Pain of Salvation - LIVE: The Garage, London 2012

Road Salt Tour Two
February 13 (21:15-22:50)
Capacity 650

One of the most creative band in Sweden, Pain of Salvation announced the booking of this tour even before the dust had settled on their highly successful stint opening for Opeth last November. And rightly so, given the reception they were getting on that tour and the scintillating performances they were delivering.

Supported by the completely off-the-wall Cryptex (excellent, but mismatched local openers Gentlemen of Distorted Sound cancelled), this show in London, along with shows in Glasgow, Bilston and Leeds, represented their first headlining dates in the UK so far, and the combination of the high-profile Opeth tour, and the promise of an interesting setlist, should have been enough to ensure people turned out for it.

In London, they did just that. While The Garage was not entirely full, by the time Pain of Salvation took the stage at 21:15 (15 minutes later than expected) the crowd was sizeable and the room was beginning to warm up. They stuck, as expected, mostly to the Road Salt One and Road Salt Two and judging by the crowd responses it's obvious that those albums have brought them a considerable new fanbase.

With the possible exception of absent Mortar Grind they played all of the best, most popular songs from the pair of recent albums, with a handful from the back catalogue in between, and did so with a remarkable level of energy and cohesion given that the band was almost completely different to a few months prior. Long-standing guitarist Johan Hallgren announced his departure during the Opeth tour, and is now replaced by Ragnar Zolberg, while touring bassist Daniel Karlsson has taken over keyboard duties from Fredrik Hermansson, leaving bass guitar to the returning Gustaf Hielm, who left the band in 1994. This was the first tour for the new line-up and they appear to have gelled instantly in their new roles.

There was still room for a special guest though, as The Tangent's Luke Machin relegated Zolberg to backing vocals as he joined in on lead guitar, adding an excellent solo to Kingdom of Loss. No Way followed and they should have ended the main set there, but instead are closing each night with Enter Rain, which doesn't work well in that slot. It's slow, progressive meanderings lack the intensity often required of a closer, and a lot of audience energy was lost.

However, throughout the whole of the tour cycle for Road Salt One, and then throughout the various activities for Road Salt Two in 2011, fans persistently asked for one song: Sisters. Wholly understandable, as it's one of the finest songs Daniel Gildenlöw has ever written, and in response they promised to play it on this tour. But they saved it for last in a two-song encore with The Physics of Gridlock, also from Road Salt One. The response was of course emphatic, and although ordinarily ending a show with what is essentially a ballad would be highly unadvisable, with a song that strong it worked ably as a finalé.

The combination of this show and the Opeth show last year look to have given Pain of Salvation a good footing in the UK as a live band, and not before time. They would probably benefit greatly from coming back once more on this album cycle before recording anything new, and if they do they look certain to guarantee a high-level performance.

“ remarkable level of energy and cohesion ”

Cryptex Setlist: Hicksville, Habitus And Itchy Feet / Freeride / Dance of The Strange Folk / Camden Town / Alois / It's Mine / Gypsy’s Lullaby / Most Lovable Monster / Grief And Despair Leviathan

Pain of Salvation Setlist: Softly She Cries / Ashes / Linoleum / The Deeper Cut / 1979 > To The Shoreline / Chain Sling / Ending Theme / Stress / Kingdom of Loss (with Luke Machin) / No Way / Enter Rain // The Physics of Gridlock / Sisters

Photo(s): Andy Lye

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2012, Gigs, Progressive,

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