Celeste

support Late Night Venture
author AP date 25/11/21 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

Having gotten into a proper gig rhythm again, I once again find myself in the confines of Nørrebro venue Stengade in order to catch the show by another non-Scandinavian band — something of a rarity in these COVID-19 times. Despite rising case numbers across the continent, Celeste have successfully made it to Scandinavia from the French city of Lyon to deliver a barrage of blackened post-hardcore and -metal to a wind-whipped, freezing audience numbering some 150 by my rough estimation. Yes, winter has truly arrived to these parts, and what better way to mark the occasion than with live music that is just as dark, and just as unforgiving as the weather outside?

All photos courtesy of Jacob Dinesen / Devilution.dk

Late Night Venture

I have never been the biggest fan of Late Night Venture’s live performances, but their studio output continues to strike a chord with me, not least because of the evolution of sound that has happened between every one of the Danish band’s four records thus far. Their concerts though… these have been invariably unremarkable, if you ask me. Yet as soon as the classic doom inspired guitar riff in their opening track hits me, and especially when keyboardist Jonas Qvesel’s theremin effects join in, something feels different. The musicianship is tighter than on any previous occasion that I have witnessed, the growls of guitarist Michael Falk sound more acerbic than ever, and there is a nerve to the quintet’s demeanour on stage now that silences the room and lures the crowd into a trance, myself included. Their performance remains introspective, but is no longer as static as before, with all four standing musicians gritting their teeth, headbanging, crouching over and losing themselves in their Neurosis-inspired soundscapes. This influence is most pronounced in the subdued fourth track, which sees Falk (who is even wearing a Neurosis t-shirt) singing and humming in a moody, Steve von Till-reminiscent, baritone voice. It is an excellent piece of music, one capable of sending shivers down my spine, and the subsequent closing piece, with its almost Halloween-style melody, is a track straight after my heart as well. If there is one thing that still needs improvement, it has to be the transitions in between the songs; banter and instrumental silence just does not work in the context of such introspective music — what would really suit the atmosphere would be some kind of ambient noise or even just feedback in order to maintain a high level of intensity. Nonetheless, this is by far the best show I have seen Late Night Venture deliver thus far.

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Celeste

Few can deny that the Lyon-based quartet Celeste has one of the most unique visual aesthetics in heavy music. The band’s lighting setup relies almost exclusively on their trademark red LED lights worn by each musician on their forehead, cutting through the abundant smoke like laser beams and giving them a distinctly cyclopean appearance. It is a cool effect and it never seems to get old, which is fortunate because — let’s face it — the Frenchmen’s music has tended to follow a pretty rigid formula across the span of their five studio albums thus far. In tonight’s setlist at least, there is little by way of variety, with virtually every track aired using an identical, double pedal drum pattern and droning tremolo riffs. It is hard to tell the individual songs apart, not least because the sound mix is not doing the band any favours, yet where they lack variety, they fully compensate with an exhilarating discharge of energy, those red beams slashing through the air in violent jaunts, while the silhouettes of four visibly impassioned musicians twist and turn and rock in the background.

But while the absence of diversity in Celeste’s musical output has bothered me at previous shows I have seen with them, it is not hitting me as hard tonight. Neither of the group’s two recent singles, “Commes des Amants en Reflet” nor “Des Torrents de Coups”, bring any staggering innovations to the table, yet both of them have succeeded, and indeed continue to succeed in reinvigorating my interest in Celeste’s music now that I get to experience them in the live setting. The same is true of an older, slower, and quite teasing song that, for the skeptic, might sound like an endless intro, but which perfectly nails the deployment of drones in creating an unforgettable post-metal composition that forms one of the absolute highlights of their set tonight. Yet in spite of this, it is fair to say that in the live setting, Celeste is all about the incredible visuals and the sheer intensity of their physical antics on stage. I am not sure I will ever become a devout fan of this quartet, but if they continue to deliver concerts this fierce and enthralling, I for sure will continue to attend them.

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