Sunday, 11 May 2014

Live Report: Chthonic At The Opera House In Toronto - May 1, 2014

Freddy Lim plays the erhu at The Opera House
(photo: Sabrina Ramos)


By James C. Stewart

On April 24, 1970, a member of the World United Formosans for Independence, Peter Huang, attempted to assassinate Chiang Ching-kuo (former Vice Premier of the Republic of China), in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The attempt ended in failure; however, when pushed to the ground by security personnel Huang shouted, “Let me stand up like the Taiwanese!”
“We are Chthonic from Taiwan!”
—Freddy Lim, May 1, 2014. The Opera House, Toronto.

Following their striking instrumental introduction Arising Armament, Taiwanese metal icons Freddy Lim, Jesse Liu, Dani Wang and the stunning Doris Yeh, launched into their first concert in Toronto since 2011 with Supreme Pain for the Tyrant, a powerful song boiling out of the rage and memories of Taiwan’s war torn history. From the 2013 album Bú-Tik, the war cry “Let me stand up like a Taiwanese! Only justice will bring you peace!” infected even non-Taiwanese fans.

Almost the entire set list was from the Bú-Tik album, with the exceptions of classics Oceanquake and Takao, both from their previous effort Takasago Army (2011). With five bands at PaganFest it was an unfortunately short set, 40-odd minutes, but highlights like Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire and Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace made it worthwhile. The show was fantastic, and demonstrated the adaptability of the act.

Deprived their keyboard player CJ Kao, Chthonic’s response was to give the audience a stripped-down version of the band, proving the virtuosity of these sophisticated musicians. The result was raw power, interrupted occasionally by Lim’s haunting erhu and Doris’ evocative vocals. Worth noting was a heart-rending version of Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace, the band seeming to reach the peak levels of performance.

After the concert Freddy, Doris and Jesse seemed relaxed and in high spirits. The band was incredibly forthcoming with fans, taking the time for pictures and questions…a refreshing way to cap a refreshing if not incendiary evening.

Doris Yeh (bass) at The Opera House
(photo: Sabrina Ramos)

The Opera House set list:

1. Arising Armament (intro)
2. Supreme Pain for the Tyrant
3. Oceanquake
4. Next Republic
5. Sail Into the Sunset’s Fire
6. Defenders of Bú-Tik Palace
7. Takao

Band members:

Freddy Lim – vocals, erhu
Doris Yeh – bass, backing vocals
Jesse Liu – guitars, backing vocals
Dani Wang – drums
CJ Kao – keyboards (absent for personal reasons).