This was my third time bearing witness to the healing ritual of Heilung, they have had the most profound and important effect upon my life. It was touching to see this journey reflected in the eyes of those around me who had come to heal for the very first time. What they witnessed may very well be another defining and pivotal moment in Heilung history.
I have put off writing this because I fear I could never do Heilung justice with my words, but having taken my time to think about what I saw.. Many things have dawned on me that even long time Heilung fans may not have realised, and I wish to point a few things out that may deepen your love for their ritual.
The Review is later if you want to skip this unusually long intro from me, but I do have a very important point to say first, I promise it is worth it!
First of all, lets set the scene:
2014 - Kai Uwe Faust and Christopher Juul formed the premise of Heilung from their pagan love and the old Norse tattoos Kai was well known for creating. Juul, being a producer offered Kai the use of his recording studio to start the process.
2015 - Maria Franz, Juul's partner joined Heilung and the band self released the album 'Ofnir'
2017 - You know that incredible performance at CastleFest we have all seen on YouTube? The one that made us go from a confused face, to a dropped jaw, to a life defining moment of deep clarity in the space of only one performance?
That was their first ever live show..
Let that sink in and just think on that for a minute before what I have to say next..
And if you haven't seen that turning point in history, here it is:
I need to make a quick personal point to make my overall point, bear with me!
2018/19 - In November 2018 I saw them in London (not realising it was probably their first show in the UK) with someone very special to me that had helped me delve in to Nordic Paganism, though our contact seems to have ended I truly and deeply wish them the best and the unwavering favour and love of the Gods to ever be with them. After that show I questioned everything about my Christian beliefs and who I was as a person, I cried happy tears and felt the healing that was promised. Again in November 2019 we both saw Heilung again with two other friends very close to our lives and in our pagan journey. I cried harder and felt the pain of an awful year washed away, it was at that point I truly converted to the old Gods.
2020 - Disaster had struck the world with Covid and Heilung was postponed again and again. The healing I so desperately needed from a truly awful year in my personal life and for some many others out there, was lost.
Finally, three years later, their third London show was about to begin at Hammersmith Apollo. My partner and I queued early for hours to get front centre barrier.(Only to be in vane because the tickets I bought in 2019 for this show were re-sent from the Brixton venue change and now would not scan, meaning I spent 20 minutes at the box office quite annoyed at ticketmaster as the queues rushed in..) Our night was rescued by a kind man who let us squeeze in at the far right barrier. This man told me he had recently discovered Heilung and he truly believed Heilung had helped him so much that he was now in remission of Cancer! Also, that he did not know quite why Heilung meant so much to him, other than how it made him feel spiritually.
Others we met that night also explained it was their first time. To see such joy, hope, and love for Heilung, even in the freezing queue and a cramped barrier was awe-inspiring. I was seeing how far the group had come and their effect on the world before they were even on the stage again.
This hopefully puts across in some small way the magic in that venue and the electricity of every baited breath.
MY POINT! - CastleFest to almost all of us, and to those who I had met this night, was an incredible masterpiece of a performance. A true turning point in the history of the spread of modern Paganism/Odinism/Asatru/Poly-Theism, whatever you wish to name it.. You cannot deny Heilung have had a strong hand in the spread of paganism.
BUT.. No one at CastleFest knew what to expect, or who Heilung were.. They - like we were - first watching that video, were confused, then lost to the music, and finally elated to have experienced such a show.
It was precisely because of this that Heilung were able to put on such a poignant epic..
Not only did the band know that they had to get it perfect first time, otherwise they would appear fascicle to the audience with such a new and experimental approach to live music but they knew it may effect the live recording and muddy years of hard work and dedication to have got to where they were.
Thankfully, they were given respectful tranquillity and hypnotised peace by the audience who remained captivated on Maria's every delicate vocal note, and every guttural growl from Kai.
Those witnessing that live show did not know what was being sung next, what vocal sound or note would be played next, and so kept quiet as Maria spun the most intricate and delicate feats of vocal perfection imaginable to the joy of us all worldwide immortalised in recording..
If you want a more substantial opinion on this check out this amazing YouTube channel where a vocal coach has covered many Heilung songs in detail with such love that she ended up interviewing Maria too because of them!
This sadly is not something Heilung are able to do now to their full capability because as we know, the CastleFest audience were loud enough in their applause and elation at the end of each track back then.. Well, now that their audiences know what to expect and cry out far more regularly in over zealous joy, Heilung have masterfully compensated for this which I will briefly discuss in the review section.
Heilung also recorded this performance for 'Their next release' so here's to hoping for a Live show DVD soon to relive the magic. This is why I think it will be another pivotal point (as with CastleFest) that will spread their message to an even wider audience!
Also .. For those unaware, £1 from each ticket sale on this tour is being donated to Trees For Cities. An organisation working at a local and international scale to improve lives by planting trees in cities!