|Location:|| Labirinto della Masone, Fontanellato (PR),|
For some reason, Ulver have played a fundamental role in the formation of the group of people directly or indirectly involved in Aristocrazia Webzine, so of course news about the new album and tour received a very warm welcome in our circle. We could absolutely not miss their only Italian show in the mystical location known as Labirinto della Masone, in Fontanellato (near Parma).
It had already happened in the past on many occasions (such as the historic first Agalloch show in Italy in 2009, or for Ulver themselves back in 2010) to see people swarming from all over the country and beyond, towards the breath-taking venue almost lost in the countryside between Fidenza and Parma. This was the first time there for me, while other Aristocrats had the chance to experience it for the (endless) performance by Sunn O))) in late 2016. After a brief wait in the courtyard and some words with people we had not met in person for ages, we are allowed inside the labyrinth and, several minutes later, we finally reach the stage area near the pyramid.
The (not very rich) merch stand got literally assaulted in a few moments and, after some time spent with our friends, it was time for me to go below the stage for my first experience as an official photographer (we were allowed in the area for the whole duration of Westerhus' show and the first three Ulver songs). The Norwegian guitarist has been cooperating with the collective since "Wars Of The Roses" as a guest, and has also contributed to the recording of some songs (for "The Assassination Of Julius Caesar" as well) and to many live performances. His show was heartfelt and worked very well in the context of the courtyard, accompanied by solid lights and an imposing smoke machine.
With no interruption, the Wolves silently set foot on stage right as Westerhus was concluding his solo performance and remained there. Welcomed by a screaming audience, it was time for "Nemoralia", the big hit single off their latest studio album, and here Krystoffer Rygg emerged from the smoke and began singing like a younger version of Dave Gahan. As previously stated, I could witness the first three songs from just below the stage, and I can say there was intense emotional interaction between the band and the audience, despite verbal communication being not much more than a few «Cheers» pronounced here and there.
As we all knew, most of the show was focused on presenting "The Assassination Of Julius Caesar", with its electronic quasi-pop (though never cheesy) rhythm. The six musicians mixed things up a little in terms of the album tracklist and, in a very punctual manner, at the end of the third song "1969" our group of photographers was also sent back to the main area, where I met with the others again for the first (very positive) comments about the show. Starting from "So Falls The World", I could also see each track's visuals projected on the screen, mostly characterized by a somewhat trollingly masonic style, coherent with the location's architecture. I must say that not all of the visuals left a notable impact, but for example Saint Theresa and the Triangle left an impression.
As we reached the second half of the show, it was time for "The Future Sound Of Music" (taken off the masterpiece "Perdition City") to surprise the audience, that of course welcomed it with great pleasure. The setlist proceeded as planned up to the conclusion with "Coming Home", as its outro was prolonged for something like twent minutes. Let's be honest: great impact and everything, but still it could have been more interesting to add another song before it while shortening this never-ending coda. A huge round of applause closed the performance, with no encore, allowing Rygg some time to go meet a little crowd at the end for some handshakes and photos.
As far as I'm concerned, this was one of the main musical events of the season in Italy, apart from being a great chance to catch up in person with many friends from all over the country, both inside and around Aristocrazia Webzine (for example, this is a very kvlt photo of me with Kelvan and Bosj). Also, in case you had the chance to attend any event here at Labirinto della Masone, don't let it slip, as it is by far one of the most intriguing venues for this sort of shows available in Italy at the moment.