Dark Tranquillity / Omnium Gatherum February 4th, The Barfly, Birmingham By Philip Whitehouse It goes without saying that Monday night is hardly the ideal timeslot for a metal gig. Post-weekend bankruptcy, the depression that comes naturally as a result of having just returned to work with four more days of it to go, and the difficulties inherent in travelling back from a venue and getting home in enough time to lever in at least a few hours' kip before returning to the office drone life the morning after all contribute towards ensuring that its a rare line-up that entices me out on the day that Dylan famously isn't too keen on. So, it was with some annoyance that I discovered that Evile, those fast-rising thrash metal upstarts, were mysteriously absent from the bill tonight, despite being featured on the posters. Later research informed me that the band had cancelled on the tour at the last minute, leaving Finnish deathsters Omnium Gatherum as sole support. Thankfully, the affable Fins acquitted themselves admirably, storming into tracks like 'Something Like Chameleon Skin' with aplomb, despite the fact that the venue was still largely half-empty. The band's blend of melodic death metal with tastefully-applied prog flourishes and atmospheric keys shook some of the more lethargic members of the audience out of their reveries, soaring leads capturing the attention and jackhammering beats firmly setting heads banging. The performance was good enough to ensure that I left the venue that night clutching a copy of the band's latest album. Then, after a somewhat extended delay as techs fiddled with gear behind a laughably ineffective veil in front of the stage, on came the headliners - the main reason for me even bothering to leave the house on the most feared day of the week. Thankfully, Dark Tranquillity made the trip more than worth both mine and the audience as a whole's while. The band performed with an energy and conviction that made even Omnium Gatherum's impressive set look static, Mikael Stanne's now-trademark enthusiasm for and obvious enjoyment of live performance further boosting the crowd's energy levels. Though a lot of material from Character and Fiction was performed, Dark Tranquillity didn't skimp on tossing out old favourites like fragmentation grenades - 'Punish My Heaven' here, 'Therein' there, each performed with an intensity and vigour that made the atmosphere feel more like a Saturday night at an arena, rather than a Monday night in The Barfly.