adore these Faroese metallers, and I will do everything in my power to see then each and every time they return to Toronto.
It was still warm out when I stumbled down the stairs and outside, a little drunk and perfectly sated, in the small hours of Saturday morning. I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect show to kick off the summer.