NYC’s Irving Plaza has been a metal destination lately, as evidenced by the recent Sepultura/Crowbar/Sacred Reich show and last week’s showcase by New York Legends Demolition Hammer, Mortician and Immolation. This time around, black metal was the weapon of choice.

Cleveland’s Midnight (not to be confused with The Midnight, who are also touring) brought their brand of blackened heavy metal, the kind that Venom and Celtic Frost wouldn’t have been afraid to play, but with a more punk and hard rock edge. Aside from a few festivals and one-offs, this was Midnight's first time on the road since the pandemic, as frontman Athenar discussed in my recent interview with him:

Yeah, we’ve played some of these little dog piss shows, we did our Vegas show and the Decibel Festival, but never a tour. This is the first time that all the shows will be all in a row. 24 or so shows over the course of the month.

[...] We are just happy to get back on the road and play any city. Our [2017] Decibel Tour that we did with Kreator, Obituary and Horrendous was actually our first tour that we did more than 8 or 10 shows. Before that I would never accept anything. People would offer me things, but being that I’m not that ambitious I turned most others down. This new tour has the same amount of dates. We even toured with Obituary aside from the Decibel Tour.

This sold out, 1200-capacity Irving Plaza show would be their first in New York since they blew up Market Hotel in January of 2020, and with new album Let There Be Witchery in tow, you know that the band wanted to return with a renewed vigor. Playing something from just about everything they could from Satanic Royalty to Shox of Life, the live collective of Athenar, Commandor Vanik and SS left no stone unturned. The behooded trio frequently got the packed-in and moshing crowd chanting with classics like “Lust, Filth and Sleaze” and “Satanic Royalty” played alongside newbies like “Szex Witchery" and “Telepathic Nightmare.” It made for a set that ran the full gamut and left nary a neck uninjured. One of the best live acts going, bar none.

Norwegian black metal legends Mayhem were up next with a three-act set that got the crowd going nuts from the moment the lumbering giant known as Attila Csihar took the stage in the first of his two different clerical garbs, looking absolutely frightening, both in movement and in conjunction with the masterful lightning job.

The first act consisted of tracks from their newest album Daemon (2019) and one from their even-newer Atavistic Black Disorder / Kommando EP (2021), and a few other assorted tracks including some from 2000's Grand Declaration of War LP and "Symbols of Bloodswords" from 1997's Wolf’s Lair Abyss. The blood red cloak was fitting, as the band drew new blood on new soil for the album that hadn’t been properly toured in the US until this point.

The entire band left the stage before Act II for a costume change that found Necrobutcher, Teloch, Ghul and Attila all returning in black cloaks. The background colo also changed to purple for Act II, as the band ran through a few tracks of their classic debut De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, including personal favorites “Freezing Moon” and “Pagan Fears”. All of that second-wave black metal energy washed over the frenzied crowd that was far from being done thrashing about. For Act III, the band shed their cloaks and displayed their classic red logo in the background, as Attila commanded the band through a good portion of their Deathcrush EP, looking more and more frightening as the set continued.

Mayhem and Midnight complemented each other so well that the crowd was seemingly at full capacity before Midnight kicked off the gig, showing that if you have “it,” the New York metro area will be there in full force. This was a blackened night for the ages. See pictures from the whole show by Mathieu Bredeau, and Mayhem and Midnight's setlists, below.

Watain was also supposed to be on this tour, but had to drop off last minute for what they said was visa issues.

Midnight Setlist
Black Rock'n'Roll
Poison Trash
Evil Like a Knife
Lust Filth and Sleaze
Fucking Speed and Darkness
Szex Witchery
Satanic Royalty
You Can Drag Me Through Fire
Telepathic Nightmare
You Can't Stop Steel
Who Gives a Fuck?
Unholy and Rotten

Mayhem Setlist
Act I:
Falsified and Hated
To Daimonion
Bad Blood
My Death
Symbols of Bloodswords
Voces Ab Alta

Act II:
Freezing Moon
Pagan Fears
Life Eternal
Buried by Time and Dust

Act III:
Silvester Anfang
Chainsaw Gutsfuck
Pure Fucking Armageddon

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