Spent friday evening on Senaatintori, enjoying the free concert put up by Helsingin Juhlaviikot. The subject was the year 1968, and covering the songs of the year were a bunch of finnish vocalists, singing to a well-stocked house band.
Walked in as the last of the warm-up bands, Eternal Erection, was finishing its set. The intermission before the main event was considerably brightened by a reel of snippets from Helsingin Sanomat running on screens next to the stage. The reel consisted not only of news (the occupation of Czechoslovakia, assassinations of King and Kennedy and sports featured prominently) but nostalgic ads from forty years ago also got their fifteen seconds of fame.
The concert kicked off predictably. Tipe Johnson’s (off Leningrad Cowboys) rendition of Steppenwolf’s Born to be wild was faithful to the original and not at all a bad start.
The artists changed quickly on stage, and alternated between individual songs and medleys.
The song selection (of which there seems to be no official set list available) was picking the cream of the crop of the year, and with a couple of exceptions consisted of familiar takes.
My favorites were the Zeppelin’s Good times, bad times, the Who-medley (Pinball wizard, Pictures of Lily and See me, feel me) and Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Sympathy for the Devil.
The latter Stones’ piece was sung by Maya Paakkari, an artist unknown thus far, but based on her output (also sung Piece of my Heart) definitely worth of further investigation.
By far the biggest production values were used on Fredi’s Kolmatta Linjaa. Ismo Alanko was accompanied by some thirty members of the Cantores Minores on stage, and the rendition was somewhat unorthodox.
Marzi Nyman’s take on Hendrix classics (All along the Watchtower and Crosstown Traffic) was inspring, but seemingly too long and boring for some audience members. I figure the loudest singalongs happened with Mrs. Robinson and the final duet of Paula Koivuniemi and Mike Monroe of Hey Jude. The sole encore was the only song performed by the original artist from forty years ago – Eero Raittinen’s Vanha Holvikirkko was a spine-tingling finale in the quickly darkening Helsinki night.
The conditions were pretty much optimal. The weather was warm and almost windless. The crowd large and milling, but not packed like sardines. Drunken kids, always a plague on Night of the Arts events, mostly absent.
My n95 is still out of action (supposedly news of its condition should arrive next week), and the loaner phone’s basic 1 megapixel camera was not going to do well at all in the twilit conditions, hence the lack of pictures.