Moonspell

Live at The Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal Studios: LA, CA 11/05/2008 as part of The Blackest of the Black Tour

Review by Travis Baumann

It has been years since I last saw Moonspell.  I missed them on their "Memorial" tour when they last played Los Angeles but I did see them at he Fei a Do Do club for the "Darkness and Hope" tour.

With several albums out since then, Moonspell have accumulated a huge amount of new material to play so I was anxious to see them again.

This time around, Moonspell were special invited guests on Danzig's Blackest of the Black 2008 tour. This was a pretty big honor as Glen Danzig is an Icon and founding influence in the Punk, Dark Metal, and Gothic movements in music. A couple of lesser known bands opened the Fest with Moonspell going on third in the line-up and the mighty Dimmu Borgir going on immediately after.

Moonspell sounded awesome up close where you could hear their actual amps and really hear the intricacy of their playing. I would have to say that the further back I moved, the sound deteriated and got rather muddy as my actual seats were quite far back in the scheme of the gigantic place.

It looked to me that the same members were present since I saw them last which is always a good sign when a band has a long-standing relationship and continue to create together. They utilize two guitars, one of the players also handling occasional keyboards, as well as a bass and live drums.

Fernando is the lead singer and the pivotal sound of the band in many ways. He came out dressed for business in a sleeveless shirt, a skull necklace, and cloth gauntlets covering his forearms.

Moonspell hail from Lisbon, Portugal and although occasionally dabling in Portugese lyrics, they sing predominantly in English. They visually and audibly portray a dark, evil style of metal but with a unique melancholy and melodic quality interjected into the sound.

Fernando fluctuates between a deep gothic clean vocal style and a harsh brutal vocal attack but when he sings in this extreme way it is different than the typical growled or shouted vocal deliveries common in Black Metal or Nu-Metal styles.

If I had one complaint about the Moonspell set it would be that it was woefully short. It was four or five songs at most and barely lasted twenty-five minutes while it seemed that the band before, Winds of Plague played over a half hour.

With Moonspell having such a huge back cataloge of material, I had a gigantic wishlist of songs but what they did play was done masterfully and only left me wanting more.

My favorite song of the set was "Moon in Mercury" taken from the new album "Night Eternal" which they did third on the line-up as I was luckily still in the photo-pit for that one. They also did "Night Eternal" itself and "Opium" off of the album of the same name. I think it was "In Memorium" that they opened with but I am not entirely sure.

My second favorite song was their final one which was taken from their very first release and was for all the die-hard Moonspell fans out there. "Full Moon Madness" had an extended instrumental at the end during which Fernando grabbed drumsticks and pounded on the cymbals with the drummer.

It was a great crescendo to the set but as I said, insanely short.  I wish they would have booted either Skeleton Witch or Winds of Plague to give Moonspell at least forty-five minutes or a full hour like Dimmu Borgir and Danzig.

The acoustics of the Gibson really fluctuate upon where you sit which really hit home when one of the other photographers left right after Dimmu and graciously gave me his seat for Danzig. It was an orchestra seat on the far left so I was right up against the railing of the pit which meant at east I could see. While the sound was much better than behind the sound booth in the far back, it was a far shake from the photo-pit area and close to stage. I think what you take from this whole show will be based hugely where your seat was.

I feel that any venue that is seated and restricts access to the stage is retarded in general but especially for Metal, Gothic, or Industrial acts. These intense performances are meant to be enjoyed on your feet and feeling the music and getting into the vibe.

Because of this restriction the pit area was much less populated than it should have been as many people who had pit-passes did not arrive yet or at least did not head down there until the last two bands. Also the prohibitive cost of alcohol, I am sure, left some of Los Angeles still wrapped up in its post work-day inhibitions. All in all, Moonspell were awesome and did a great job.

The audience really enjoyed them and I thought they picked really good material, mostly off of the new album which is good.

I am really glad they got the opportunity to reach so many new potential listeners by being introduced to the large fan-bases of Dimmu Borgir and Danzig. I hope they headline tour the new album soon.

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