SCREAMER Caught In A Web! Live From Sweden
April 6, 2020, 4 months ago
Strange times call for desperate measures. Thanks to the Covid lockdown, international travel restrictions and other Spring '19 "niceties," been a couple of months since I've seen anything approaching a live concert. Some are getting creative and courtesy of live streaming, it's possible to still witness live performances, minus the up-close and personal aspect that drew us metalheads to clubs, in the first place. Know it wasn't the "cheap" beer prices, right?
Case in point, on April 4th, rising traditional Swedish metal outfit Screamer (four full lengths, including last year's Highway Of Heroes) opted to play for global shut-ins, with an impromptu Q & A session intermezzo. Judging from the real-time commentary, just what so many (from some of the hardest hit areas) needed, especially from a newer band. In better times, they are scene's lifeblood, and now, most are affected by NOT being able to tour. Sure Metallica is providing a similar, pre-recorded service to millions, each Monday (as well as donating to worthy causes), but they can undoubtedly survive through a protracted layoff. Not sure who else can, or how many bands have the balls, let alone the wherewithal, to pull off what Screamer accomplished: a warts & all, full lighting production, with multiple (OK, three) cameras and recurrent pyro. Yes, at times the flood lights turned the head-on view into a complete white out & there were minor technical glitches, but I don't think most watching minded.
From all indications, the Swedish government has (to date) foregone any shelter in place order, claiming their citizenry is smart enough to "do the right thing." Wouldn't want others, in different locations, attempting to replicate this performance, unless completely safe. Onstage, the Screamer guys took no such precautions (and hopefully that won't come to bite them), standing side-by-side, sweating and interacting with one another, as in pre-virus days (like last Summer at the Bang Your Head festival, in Balingen, Germany). 3pm (NYC time), and 9pm in Sweden, the five appeared on a black & white tiled floor. Singer Andreas Wikström in sleeveless white band vest, black shirt underneath, in complete color contrast to his bandmates. The band played about a half hour, before stopping for the quick interview (questions chosen from online inquiries). Apart from giving the band a chance to rest (not that they needed it, after basically just getting warmed up), guess it makes the crowd feel like they're involved, in some way. According to the running onscreen commentary, quite a few people were unfamiliar with the band, prior to this, so it served as a great marketing tool too. Hopefully some will take them up on free merch shipping this weekend (w/ "LivingTheStream" code).
None too surprising, there was a heavy dose of the latest record, especially in the first set, beginning with "Ride On", plumes of fire igniting behind the band. Sure they mugged for the cameras, at times (who wouldn't? Must be difficult playing "live" to no one), but they looked to be having fun. Dejan Rosic (yet another Swede w/ a cream colored Strat!) pulled out the repertoire of Rock God tricks/poses, even dropping to his knees, as he played. Wikström tried to interact with those beyond the fourth wall, imploring viewers to "headbang at home" and claiming "this is where the big applause would be". Otherwise, Screamer played it straight, pretending this was a regular concert (albeit without a visible audience), delivering the initial three songs (opener, plus "Demon Rider' and punchy "Shadow Hunter") seamlessly seguing one into the other and keeping much of the typical stage banter, with a bit of tongue-in-cheek.
Usual sing-along "Highway To Heroes" is devoid a few thousand voices, at least in Sweden, if not online. "On My Way" and ride cymbal pinging "Keep On Walking" give way to another high energy "newbie", "Rider Of Death". Complete with flamethrowers, pulsating in unison, it's the final number before the interview portion. When they reactivate, it's "Mr. Noman" up first, which Wikström concedes is the "slowest song of the night". It begins like a 70s hard rocker, but eventually pumps up the pace & intensity. More flames and aggression for "Monte Carlo Nights" (one of the "big" numbers), with bassist Fredrik Svensson Carlström on backing vocals. "If you know the words, sing along, even if you're back home." During both halves of the show, the boys are all over the stage, frequently switching sides. Four part vocals (like so many of their live tunes) for "Towers Of Babylon" (also off last year's release), which could be a radio hit. The singer offers an exaggerated and sustained "Can you hear me?" to begin the song of the same name, from the Adrenaline Distractions debut. Wikström's occasional vocal resemblance to Paul Stanley comes through loud & clear, on that one. Behind him, the two guitars and bass offer synchronized stage movements. Following speedy "Halo", the singer announces the impending end. Over all too quickly, especially NOT knowing when we'll all have a chance to do this (or the real McCoy) again, "Out Of The Dark' (surely a fitting motif for today's experiment!) brings things to a close.
Hats off to Screamer. My first really enjoyable Saturday in several weeks. Look forward till we can meet (for real) again. Skol!
If you missed out, or want to see it again click here.