What is the recipe for a great summer? If you ask me I would say a mix of
- 1 part Finnish black/trash metal,
- 3 parts Swedish cosplay/anime/manga/game convention and
- 4 parts Japanese “black metal, darkwave, NWOBHM and other eclectic genres of music”
I call this a “Black summer”, a refreshing and very memorable concoction of great music, old and new friendships and bright Nordic summer nights.
So, how did it all start? In March 2019 I saw on Facebook that Necronomidol (Bandcamp, Youtube, Spotify) would play in Finland and Sweden in July. Adding together Sweden + July + Japanese popculture it was pretty easy to arrive at the answer Närcon, Swedens biggest convention focusing on cosplay, manga, anime, idol culture and gaming. So I messaged my friend David who is founder and vice president of Närcon: “Rumour has it that Necronomidol is going to play at Närcon. Is it true?” David: “It isn’t official yet. Give me a week and I’ll tell you more.” [One week later.] Me: “?” David: “It is confirmed: concert, Q&A and more.” Me: “I’ll give my soul for a ticket.” David: “If you can bring a car and work in our special problems task force you may keep your soul.” Me: “Deal done!”
So there I was happily looking forward to three days at Närcon when the thought struck me that I’ve never been to Uleåborg (Oulu). Since I’m a BIG fan of smaller venues and 45 Special appeared to be just that I didn’t hesitate long before buying a ticket to Necronomidol’s first concert in the Nordic countries.
The concert in Uleåborg (Tuesday, July 23) began, as is often the case, outside a closed door on Saaristonkatu 12. First in line was Seppo, Sini and a guy from Tammerfors (I forgot your name, sorry!) and me. We had a good time sharing memories from Bandmaid’s concert in Helsinki last year and discussing Babymetal’s concert in Stockholm in February 2020. The three VIP:s entered for the poster signing session and the rest of us could get (a Finnish) beer in the bar.
Soon it was time for the show and the four of us who had met outside made our way to the very front of the room. It was a small stage, about 10 meters wide and 4 meters deep. First up was Bonehunter (Bandcamp, Youtube, Spotify), a band from Uleåborg who played together with Necroma at Live House Ryogoku Sunrize in February, 2019. I hadn’t heard Bonehunter before and I’m happy I got a chance to get to know them. Really great black/thrash metal. This is a band I’ll listen to more!
Then, at a quarter to eleven, Necronomidol entered the stage, something I’ve been looking forward to since I first saw the music video for Ithaqua in May 2017. And it was a truly great show! So much energy, so much fun! Himari, Kunogi-chan, Michelle, Okaki and Rei were like black bats in the dimly lit room, rapidly swirling around while taking us through a varied list of songs from Lamina Maledictum to Children of the Night. I was so close to the stage that I could feel the draught when they danced past. I even got hit by Rei’s frilly sleeves a couple of times.
At around midnight (a fitting hour!) the concert ended and was followed by a group cheki session where I, lo and behold, got my very first cheki ever! (Not my last though as the story will show …)
A couple of pictures from the show in Uleåborg follows below.
The next day (Wednesday) I went back to Stockholm with the 9 AM flight from Uleåborg. Turns out the band and their team had already gone with the flight at 7 AM …
The early morning of Thursday (July 25) saw me heading south to Linköping. The first event was a fan meet up where Paul presented his idea for a gift: a Swedish flag where all the fans could sign their names. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the idea.
An hour later there was a group cheki event which attracted a rather select group of fans. The band members were kind and friendly as always. Even though this was the second time meeting the band members I was still nervous and talked to much … But I got my second cheki!
At 10 PM, when the Swedish summer night at least becomes a little darker, the band entered Närcon’s Main stage. A lot of people (seasoned fans as well as many fresh souls) but Paul, Pepijn, Filip and his friends and I managed to get close to the fence up front. The stage was a great deal bigger (at least four times bigger) than in Uleåborg but the band had been practicing during the afternoon and made good use of the whole stage. Many new souls were harvested during the concert as I was able to ascertain after the show and during the next day. I don’t have to official number of people in the audience but my estimate would be 400 or 500 persons.
