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No Sleep Till Mumbai

Old favourites, latest hits make an appearance at Katatonia’s first gig in India

Deepti Unni Jan 24, 2011
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Katatonia Live in Mumbai

Bobin James

It’s four in the afternoon at the IIT-Bombay campus and Katatonia are being, well, catatonic. Having just flown in early in the morning from Australia (“an exhausting 15 hour flight, many many time zones,” says guitarist Anders Nyström) from the aptly names No Sleep Til’ travelling festival, the band are understandably zoned out, even without fielding the numerous interview requests that come their way. But right now they just want to be told what to do. “We’re like kids. We want to have strict rules ”“ this you can do and this you cannot do. Our tour manager tells us what to do,” Nyström says with a chuckle.

The Swedish metal band were in Mumbai to play their first ever India show at IIT-B’s much-anticipated rock show Livewire and by their own admittance had no idea what to expect from the gig. They needn’t have worried. IIT-B’s open air theatre, though not packed beyond capacity as it was at the Porcupine Tree show last year, just about had standing room as fans braved the long lines, bizarre breathalyser tests (professors yelling “Blow on my face!” in a vain attempt to catch inebriated visitors) and traffic, to watch the band.

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Earlier in the evening Mumbai’s Goddess Gagged, Delhi’s Guillotine, Kolkata’s Purple Asparagus and Pune’s Abraxas put up a spirited battle in the meagre 12 minutes allotted to each band as they competed for first place, which eventually went to Abraxas. Indus Creed were the co-headliners for the night and their set, a mix featuring perennial favourites ”˜Top of the Rock,’ ”˜Pretty Child’ and ”˜Rock and Roll Renegade’ and their sprightly new numbers, met with roaring crowd approval.

Katatonia took stage at an early half-past eight, ripping into ”˜Day and Then the Shade’ and ”˜Liberation’ from their 2009 opus, the critically acclaimed Night is the New Day. On their studio albums, the overwhelming impression the band makes is one of melancholy but the heaviness of their sound is surprising live. Alternately crushing and moodily mesmerising in turns, the band pulled off fan favourites ”˜Evidence,’ ”˜Criminals’ (Viva Emptiness), ”˜My Twin,’ ”˜Soil’s Song,’ ”˜July’ (The Great Cold Distance) and what’s now a Katatonia classic, ”˜Teargas’. The band also frequently returned to their new album, blazing through ”˜Onward into Battle,’ ”˜The Longest Year’ and ”˜Idle Blood.’ The haunting ”˜Omerta,’ sung from the point of view of a man being slowly poisoned to death, also made an appearance though it seemed a bit of a misfit as a concert track in its mellowness and a few fans seemed puzzled by its intentionally abrupt ending. The band also seemed to battle a few technical glitches but the crowd ”“ desperately trying to mosh in the heavy sections ”“ seemed not to notice. The band wound up their set with ”˜For My Demons’ and ”˜Forsaker’ ”“ which to their surprise was demanded by the audience in a unanimous chant ”“ and closed with ”˜Leaders’ from The Great Cold Distance, before rushing off to make their flight back home in time: The band spent less than 23 hours in the country. “It was a super show,” said Nyström afterward, “so good that we’re still digesting it. The pyros were a bit too much, though. There was definitely some burning hair.”

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”˜Day and Then the Shade’
”˜My Twin’
”˜Onward Into Battle’
”˜The Longest Year’
”˜Soil’s Song’
”˜Saw You Drown’
”˜Idle Blood’
”˜Ghost of the Sun’
”˜For My Demons’

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