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Enslaved Checks In from Opeth Tour

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Band Photo: Opeth (?)

Ivar Bjørnson, guitarist of Norway's Enslaved, has checked in with the following update:

"We’re parked in Boulder; a few minutes have passed since today's soundcheck at the Fox Theatre. We’re having the pleasure of being Special Guests with Opeth, and these guys really know how to pull a full house-and that’s an understatement. We started the tour on May 1st in New Jersey, or Sayreville to be specific. We had arrived the night before in New York without any other drama than Yours Truly emptying the plane’s supply of those little white wine bottles. We were picked up by the tour bus and driver Deana. Of course our barrel of gunpowder-manager/ tour manager Tonje came along to work in the new guys, but other than her we were about to try a brand new, all-American crew. With one exception this has been a grand success, these Americans do have great work ethos. The mentioned exception turned out to be the sound guy, who got replaced after a very short time. A blog is nowhere for public scolding; let’s just say that our expectations on one side and actual knowledge and experience on the other was as mismatched as Paradise Hotel contestants’ views on their own importance in popular cultural history on one side and reality on the other. Wow, that comparison was kind of pompous, wasn’t it? Well, being the composer for a band many dub 'progressive' (not our own words), I guess it is proper to use pretentious language from time to time.

"It took about 1,5 seconds from the first Opeth member set foot outside their bus by the venue, before Enslaved drummer Cato ('Bekkis') engaged in high-spirited conversation with the Swedish headliners. How often and the nature of the various visits to the restrooms during the trip here made the central theme of the conversation, like so many times before, so many times since then, and so very many times to come. We’ve met the Opeth guys several times around the world at airports and festivals, and Grutle [Kjellson, vocals/bass] recently hung with them for a few shows as official beer-tester on their Norwegian tour. I’ve mentioned that the boys know how sell tickets; tonight's show was nice and crowded with nearly 2000 people, and we had a great first night. It all ended with party & polka before we moved on into the night.

"More than a feeling! We’ve never been to Boston before, so this was about time. What a city! The dialect made famous by JFK is worth a trip in itself ('haad liquor,' 'who faated?'). The city is famous for amongst other things Cheers and its seafood, we got to check out the latter; the sushi was just beyond. We tried getting on one of the famous duck safaris, but they were sold out-we had to settle for a rubber duck and some duck lips (that were appropriately used during the set later that night). We found a store specializing in lobster souvenirs; we were inches away from Grutle getting a nifty lobster hat. Why hasn’t anybody thought of selling cod- and shrimp-hats in good ol’ Bergen, Norway? The local Trade Counsel should feel free to get in touch for some input. All in all, this day spent by myself, Grutle and Cato around Boston while the guys rigged the venue, was so nice that we came back slightly 'light-headed' in time for sound check. The gig took place at the Boston House of Blues, meaning everything top quality from catering to P.A. The show itself was highly memorable and dead sold out with 2350 people inside. We’ve been aiming for this Opeth tour for a long while, as we’re convinced that their fans will open their eyes and ears also to Enslaved. Already on this second night we knew with 100% certainty that we’re in the right; we’re gaining several hundreds of new listeners as the first few riffs break out every night. This night was celebrated Enslaved-style with Cognac and beers, the occasional sailor’s shanty and high spirits all around.

"Day three started out with border crossing into Canada; one of Enslaved’s definite favourite countries along with the U.S. Quebec is psychedelic in the sense that they speak a variant of French, but are really down with logistics! If it says 'dinner 18.00' on the schedule, there will be dinner at 18.00. Those who follow the blog for the last European tour will realize what a paradox this setting represents. My personal suggestion is that they quite simply ship over some French-Canadians to France to be a sort of a 'administrator'-group. The original Frenchmen will continue mastering cooking, erotica, movies and all the other stuff they are so superb at; while the French-Canadian handles the logistics. Something tells me that this suggestion might ruffle some feathers, but it could be worth a try? Back to the tour: once again a sold out show with nearly 2000 people, and once again an amazing night for us. The aforementioned soundman; the one who forgot to mention that live-sound wasn’t really something he knew anything about got a last chance (we’re actually so eccentric that we have a manager with a few human personality features), and let’s just say that the last chance went south. We’re just hoping for that night’s audience to interpret kick drums being turned on and off, vocals with Doppler-effect and other ear-candy as an expression of our progressive/ psychedelic preferences. He was told he could get a ride back to Chicago where we were playing a few days later, as long as he stayed away from the soundboard – something he did for the most part, while the local soundmen kept us above water until we were to find our woman in Chicago. Montreal was another wildly good show. Perhaps Opeth surprised some of us when front man Mikael Åkerfeldt got 2000 metalheads to sing along to 'Summer of 69.'