The band recieved our gift and appeared very happy! All in all, it was a great show.
The following day (Friday, July 26) allowed for some rest for the band members since their first event was at 8:30 PM. I spent the day getting some work done (among other things buying 15 spotlights and 200 meter of electric cable for the so called Zen garden) but also took the opportunity to (again) visit the merch table in Artist’s alley.
Derek was there and we were able to speak a little about the concert and the band’s impressions of Finland, Sweden, Närcon and yesterdays concert. Derek had to run some errands so I got the chance to fill the role as “master of merch” for 5 or 10 minutes. A lot of people came up to table, shared their thoughts about the concert and were duly informed not to miss the Q&A later in the evening. When Derek got back I bought a couple of chekis and got one of the new pins.
After this I attended the first meeting of Svensk Idolsällskapet (roughly The Swedish Idol Association). This non-profit association is open for anyone who is interested in idols and idol anime. This was certainly a very timely event and a lot of the members turned up at the Q&A, as did a lot of other people also. In total I would say that about 80 or 100 persons attended.
The Q&A started with some warm up questions from Derek that were answered by Ricky and the band members. Ricky also had some questions and after that the session was opened for questions from the floor. Approximately ten questions were put forward (the first one from Jesus himself!). We got to know that Michelle designs the costumes, Himari works with the lyrics, Okaki does choreography, Rei is involved in creating the music and Kunogi-chan looks at everything with new eyes so as to find thing to improve. The group also said that they would like to come back to Sweden during the winter and that that would be a good chance to do Ithaqua again. For more Q&A:s see our collaborative minutes of the Q&A.
After the Q&A there was an impromptu group cheki session with an impressively long queue. A memorable cheki was the one with the newly elected board of Svenska Idolsällskapet together with the band. I thought two chekis in three days were enough but ended up taking a third cheki.
On Saturday (July 27) the band gave a short (Children of the Night, NYX and Skulls in the Stars) ”intermission show”. The show took place while the judges in The Cosplay Performance Competition conferred. The show was a good opportunity for the band to reach out to those that hadn’t been to the concert. It was a short but very intense show. The band members had obviously had the chance to rest a bit and were full of new energy.
Later in the afternoon there was a third cheki session, this time for individual chekis. But then, alas, I was already in the car and on my way home.
So, how can you summarize four fantastic days with Necronomidol? My first reflexion is that when I began listening to the band a couple of years ago I thought “Here is another great Japanese band I’ll only be able to see live if I go to Japan”. Even though Sweden, together with Finland and Norway, is the metal centre of the world (or at least so we like to think) a lot of bands find our countries not exactly on their main tour route. That is why I was really happy when I saw Necromas schedule for the summer 2019.
Even if I have listened quite a lot to Necronomidol and often return to their music videos (which BTW really convey the dark spookiness that is the band’s image) it was something completely different see them live, at the concerts, at the Q&A and at the cheki sessions.
The band members put in a lot of energy in their shows, an energy that is shared with the audience. They also have a great interaction with the audience. This might have been easy in Uleåborg where we were about 150-200 persons and us in the front were like 50 cm from the band members but they did this at Närcon as well where stage and distance (both in length and height) to the audience was much greater. You often get the feeling that Okaki and Himari are looking directly at you.
During the Q&A and, of course, the cheki sessions (and, for me, two random meets at Närcon) it also became clear that the band members are very kind and considerate. For example, they take a lot of care and put in a lot of work to learn some words in the language spoken in the country they are (and, no, you don’t have any help in learning Swedish after learning Finnish). But last, and foremost, Himari, Kunogi-chan, Michelle, Okaki and Rei are very talented, hard working and diligent artists.
I’m very thankful to have had the chance to spend four days with Necronomidol in Finland and Sweden and to have been able to meet with the band members and their managers. I’m also very happy for getting to know some of the band’s fans. We will keep supporting Necronomidol in the future! Our souls have been harvested!
PS More of my pictures are available in the Facebook group Necronomidol Fans World Wide.