at Studio Grondahl, Stockholm, Sweden, May 9, 2020

KATATONIA (Live at Studio Grondahl, Stockholm, Sweden, May 9, 2020)

It’s hard to think that a little over a year ago at the back end of May, Katatonia were in London celebrating the 10th anniversary of their landmark album, Night Is The New Day. The beautiful Assembly Hall in Islington was the perfect setting for a stunning rendition of the whole album from start to finish making the 15 hour round trip from up North to see it all the more worthwhile.

Fast forward a year and no one, but no one, Nostradamus aside, could have predicted the situation we now find ourselves in. Since mid-March with virtually the whole of the globe in lockdown, sheltering from the worst pandemic since 1918’s Spanish Flu, life has we know it is in suspended animation. No work, no shops and no gigs.

Of course, there are ways round this, working from home has become the new norm and online shopping has kept people ticking over but gigs? How can we get our regular fix of gigs when all the venues are shut and the bands in lock down?

Katatonia’s own plans to tour in support of their recently released City Burials album were thrown into disarray, just like everyone else’s but have decided to make the best out of a bad situation by bringing their show to the fans over a live stream from Studio Grondahl in Stockholm, Sweden.

While a few balked at the 10 Euros charge, plenty eagerly signed up. Let’s not forget that bands need income to sustain themselves and if we want new music and tours in the future, bands need to do anything they can to survive so paying for live streams and buying merchandise from their website can mean the difference between a band remaining viable or splitting up for good.

Streamed from a studio environment complete with subtle lighting and plenty of smoke giving adding to the authentic live feel Katatonia kicked off with “Lethean”. Such a perfect song to open the show with encapsulating everything that makes Katatonia so unique. It’s dark, melancholic and so utterly beautiful with a chorus to die for.

Drawing on material from 2001’s Last Fair Deal Gone Down onwards the setlist was a treasure trove for fans especially for lovers of The Great Cold Distance, which was represented by no fewer than six songs including “Leaders” and “My Twin” but even better was a rare outing for the “July” B-side, “Unfurl”. Just what the fans love.

Jonas Renkse’s voice was outstanding, powerful and commanding with a nice edge on the likes of “Old Heart Falls” yet delicate and fragile on the touching “Unfurl” with Roger Ojersson’s tasteful backing harmonies adding a real dash of class throughout.

The “Racing Heart” was spectacular particularly the a cappella ending giving the song a real, cool twist in a live setting while the thunderous “Forsaker” was so bone-crunchingly heavy without ever losing sight of its melodic foundations.

The sound throughout was well balanced, punchy and clear with Renkse’s vocals prominent in the mix with the only issue cropping up during “Old Heart Falls” and “Forsaker” when his microphone cut out a couple of times but hey, this is live music and these things happen and was swiftly resolved by a change of equipment.

New songs “The Winter Of Our Passing”, the achingly sorrowful “Lacquer” featuring a show stopping vocal from Renske and “Behind The Blood”, which closed the show, all making their live debuts sounding vibrant and well placed next to the older more familiar songs.

With “Omerta” from Viva Emptiness making a welcome return to the set after a long absence this was an inspired setlist.

It was strange watching a band in the studio performing live for around an hour and forty minutes with no audience although a commentary box which allowed fans to comment and give virtual applause and shout outs when their favourite song was performed connected the band with the fans.

Ending with a classic (“July”) an oldie (“Evidence”) and a new one, the decidedly metallic “Behind The Blood” brought the show to an all-encompassing end and hats off to Katatonia for making such a positive step during these challenging times with an inspiring and thrilling performing showing that life does go on despite everything. Let’s hope they make the soundtrack available as a download at some point.

Review and (virtual) photos by Mick Burgess

The live feed is available for 10 Euros for 30 days from the date of the performance on 9th May.

Help support Katatonia by buying music and merchandise directly from the band at katatonia.com


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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  1. It was a wonderful show. They sounded great, and I loved the varied setlist. Thanks to Katatonia for putting this on. You did a great job!!! How about another one in a month or two?

  2. That warble/wet effect on Jonas vocals was way, way, WAY too much. They could have turned down that effect some and it would have been perfect. But as it, it kinda ruins the entire vocal performance for me.

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