I’m the type of person who thinks every show I’m able to attend is special – life is crazy and sometimes twisted and I never really know what tomorrow will bring – but when I say that seeing Enslaved at The Gramercy Theatre was special, I mean that it went above and beyond. Twenty-five years is a long time. Generally speaking, any relationship that hits 25 years and continues to function is probably doing something right, so it was great getting to see the full spectrum of their musical history represented in two unbelievable sets.
Each set was about an hour and a half, but the night began hours prior. In fact, that Saturday was part of a whole weekend dedicated to celebrating Norwegian music, culture, and art. It was organized by By Norse, a label and promotion/events platform based in Bergen, Norway, founded by Einar Selvik (Fimbulljod Productions, Wardruna), Ivar Bjørnson (Peersen Production AS, Enslaved, BardSpec) and Simon Füllemann (AISA – All Independent Service Alliance LLC, All Access Agency). Friday night’s schedule took place at Scandinavia House on Park Avenue and featured a special performance by Bardspec as well as a workshop with Einar Selvik.
Saturday’s schedule at the Gramercy began with an exhibition of Kim Holm’s artwork. His portraiture of Enslaved beautifully captures the energy and movement you can only experience at a live show. During the exhibit, one could also enter the main floor to experience Grimposium: Celebrating Enslaved 25, a discussion panel featuring Kjetil Grutle and Ivar Bjørnson.
Following the panel were two very special sets by Enslaved. The first set featured all older material from their first albums such as Frost. After performing songs such as “Heimdallr” and “Jotunblod” Grutle told the crowd “If you ask us to play older stuff during our second set, I’m going to punch you in the face.” Towards the end they were joined by Einar Selvik himself, who provided additional vocals on “Havenless.”
After a short break the band came back and played their second set, which contained all newer material and included Roots of the Mountain and Ruun. Their most recent release, The Sleeping Gods – Thorn, came out in November of last year. During both sets, Mike Holm was present to the side of the stage drawing the band as they played. The artwork was available after the show near the merch section and each piece was signed by both Holm and the band. For anyone that still wanted more Enslaved, they stopped by Rough Trade in Williamsburg for a two-hour signing session on Sunday.
If you’d like to learn more about By Norse’s past and present events and projects, check out their website here.