Dec 282013

Voivod logo(In the series of long-overdue postings.)

Saw Voivod for the second time, after an interval of nineteen years.

Quite a lot has happened since my encounter with them in Club Zephyr in Salt Lake City promoting The Outer Limits back in 1994.

For starters the guys have aged well, and they still play well.

Happily enough, they played quite a bit of the old stuff, too, instead of concentrating on the newest albums:

Ripping Headaches
Target Earth
The Prow
Forgotten in Space
Mechanical Mind
Jack Luminous
Kluskap O'Kom
Psychic Vacuum
Tribal Convictions
Astronomy Domine

Yes. They played the whole Jack Luminous, in its seventeen minute glory.

And the songs off then-forthcoming Target Earth didn’t sound bad at all.

Jul 102013

Considering that it’s been more than a year, it’s better to do this quickly.

Just half a day.

It rained.

Sabaton was good, but having just jettisoned 3/5ths of the band, they were far too greatest hits-moody.

Swallow the Sun was good as well, but they aren’t much of a live band.

For the Imperium continues to impress.

Bought the Oddland album, I was disappointed with them in FME, but willing to give them a second chance.

Sep 022012

Spent two halves of an evening in the Finnish Metal Expo back in February.

On Friday: Missed most of Soen; saw ICS Vortex, Oddland, Swallow the Sun and finally Paradise Lost.

On Saturday: Just Turisas.

ICS Vortex was definitely not what I expected based on the lineup. Far more serene than a long history of Dimmu Borgir-membership would suggest.

Oddland was very progressive, and impossible to get a good idea of in thirty minutes. The songs were seriously on the right edge of the complexity scale, and the vocalist took a long while to get used to.

The two-headed doom metal attack was why I was in Kaapelitehdas, and both bands were new to me.

Swallow the Sun concentrated on material from their newest album, and were pretty much what I assumed: loud, professional and quite static on stage.

Paradise Lost played the best gig of the evening. Their set list covered their career, with one new song from the then-forthcoming album:

The Rise of Denial
Pity the Sadness
Forever Failure
The Enemy
Honesty in Death
One Second
As I Die
Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us
Say Just Words

Turisas played their worst gig I’ve seen thus far. Shorter than expected and just not that awesome as usual. Hangover from the major victories in the awards ceremony cannot be the cause, since the prizes were dealt out pretty much immediately before. The set list was short indeed, and missing the usual Boney M cover:

The March of the Varangian Guard
Take the Day!
To Holmgard and Beyond
The Dnieper Rapids
One More
The Great Escape
A Portage to the Unknown
Battle Metal
End of an Empire

Didn’t buy very many records, and only one shirt (as far as I recall).

Finnish Metal Expo 2012

Jun 092012

In the sadly prolonged series of seriously overdue posts: a gig report for a change.

Saw Iced Earth in Nosturi on the World Dystopia-tour back in late 2011.

Iced Earth live

The band’s new vocalist, Stu Black, had injected a lot of energy into the group and he blazed a quite decent trail through the long history of Iced Earth. His takes on the originals by Matt Barlow or Ripper Owens didn’t leave much to be desired.

The gig was long, and included plenty of classics in addition to material from the newest album. Split during the encore, and thus missed the extra song. But a quick exit instead of a thirty minute wait in the coat check was probably worth it.

Set list (as provided by, I missed quite a few songs):

Burning Times
Angels Holocaust
Slave to the Dark
Stand Alone
When the Night Falls
Dark City
The Hunter
Declaration Day
Days of Rage
Watching Over Me
Dante's Inferno
Iced Earth
My Own Savior

Saw half of the the warm-up band, Fury UK. Their old school metal was much better than expected, and I ended up picking up their record on the way out.

Sep 052011

Bon Jovi on stage in Helsinki 17.6.2011In the series of long overdue cultural adventures from the summer season, the time is ripe for a streetcred-shattering confession: I quite liked some bits of the Bon Jovi concert in June.

The setlist (as stolen from below) is neatly cloven in two. The old songs were quite decent (some way beyond their inherent nostalgia-value), whereas most of the new entries were either bordering on plain boring or at best devoid of the hooks that Desmond Child & co. wove into the band’s greatest hits.

