Avatar Ages: Illusions, or the Age of Illusions, is the 2nd of 4 live stream events happening over the course of January brought to us by the masterful Swedish, metal band, Avatar.
Over the course of January we will be treated to 4 events based around the entirety of the charismatic band’s existence. The Age of Dreams covered their most recent, and excellent, release, Hunter Gatherer along with some additional fan favourites. That took place on the 9th and you can read our thoughts on that here. The 16th, the topic of this review, saw Avatar tackle a fan voted set list from the albums Feathers and Flesh and Avatar Country under the heading of Illusions.
The 23rd of January will bring the Age of Madness which sees the band look further back with the Black Waltz and Hail the Apocalypse albums tackled. Finally, on the 30th of January we go back to the early days with the Age of Memories with another fan voted set list from the albums Thoughts of No Tomorrow, Schlact and Avatar. Obviously Age of Dreams and Illusions are done now but tickets can still be purchased for the other events from the Avatar Ages site, here.
Something already known but proved again on Dreams is that Avatar always give 100%. Metal to them is a complete art where the visuals, their actions and the music all go hand in hand to create the Avatar experience. So, forearmed with that knowledge, the anticipation for Illusions as the stream counts down the last 30 minutes is palpable. Is it gonna be a great show? Of course it is.
Exactly like the first show, Avatar effort means that even the countdown cannot be standard so we again get treated to the ambient versions of the Hunter Gatherer tracks. With 5 minutes to go, that switches to the fan sent videos of us chanting Avatar. You know, like we would do at the beginning of a real show. I really love this video because it shows the breadth of the Avatar family. Male, female, young, old and every nationality – this band are loved globally across the entire demographic.
The screen blurs and starts slowly forming a picture where we see Johannes sat at a piano, alone. I imagine most people know what is coming, whether you have peeped at the set list or not. And so starts Regret with Johannes singing and playing beautifully in the melodic intro. As it builds, Johannes gets up and makes his way to the second part of their elaborate stage set up where the band are set up and ready to blaze into the musical mastery that make sup the second part of this song and then leads directly into my personal favourite, House of Eternal Hunt. What a song and what a performance. The band blast us with energy through the screen, engulfing us in enthusiasm and ecstasy amidst the blazing solos and blasting drums.
Avatar stick with Feathers and Flesh for the first half of Illusions and keeps it album order, where a song was voted for. That means next up we get The Eagle Has Landed, always a favourite and powerfully performed. New Land, Tooth Beak and Claw and For the Swarm come next hitting us with full force and all Avatar’s fire. It’s brilliant and hypnotising to watch.
The band again look fired up and Johannes in particular appears to have had a few Red Bulls as he thrashes his way around the stage pulling all manner of facial expressions. Little gaps, as the bad move across their elaborate multi stage set up, see John Alfredsson (drums) have a little fun trying, testing and rejecting drum kits while walking like a puppet.
With their huge screen back drops displaying earth, water and the sky in line with the concept of the album, we jump into One More Hill before a masterful rendition of Black Waters. Another firm favourite of mine comes next with the pop punk like Night Never Ending that has us all singing along at home. When the Snow Lies Red follows and again we see the band just give everything they have as they launch themselves into head banging sections and throw themselves around theatrically. The first half of Illusions closes with a furiously passionate Raven Wine.
Avatar return for the second half in the same way as the first, slowly fading in to Johannes sitting a piano. Now in full Avatar Country gear, he treats us to a rendition of Glory to Our King, lounge style before he joins the rest of the band for some King based antics. We start with Legend of the King where the King (Jonas Jarlsby) sits on his throne while sparks fly skywards from the back of his throne. The track ends and the rest of the band leave while some King’s servants struggle to push him, and his throne, into another stage set up.
I did laugh at this. Especially as the King then leaves his throne as soon as he gets there. They take his crown, and robe. Hand him his axe and we go into the jump inducing Welcome to Avatar Country. Again Johannes is really throwing everything in to every second of every song, sounding incredible and just being immensely entertaining. A Statue of the King follows, then the immensely heavy King’s Harvest. This track packs some serious groove into it.
So we near the end, with just two tracks left to go. First up is The King Wants You, another groove filled banger before we end with the catchy as hell King After King. The Royal Orchestra leave, as the King stands for appreciation. It gets a little weird then as he continue standing and waving at us in his royal manner and then just staring. For the best part of 3 or 4 minutes. So, we stay and stare back in respect and appreciation and eventually we fade out to nothing.
Well not nothing. We leave Illusions in the same way as we did Dreams. Sad that it is over, grateful for Avatar’s effort and commitment and just feeling a ton lighter and more optimistic than before the show. The event was a huge success. Avatar sounded fantastic, of course, they entertained aurally and visually. The steam was top notch with no lag or issues and the track list was a banger, so well done fan voters. But mostly, thank you Avatar for another great evening of as live as possible metal.
Avatar Ages: The Age of Illusions (16/01/2021)
The Final Score - 9/10