HEILUNG, at the Riviera Theatre Chicago
Sold Out- at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago
Heilung. A band of many many mysteries.
Heilung, whose members are spread across Norway, Denmark and Germany, have finally graced the North American shores, with a stop in the midwest, at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
This was a very special occasion indeed, considering there’s only 7 dates in the states total, and we were lucky to be the recipient of one of them.
To clarify a bit in regards to the background of Heilung, and those that are not in the know:
On their Instagram account, this is their mantra to live by: “Remember that we are all brothers”.
On Facebook, this is there description and what you should know before making assumptions: “Heilung is amplified history from medieval northern Europe and should not be mistaken for a modern political or religious statement of any kind.”
To go further in regards to Heilung and its core beliefs, courtesy of Heilung’s founder and principle player Christopher Juul: “Our sound is from the Northern European Iron Age and Viking period. We used everything from running water, human bones, reconstructed swords and shields up to ancient frame drums and bronze rings in the songs. The lyrics contain actual texts from rune stones and preserved spear shafts, amulets and other artifacts. Furthermore, poems, which either deal with historical events and texts or are translations / interpretations of the originals. Every attempt to link the music to modern political or religious points are pointless, since we in Heilung try to connect the listener to the time before Christianity and its political offsprings raped and burned itself into the northern European mentality. Heilung means “healing” in German, and describes the core of the sound. It is supposed to leave the listener eased and relaxed after a sometimes turbulent musical journey,”
The Heilung faithful in attendance on the main floor of the Riviera Theatre in Chicago, makes their presence known, stake their territory by the main stage with wolf howls of all kinds- individual howls, ritual howls, communal howls, female howls, male howls. Howls of all kinds mixed and unmixed.
Consider a Heilung show to be a ritual of sorts, to a packed house, even on a chilly January Monday night.
As for Heilung itself, not much needed in regards to special effects- just use of extraordinary lighting, a riser that comes out to the main floor from the center stage, and an elevated back area for assorted percussionists and background singers.
The overall effect, the feel of the performance was spine tingling, with the three principle players of Heilung- Christopher Juul, Kai Ewe Faust and Maria Franz, given their turns on center mic and roaming the stage in theatrical ritual, in communion with the faithful audience, in communion with the entire band.
This is clearly a band operating on all cylinders and on their own wavelength, on their own timeframe in historical context, done with much thought and care to detail, and they’re not like many bands that you can think of.
Heilung is a band that forges ahead with a deep audience bond, to the point where in certain instances, silence is golden, silence is key.
It’s scripted to the point, most likely from the immense popularity of their Youtube videos, showig in great detail what the audience prepares for when encountering a Heilung performance, from costumes and Mother Nature imagery, to the actual setlist and performance of each and every song.
I hate to use the word fanatical, but you’ll get the gist if you’re lucky enough in the future to capture a Heilung performance live and in person.
From there initial popular video on Youtube from a performance at Castlefest back in 2017, it still is riveting, feeling an instinctive connection to a band of antler wearing heathens banging hide drums to a trance inducing 4/4 beat, continually, with exotic chanting and deep throat singing courtesy of Christopher Juul, all three band members barefoot throughout, with face painted warriors brandishing swords and shields while a transfixed audience gets in on the fray and chants likewise back, louder, and wanting more, as if this should never end, and let’s do this till dawn.
Heilung is the definition of pagan spirituality, of genuine fun and mischief, of reconnecting communally with like minded folk, forget your past, relish in the present, enjoy the now.
Can’t emphasize enough how a Heilung show affects you, leaves you reeling, and that you witnessed something profound.
Heilung- performing live – a must see.
Cheers- Bobby Talamine – Music Photographer