The evening on the stadium in Helsinki was rainy, but to the credit of the frontman he managed to pull out most of the audience out of the seats during the first two songs, and never let go. Was parked on the pitch, so sitting down was never an option.

Missed warmups completely – the entry ceremony was once again complicated by the less than competent organizers.

The band started twenty minutes early. Which was much appreciated, since standing around in misbehaving crowds would have reached painful levels otherwise.

The stage was even more impressive than that of Rush earlier. The back wall was a huge screen on which scenes from the performance and setpieces were alternated throughout.

Jon Bon Jovi slipped during the gig on the wet stage, but pulled through the performance without a hitch. The sprained knee turned out not to bother too much initially, but necessitated crutches later on.

One more dinosaur seen, plenty to go still.

The set list was as follows:

Raise Your Hands
You Give Love a Bad Name
Born to Be My Baby
We Weren't Born to Follow
In These Arms
Lost Highway
It's My Life
We Got It Goin' On
Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars
Bad Medicine / Roadhouse Blues / Shout
Love's the Only Rule
When We Were Beautiful
Bed of Roses
I'll Be There For You
Who Says You Can't Go Home
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
No Apologies
Have a Nice Day
Keep the Faith
Thorn in My Side
Wanted Dead or Alive
Wild Is The Wind
Livin' on a Prayer
Aug 122011

Tiger LilliesSaw Tiger Lillies on their Freakshow tour in Savoy back in May.

Unlike the show back in 2008 this was a very tight set, no requests from the audience expected or granted.

In addition to the band, there was a set of circus performers on stage. Their abilities ranged from righteously awesome (a snake woman whose spine bent in ways not really expected) to more commonplace yet still great (rope acrobatics).

Photography on stage was strictly prohibited, and hence the only images are from the post-show signing session.

May 082011

Rush logoSaw Rush on their Time Machine tour on Wednesday.

They played in Hartwall Areena, the largest domestic indoor venue, and again sold out the place. Unlike their 2007 tour, this time there was no seating on the floor. But despite the increased number of people, there was no real crowding.

The stage had plenty of machinery on it, most of it either spinning or capable of showing images. But the main attractions were the awesome background screen that was put to good use throughout the show, and the lighting rig whose multi-coloured LEDs accompanied the songs flawlessly.

The concert was bookmarked by videos – two by the band to start the two halves of the gig, and a short movie clip (from I Love You, Man, where Rush had a cameo role) to tell the audience it’s time to go home.

The tour gained fame for the 30th anniversary of the band’s classic Moving Pictures album. But that was saved for the second half – first they rolled through a selection of songs from albums old, new and forthcoming. The sound was a bit awkward in the beginning – the mixers fixed things quickly, and the strangeness faded from Geddy Lee’s vocals.

T-shirts were prohibitively expensive at 35 euros, and the design that caught my eye the most (a Moving Pictures print stretching across the entire fabric) would have cost 50 euros.

Rush on stage, Helsinki, 4.5.2011

Set list was as follows, same as on every gig on the tour – with two new songs off the forthcoming Clockwork Angels:

The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Stick It Out
Workin' Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone

Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Drum Solo
Closer to the Heart
2112 Part I: Overture
2112 Part II: The Temples Of Syrinx
Far Cry
La Villa Strangiato
Working Man
Feb 282011

Spent one extended afternoon at the annual Finnish Metal Expo.

I aimed to see Sabaton, pick up a couple of records and have a good time in general.

The first goal was a clear success, the others less so.

Dreamshade was already on stage when we entered Kaapelitehdas. Their melodic death metal was a surprisingly effective introduction to the day, and sounded pleasant enough to warrant further investigation.

Which I attempted on the first of many breaks. With only one stage in use, the bands took a minimum of 30 minutes each for the gear changes. With a very limited set of shops (and even more limited set of food) there wasn’t really much to do. On previous visits there were plenty of recordstores attending with their booths filled to the brim. This time around the pickings were far more meager.

MyGrain continued in the same vein. Melodic death metal, with an energetic stage presence (the band took a pretty good grip on the gold medal in headbanging).

