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AvatarKulturfabrik, Esch sur Alzette, Luxembourg
13th February 2019
Avatar, The Mahones, Dylan Walshe

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Freak Show! Luxembourg is now finally an official member of AVATAR Country. The king was very pleased about the warm welcome the citizens had presented. In the baggage: A charming Irishman and a handful of good cheer makers. A review about the royal visit in Esch.

Dylan Walshe

DYLAN WALSHE is an Irish musician from the south-eastern coast of Dublin. He is known for his lyrical songwriting, robust guitar-playing and warm, unique vocal style. Typically touring internationally as a solo acoustic performer, his music is steeped in the traditions of Folk, Celtic, Blues, Singer/ Songwriter, One-man Band & Roots Music. After spending his 20s splitting his time between London & Ireland, he now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. Most recently, Dylan toured with FLOGGING MOLLY & THE WHITE BUFFALO in 2017. Dylan also recorded with James Fearnley of THE POGUES & those recordings are scheduled for release in 2018.

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Music & Performance
Already when entering the concert hall it was clear: those who expected an evening completely under the sign of Metal were wrong. There was music playing that you only could hear in a circus. Instead of fat guitar riffs and driving drum rhythms the Irish singer / songwriter DYLAN WALSHE opened the show at 7pm. As soon as the red-bearded and charming man from Nashville, Tennessee, took his seat in his modest chair, he gave the hall a relaxed, cosy atmosphere. Above all, his soulful yet rough voice (with an unmistakable Irish accent) gave the music that extra something. With a mix of delicate guitar playing, Blues Rock elements and catchy harmonica melodies - he played all instruments himself - the Irishman made even hard-boiled Metal heads a little softer. DYLAN WALSHE - a talented musician, who also creates a good mood without a band - even if this one could be assigned to the quieter class on that evening in Esch.

Music: 7
Performance: 6
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7 / 10

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The Mahones

THE MAHONES are a Canadian Irish-Punk band, formed in 1990 by Dublin-born Finny McConnell, as a one-off band for a St. Patrick’s Day party. Encouraged by a positive reception, McConnell decided to pursue the band full-time. THE MAHONES have released thirteen albums to date with their most recent, ‘Love, Death, & Redemption’, being released in 2018. THE MAHONES cite THE POGUES as a main influence. That band were originally called POGUE MAHONE (an Anglicisation of an Irish phrase meaning “kiss my arse”), but later shortened it to THE POGUES. THE MAHONES is seen as similarly derived from POGUE MAHONE, as a tribute to THE POGUES.

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Music & Performance
With the beginning of the second act this inner peace and serenity of the audience, built by Dylan Walsh, had vanished faster than one can say “Guinness”. THE MAHONES from the Canadian city of Kingston entered the stage and immediately hit the scene. With their driving Irish Folk Punk sounds and the whiskey voice of singer Finny McConnell, the quartet made the atmosphere in the hall bubble within a few minutes. The band, founded in 1990, strongly reminded of a mix of FLOGGING MOLLY and the DROPKICK MURPHYS. It was likeable how front man Finny kept on trying to get in touch with the audience, telling them a story or two. But the band also had something to celebrate. Lia, the girlfriend of singer Finny had birthday. And so it happened that the whole Kulturfabrik sang a birthday song for the 30 year old. Probably an unforgettable moment for the woman.

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Afterwards, there was a dancing crowd, celebration and while listening to the Irish punk sounds they almost forgot that you were waiting for the big performance of a Swedish Metal band.

Setlist (without engagement)
01. A Great Night on the Lash
02. Paint the Town Red
03. Shakespeare Road
04. The Hunger & the Fight
05. Give it All Ya Got
06. The Wild Rover
07. Never Let You Down
08. Is This Bar Open Til Tomorrow
09. Punk Rock Saved My Life
10. Drunken Lazy Bastard

Music: 8
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 8
Total: 8 / 10

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AVATAR is a Swedish Heavy Metal band, formed in Gothenburg in 2001. The band has released seven studio albums, the most recent being ‘Avatar Country’ in 2018. The band has had some success on US Rock radio as well, notably with their song ‘New Land’, which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in May 2017.

