at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, Friday January 27, 2006

STONEGARD (Live at Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo, Norway, Friday January 27, 2006)
Photo: Per Olav Heimstad

2005 did wonders to the size of El Caco and Stonegard’s fan bases. By the releases of El Caco’s The Search and Stonegard’s Arrows, both bands, both Norwegian, gained a solid take on their home country’s Hard Rock/Metal scene.

The Search and Arrows got many thumbs up from the critics, and the obeyers of the genre embraced the two bands in large numbers. Even though it has been a while since the two albums were released, no one really doubted that the tickets for their split gig would fail to find owners prior to their late January 2006 show.

Support: TORCH

Before El Caco and Stonegard entered the stage, the unknown band Torch, from the mid-region of Norway, was hired to do the warm-up duties. They did a surprisingly good job. It is very rare to see an unknown band having such success as a support act, as they totally grabbed the audience’s’ attention.


El Caco had no reason to hold back. Torch had already lifted the standard, and the three-piece knew that they had a lot to prove for Stonegard’s more diehard fan base waiting for the evening’s headliner. However, unlike Stonegard, El Caco has two more albums under their belt from which to build their set list. Still, they turned to The Search for half of their set’s tracks. Fair enough.

El Caco poured out old and new songs. The muddy vocal mix made it hard to get much out of the lyrics, but there were enough eager fans around to make sure the singing was care taken.

Drummer Thomas kicked the repertoire up and forward, especially on newer compositions like “Fallen” and “The Tender Sin.” Several pyro moments gave an extra dimension to the set -– which, at times, was very much needed. Except from the three member’s hairdos, El Caco is in no way kings of variation, so some extra visual spice was welcome. It’s a shame, though, that their compositions don’t hold a greater span of diversity.

The set’s closure was great. The aforementioned “The Tender Skin,” the rocking “Get Up,” and the outstanding single track from The Search, “Someone New,” put a hard-riffing end to a strong hour of forceful and focused Hard Rock.


As Stonegard entered the stage, the audience did not hold many skeptics. Even though the band started with a brand new track, unfamiliar to the majority, the audience seemed nothing but happy about witnessing one of Norway’s brightest Metal hopes unfold on the Rockefeller stage. On their release, Arrows, they have done just about everything right, and it should be just a question about the right marketing for Stonegard to someday get well-deserved international recognition.

Stonegard appeared much more visual than El Caco, to a great extent thanks to guitarist Ronny Flissundet — it seems like a black belt in guitar posing is his life mission. Their marten (martes martes) looking skull logo printed on a huge backdrop added a cool perspective for the show. Things like that count.

Compared to Flissundet, singer and guitarist Torgrim Torve doesn’t move much, but his charming appearance and skillful approach at the mic makes him a solid girder in the band’s construction.

Their Arrows numbers have all been exposed to live audiences several times over the last year, and it did not seem like the band was tired of performing those songs. Their debut’s title track, “Triggerfinger,” “Barricades,” and the show’s closure “At Arms Length” were all huge. The song’s propulsion was solidly taken care of by the rhythm section: Håvard Gjerde on bass and skinsman Erlend Gjerde.

No less than four new songs were added to their set. These might very well find their way to Stonegard’s next album, scheduled for an autumn release.

It would be wrong not to have expectations about Stonegard’s further achievements. Torch and El Caco too will probably still have a lot to offer in the times to come. January the 27th, 2006, at the Rockefeller Concert Hall was therefore a very fine day for Norwegian Hard Rock/Metal.


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