There are bands that evolve over time and there is Ulver, a Norwegian experimental outfit which very name is synonymous for change and (musical) evolution. Nowadays it’s hard to believe this merry gang started out as a grim black metal band. Since the release of “Themes From William Blake” (1998) it’s all about pushing the artistic envelope. Kristoffer Rygg and Co have quite a dislike for touring, so when they perform live it’s quite a happening. One of these rare performances was caught on film and released on DVD under the “Live In Concert At The Norwegian National Opera”.
This DVD was recorded in one of the most prestigious venues in Norway and it’s simply one of the most soul-stirring and memorable performances I’ve seen on DVD. In terms of quality it can easily rival with Porcupine Tree’s “Arriving Somewhere” and “Anesthesize” and it even comes close to Pink Floyd’s “Pulse”. The majority of the songs comes from latter-day Ulver albums, like “Perdition City”, “Blood Inside”, “Shadows Of The Sun”, “War Of The Roses” and various EP’s, like “Silence Teaches You How To Sing” and “A Quick Fix Of Melancholy”.
The concert itself starts in rather macabre fashion with a performance artist displaying an impaled man, suffocating in his own blood. It really sets the mood for the rest of the DVD. The whole performance revolves around a cascade of images and animations with the band more often than not acting like an orchestra providing the perfect musical backdrop. Mentioning individual songs is an exercise in futility, because all the songs are an integral part of the whole musical trip. The visual aspect and the music are simply one. The gig ends with a naked clayman-like figure reminiscent of Tool’s “Stinkfist” and “Aenima” videos.
Another great aspect about “Live In Concert” is how the whole show is recorded on camera. There are luckily no MTV-styled superfast shots or any other fancy whimsical trickery. This is the way I like my music DVD’s.
I know one thing and that’s when I get the chance to see Ulver live, I will certainly go to that gig, come hell or high water. Until that day I’ll keep watching “Live In Concert At The Norwegian National Opera” over and over again…