Despite the relentless churn of technology, cast as some sort of advancement to our lifestyles, humans have not stopped yearning for simpler times. Camping, hunting, fishing, communing with your fellow man, jumping off the grid for as long as possible – all of these things have and never will go away. The primal, inner urges that were shaped for eons still have a solid, resilient core deep within us.
Heilung understand this better than most, and have found a brilliant way to tap into this, in a way that changes the entire makeup of a randomly assembled collection of humans. Springing from a meeting of like-minded Northern Europeans, this German-Danish collective have rolled up their sleeves and have done some deep research into the lifestyles and culture of ancestors that walked the same grounds, only thousands of years before when there were no Amazon distribution centers or cell towers. A handful of years after getting the project (I hesitate to call it a band) going, Kai Uwe Faust, Christopher Juul and Maria Franz could hardly believe that just the promise of their stage presence would get a sold-out room baying like wolves in anticipation.
Beginning with a cleansing ceremony, Faust held a swath of burning sage, circled the stage and spread billowing smoke across his colleagues. The packed room was held in rapt silence until the spell was broken by Franz’ sharp drum hit, and the performance was on.
The pelts, bones, antlers and body paint were ubiquitous, and the primal energy of Heilung was stark and impossible to miss. Themes of survival, warfare, celebration, sex – all essential components that have kept humans (and all living things for that matter) on this planet for countless years were spun out in various forms and expressions. Faust’s vocals were otherworldly, both in language and his throat singing-like delivery and a trio of female backing vocalists brought depth and power. It’s hard to leave a Heilung performance without feeling uplifted and changed, at least until the next urgent mobile phone notification ruins the moment.