The Night Flight Orchestra

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author AP date 24/08/18 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

Formed by Soilwork-vocalist Björn ‘Speed’ Strid and -guitarist David Andersson while on tour in the USA, and originally intended as nothing more than a light-hearted side-project, The Night Flight Orchestra has since swelled into a full-fledged band and established itself as a serious endeavour — one which caught the attention of, and was offered a glitzy record deal by Nuclear Blast in 2016. Two new full-length albums have since been added to the group’s repertoire (2017’s “Amber Galactic” and this year’s “Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough”), creating further excuses for the ‘Orchestra to hit the road together, and the latest of these treks once again brings the all-star constellation to Copenhagen for a concert which seems almost too intimate given the reputation of the two aforementioned musicians and their equally renowned colleagues, who include bassist Sharlee D’Angelo (of Arch Enemy), as well as drummer Jonas Källsbäck (of Mean Streak). As you might imagine then, the Stengade venue is almost maxed out with people eager to hear this Helsingborg, Sweden-based act’s take on classic AOR in the live setting.

All photos courtesy of Adriana Zak

The Night Flight Orchestra

It turns out that in many ways, the Night Flight Orchestra’s take on the genre is more appealing to me than the bands at the heart of the Swedish outfit’s palette of inspirations — think Chicago, Europe, Houston et al. And the reason for that is that the music has obviously been written tongue-firmly-in-cheek, resulting in maximum melodrama and stupidly catchy songs. As if to underline just how amusing the proceedings are about to get, the set opens with sampled flight safety instructions turned on their head (“Not smoking is strictly prohibited”, etc.), and during the likes of “This Time” and “Turn to Miami” (both off the aforementioned “Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough”), it is not uncommon to witness Andersson gently resting his head on D’Angelos shoulder when the tone turns a bit teary. Strid, meanwhile, is donning a purple suit, a patterned shirt, a pair of Aviators and a black beret, looking a far cry from his imposing death metal persona in Soilwork and surprising us all with some well-hit falsetto notes every now and then — artfully complemented by the two backing singers dressed up as ‘70s flight attendants: Anna-Mia Bonde & Anna Brygård.

This would all be quite farcical, were it not for the fact that the eight-piece is so tightly wound. These are some seriously well-written tracks we are treated to, made even better by the additional oomph they gain in the live setting with the balance moved somewhat further away from Richard Larsson’s sheets of synth, and the musicianship is pretty phenomenal all around as well. As such, it is not long before every fist is pumping and every mouth singing back the lyrics to songs like “Living for the Nighttime” (taken from the group’s second album, “Skyline Whispers”) and the ballad “Transatlantic Blues” (off their 2012-début, “Internal Affairs”), which would serve perfectly as the intro piece to a classic James Bond flick. It is a pleasure to see a band capable of uniting people of so many different tastes in sing-song like this; there are black metallers, hardcore punks and even indie kids scattered amongst the audience and all kinds of hoodies and tees in representation, each looking just as misplaced as Andersson and his big ear stretches in that Hawaii shirt of his. For once, the infighting that is so rife in the metal community feels like a distant memory, as everyone seems more keen to just drink and dance along with the likes of “Paralyzed” than condescend on each other’s scenes.

Indeed, there is so much joy being emitted by the eight musicians as they channel their nostalgia into these 75 minutes of classic, cheese-crusted rock music, that it would draw a smile on even the grisliest black metal dude’s or angstiest emo kid’s face. It is kind of ironic that legendary artists like Europe should deliver such flat and uninspiring sets these days, while a goddamn side-project manages raise a riot. And with that, perhaps it is not that unrealistic to think that the Night Flight Orchestra might make an appearance at the 10th Anniversary of the Copenhell festival next summer — certainly, Strid is not shy about referring to us as citizens of Copenhell at every opportunity, nor about hinting that we might be seeing the band in Copenhagen again pretty soon. And on the basis of the exhilarating and highly entertaining performance they put on tonight, perhaps the octet should be topping everybody’s wishlist for an early evening party-starter at that event. I am totally sold at least.

8

Setlist:

  • 01. This Time
  • 02. Turn to Miami
  • 03. Living for the Nighttime
  • 04. Sometimes the World Ain’t Enough
  • 05. Something Mysterious
  • 06. Can’t Be That Bad
  • 07. Transatlantic Blues
  • 08. Montreal Midnight Supply
  • 09. Gemini
  • 10. Paralyzed
  • 11. Midnight Flyer
  • 12. Josephine
  • 13. Lovers in the Rain
  • 14. West Ruth Ave

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