Eluveitie at Bloodstock 2019 review

Eluveitie brought their folk metal to Bloodstock on the Sunday night and left the crowd with tears in their eyes 10/10

Anna Murphy of Eluveitie sings while playing the harp live at Bloodstock on the Friday night of the festival
(c) Jade Greenbrooke

So here we all were on a Sunday night, most of us heavily fatigued from a weekend well spent. I had left The Scorpions early in the hope that I could get a place near the front for a band I had been looking forward to the whole weekend. But, by the time I got there 30 minutes early, the front of the stage was already packed, so I took up a place where I swapped the excitement of the front for a more dignified appreciation of the sound and band.

11 years ago, Eluveitie released Slania, an album which rocketed them to the forefront of the Pagan/Metal scene. As the years have progressed, their sound has become harsher and their lineup has changed – most noticeably when Fabienne Erni was replaced by Anna Murphy two years ago as vocalist – whilst never losing the heavier folk elements which accompanied their first two albums.

The first two songs encapsulate perfectly what makes Eluveitie beloved by many. When a song starts with the onerous spoken words, “Oh bright sun of the Night, I lift my arms into thee” you anticipate what you are going to get, but absolutely nothing can prepare you for ‘Ategnatos’ and the glorious, nay majestic aural feast of the sounds of Anna Murphy’s Celtic Harp and haunting vocals, Chrigel Glanzmann’s mandola and harsh vocals, and the hurdy-gurdy, violin, whistles, guitars and drums that accompany them. Oh, and did I mention bagpipes (or to give them their correct name, Uillean pipes)? I really do think there is not a song that cannot be improved by the addition of Irish bagpipes. This is followed by ‘Call of the Mountains’, showcasing the softer vocals and melodies the band have in their repertoire.

Black and white photo of Eluveitie at Bloodstock 2019
(c) Jade Greenbrooke

For the next hour, our eyes and ears are assaulted by the spectacle that is Eluveitie in full swing. My flabber could not have been more gasted, and a few glances around me solidified my opinion that we were witnessing something truly remarkable – this crowd was a heaving mass, united by the collective experience that only music can bring. At times I felt my jaw dropping almost cartoon like as I marvelled at the sounds coming from the stage. We were privileged to hear, amongst others ‘Deathwalker’, ‘Worship’, ‘A Rose for Epona’, ‘Ambiramos’, ‘Breathe’ (a personal favourite), ‘Helvetios’ and ‘Rebirth’ – each and every song devoured hungrily, greedily and without cease by a writhing ecstatic crowd. This was more than music, this was our collective lifeblood, the very reason we travel in our tens of thousands in our annual pilgrimages to lay ourselves down upon the altar that is heavy metal.

And so to the end and crowd favourite ‘Inis Mona’. A fitting end in that the absence of more left me both uplifted and desolate in equal measure. A quick glance around was enough to convince me that I was not alone. There were tears in the eyes of more than one person as well as myself.

For the love of all the Celtic gods, if you get a chance to catch Eluveitie do not spurn it. They are truly special. 10/10

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