"Back in the US Millwale, Pennsylvania was next up. The local church was rebuilt into a concert hall. An action in itself so rational and just that I can feel my eyes going moist; houses of worship built into concerto rooms! Where it earlier stood some guy in some costume threatening people with eternal blistering and boiling, there’s now kids hanging out in the same place enjoying music and experiencing a sense of community out of free choice, not out of fear for damnation. Millwale also had the most incredible vinyl store; I found among other things some cool US pressings of good old Pink Floyd. The gig was great, the ex-church was sold out and the audience strikingly young-something that always moves a semi-old metal heart-the future is in good hands. Opeth had a visit from an old fan and friend that turned out to be a sport masseuse, something sore backs and shoulders in Enslaved benefitted greatly from. What a day. The day ended and we headed off to Chicago. Exit “sound man” and enter new sound woman. April works at the House of Blues, today’s venue, and joined our tour when we left; completing the crew along with backline tech Ace (L.A.), drum tech Brian (Austin), light tech Steve (Connecticut), merchandiser Vikky (Brooklyn) and manager Tonje (Bergen). The show was another great success, and with the day after being a day off it was all set for a nice little party. Our good friend Douglas runs wine and cigar stores in Chicago (how’s that for a sexy career choice?) got us a nice discount on Cognac-eventually both the golden liquids and our eyes were floating in the Chicago night. Tonight winner was, not surprisingly, Ice dale [guitar]; who had to be carried back to the bus after losing the ability to conduct vertical conversations at the pub. The following day wasn’t much to write home about; it can be summarized into quite a few episodes of 30 Rock season 2 at the bus, Burger King and snoring.

"Now the time had come for Omaha-all nice and warm and another sold out venue. Not too many of the local patrons knew of Enslaved when they entered the room, and the response was overwhelming. During the signing session afterwards we realized that we could teach the Morons, eh sorry Mormons, a few thing about conversion. One of the differences from Europe is the loooooong hauls between basically every single show in the States, so the opportunity to hang out with the locals and getting a glass of silly-water or two doesn’t present itself nearly as often as we would have hoped for. Tonight being no exception, we went ahead to Boulder, Colorado. This is a small college-town in the mountains (Rocky Moutains). College towns are cozy little places that a lot of the time consists of the same mix; young students and old freaks. The oldies look like Cheek & Chong, they’re eternal students that stayed beyond the point where they still could become something else. They seem to think they’re still 20, as they roll around on their blades between the joint-paper-store and the café to pick up the newly arrived. Another great vinyl store was found (they didn’t have any Floyd this time, but a lot of other neat stuff), and in the university park we found the tour’s first carp pond-Grutle and Bekkis immediately went to get bread and fed the guys in the water. We certainly got on the good side of this crowd too, and Grutle enjoyed spectacular success with his stand-up routine. Tonight’s winner was 'want something older, Boulder?' (if it didn’t seem funny when you read it, try saying it out loud), a punch-line that really resonated with the local crowd. Once again the time had come to party, and once again Ice Dale won – once again carried to his bunk after having fallen asleep on every available surface available in the little mountain town. Now we’re having another day off, and the bus in en route to a little place with a hotell where they’re supposed to have both a hot tub and a swimming pool. We’re a few men and women who got up already-we’re pretty Scandinavian and progressive in having 3 out of 12 (1/4) women working on the bus; if nothing else lowering the amount of decaying socks in the midway. American buses are a lot wider than the European ones, something I am enjoying here in the back lounge on the couch. We’re one and a half weeks into the tour, and I’m already missing Norway-luckily the U.S. is so enjoyable that it is all ok. Now it is time to bring forth the Nachos and the finale of Battlestar Galactica season 4. Next letter will be up and out towards the end of the week, the first one is always a little hard to get done (that’s what she said.. badda-bom!)."

Here are the rest of the Opeth / Enslaved tour dates:

May 16 Los Angeles, CA - The Avalon
May 17 Tucson, AZ - Rialtor Theatre (signing at Zia Records)
May 19 San Antonio, TX - Scout Bar
May 20 Oklahoma City, OK - Diamond Ballroom
May 21 Memphis, TN - New Daisy Theatre
May 22 Knoxville, TN - Bijou Theatre
May 23 Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall
May 24 Pontiac, MI - Clutch Cargo's
May 26 New York, NY - Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan
May 27 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club

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