His hat is on the piano. JOHANNE’S HAT IS ON THE PIANO. HIS HAAAATTTTT!!!! Oh guys, it’s just that the last time Devo and her sister saw Avatar in the (feathers and) flesh, Johannes wore no hat, then a few songs in he put on a hat, and the pair of us lost our beers and our minds, and started a two-person pit. Over the aforementioned hat. Good times. And not only has it been so long since anyone anywhere has seen a live band, it’s also been so long since anyone anywhere has seen their own beloved siblings, for crying out loud. But here is Johannes and his headgear in all their glory, belting out a set list of songs from Avatar’s two concept albums – ‘Feathers And Flesh’ (2016) and ‘Avatar Country’ (2018). And with long hair swinging in synch, Avatar save Lockdown Version 3.0 for the second week running.
Somehow ‘Illusions’ is a pretty emotional affair. Maybe it’s because ‘Feathers And Flesh’, whose tracks make up the first part of this spectacular, is a storybook brought to life. Probably it’s because of Johannes’ heartfelt delivery. It’s amusing in places too – like watching drummer John Alfredsson totter through three stage sets to find the perfect drum kit (which also shows the scale of this production). ‘Black Waters’ is given a touching intro from Johannes, and a foreboding backdrop, not to mention a perfect rendition. Grit your teeth friends – we’re headbanging hard now.
Throughout this show the band are totally into it. They just nail the whole livestream gig thing. If this is how we get our live music fix for the foreseeable future, then so be it. We can suffer this standard of production until such times as we can all be reunited. You can see everything. EVERYTHING!!! The world’s tallest man cannot block your view at these shows. Well, if he does you might want to call the police to let them know you have a trespasser in your home. You’re not in danger of being covered in flying beer or being clunked in the head by crowd surfers. You don’t need to queue in the cold!!!
On with the show. Here cometh the throne, the pyro and a strategically placed camera, and, citizens of Avatar Country, behold. It is time for the second half. Johannes seems unable to contain himself and, frankly, neither can we. That’s right – the plural. We are all citizens now. Including the world’s tallest man. This section is utterly theatrical and utterly brilliant. The guitars are heroic. Majestic. How Johannes still has a voice left by the end of this is anyone’s guess.
Tonight we are in another realm. That is, after all, the purpose of these two albums. But this show is so engrossing everything else is forgotten. There is no time to think of your troubles. Those little voices niggling away in your head all day long are silenced for the duration of this livestream. It’s only when a couple of crew members arrive to assist our glorious King, wearing their face coverings, that the big bad outside world forces its way back in.
But together, as music fans, we are strong. We are brave. And we will get through this global pandemic and anything else that gets thrown at us. In the words of Johannes, ‘testify’! It’s not always easy to be positive in times like these, but Avatar’s incredible livestreams have so far been an injection of musical joy that surge through your veins and into your heart.