Music & Performance
But no matter how entertaining the supporting groups of the evening were, the actual reason for the audience’s appearance was of royal importance. None other than the king of ‘Avatar Country’, Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby, honoured the Kulturfabrik in Esch with his loyal following, consisting of singer Johannes Eckerström, guitarist Tim Öhrström, bassist Henrik Sandelin and drummer John Alfredsson.

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The Swedish musicians of AVATAR already proved how complex it is to market a concept album correctly with the release of their latest work, ‘Avatar Country’, in which they published elaborately designed videos in which the flourishing economy of the fictitious state of the same name was praised. They maintained this illusion during their show in Esch. They did this, for example, by having a specially conceived state radio broadcast over the loudspeakers as entertainment during the stage set-up phase. Of course the staged contributions were mainly about the glorification of the king. As epic as ever, the king and guitarist Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby himself, appeared before his people with a golden crown and a red cape and got the greatest recognition. The drummer, the bassist, the guitarist and the singer entered the stage afterwards and were greeted by their followers with thunderous applause and stretched devil horns.

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The show started with the song ‘A Statue of the King’, which was hurled into the audience with immense energy. Characteristic for AVATAR are above all the regular speeches of singer Johannes dressed in a black circus uniform, whose face was made up as an uncanny clown grimace. The band went on with hits like ‘Legend Of The King’ - which also featured a magnificent throne for the king where he sat with this custom Ibanez Guitar in his hand - ‘Paint Me Red’, ‘Bloody Angel’ and ‘Get In Line’, all of which were made of the finest Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal, paired with Heavy Metal elements from the loudspeakers, and provided for exuberant head-banging. With ‘Tower’ the five men from Gothenburg finally played a somewhat quieter song, which allowed a short relief of the neck muscles, before the steaming Metal roller struck again mercilessly and the smash hit ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ was thrown into the crowd and - like almost all songs of the band - enthusiastically roared along by the fans. “It’s warm in here, but we want it hot,’ Johannes finally said in his usual theatrical voice, alluding to the hit ‘Let It Burn’.

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Quitting guitar riffs, rhythmic drum sounds as well as the versatile voice of Johannes Eckerström and his energetic appearance merged to a perfect stage show. Just when you thought that this was probably the last song, the quintet played another musical blow and started the next smash. So followed a short drum solo by John Alfredsson, before the spectators heard ‘Smells Like A Freakshow’, ‘Torn Apart’ or ‘The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country’. “We’re not afraid of the end of the world because we’re metal heads”, Eckerström screamed into the crowd before and they agreed loudly cheering and screaming devil horns. Johannes Eckerström - an entertainer who couldn’t be better. Surrounded by four grandiose live musicians and an equally fantastic stage concept a wonderful combination! The glorious end of the show was finally made by the smash hit ‘Hail The Apocalypse’, which once again enhanced the grandiose atmosphere in the Kulturfabrik.

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‘Smells Like a Freakshow” - and what a show! The Metal combo from Gothenburg knows their trade and their concerts are absolutely worth seeing. AVATAR delivered a grandiosely thought-out stage performance which, thanks to singer Johannes, who led through the show in horror circus style, was in any case also visually appealing.

00. Glory To Our King
01. A Statue Of The King
02. Legend Of The King
03. Paint Me Red
04. King’s Harvest
05. Bloody Angel
06. For The Swarm
07. Get In Line
08. Tsar Bomba
09. Tower
10. The Eagle Has Landed
11. Let It Burn
12. King After King
13. Reload
14. Smells Like A Freakshow
15. Torn Apart
16. The King Welcomes You To Avatar Country
17. Hail The Apocalypse

Music: 9
Performance: 10
Sound: 9
Light: 9
Total: 9.3 / 10

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All Pictures by Elena Arens

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