For the Imperium was an unorthodox combination of harcore, metal and weird stage presence. Didn’t convince me in the slightest, but seemed to be rather well accepted.

Triptykon was the first band I’d heard of before. It’s a rehashing of the venerable Celtic Frost, thrash metal with minimalistic activity on stage. The band grinded for an hour, the songs sounding the same to the layman. Same enough for me to miss even Circle of Tyrants amongst them – that was after all the very first metal song that I heard that dared to break from the common norm. In 1985 that song was pretty extreme.

Symfonia played their very first gig ever. Timo Tolkki’s new band had quite a shaky debut gig. The frontman himself seemed rather unstable, the songs never caught on fire, and the new vocalist (Andre Matos, originally from Angra) didn’t really fit in. Following an embarrassing round of stage speeches and ritualistic breaking of a guitar (carefully swapped in just before the act) the concert fizzled to a close. Rhapsody in Black didn’t sound bad at all, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the band’s next steps.

Sabaton on stage in Finnish Metal Expo 2011

Sabaton was the main event for a lot of attendees. The militaristic swedish power metallers played a pretty standard set, with sadly a couple of key songs (Final Solution for starters) swapped out. The band was in good form and enjoying the loud participation of the audience. Toward the end of the gig they broke the news that Sabaton would be playing in Ruisrock in the coming summer. Not a bad choice. Sabaton employed the biggest pyrotechnics I’ve seen thus far in Kaapelitehdas

The set list was as follows, left during Primo Vittoria to avoid the crush at the coat check.

Ghost Division
White Death
Cliffs Of Gallipoli
Attero Dominatu
The Price Of A Mile
Aces in Exile
Coat of Arms
Primo Victoria
Metal Medley

Ended up buying only one cd (and picked up a couple of freebies). Apart from the repetitive and prolonged breaks the festival entertaining enough.

Feb 192011

Saw a duo of bands in Semifinal on Thursday.

Voice Attention played nice female-fronted rock, with a bonus cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence tucked into the set. Didn’t buy their single. Should have had.

It’d been a long time since I last saw Placid Frenzy live. Set had evolved quite a bit since, and the songs alternated between complex and not so complex. No records for sale, yet.

Feb 072011

Turisas new logoSaw Turisas a couple of weeks ago, just before they embarked on a tour to America.

Missed the warm-up band entirely. The Saturday gigs in Tavastia start early (on account of the disco kicking off at 2330), and thus Daniel Lioneye was just too early for me.

Turisas played with their normal lineup, this time there were no massive orchestral manoeuvres on stage.

The setlist contained one third new songs, the obligatory cover song and a bunch of old classics:

Victoriae & Triumphi Dominus
As Torches Rise
One More
The March Of The Varangian Guard
To Holmgard and Beyond
Save the Day!
A Portage To the Unknown
In the Court of Jarisleif
Hunting Pirates
Rex Regi Rebellis
Stand Up and Fight
Battle Metal

Had heard the March of Varangian Guard and the title track of the forthcoming album previously – the other two new songs sounded interesting and complex enough not to give a verdict on the very first listen.

The album is out in two weeks time, definitely looking forward to it.

Nov 022010

Saw Turisas in the midpoint of a three-gig mini-tour across Finland. The concert in Nosturi was yet another reminder why the band is one of the finest live acts right now, and well worth seeking out.

Missed the start of the warm-up act, Kiuas, on account of slower than usual service in the neighboring Chicos. Kiuas didn’t leave a mark – it was quite OK as background music, but not enough to get excited about. An assessment that I’ll probably have to eat upon further exposure to their works.

Turisas had just finished recording their third studio album, and I certainly expected to hear a few songs off it. Only two were played, and the second one (Supernaut, a Black Sabbath cover) might not even make it to the album. The band was supplemented by six extra musicians. Musicians bearing classical instruments. Musicians whose presence meant that the band did not have to resort to using backing tapes. Musicians who made the concert a truly cross-genre event – at times the action on stage was closer to opera than conventional metal. The most symphonic songs (such as Miklagard Overture off the second album) sounded nothing less than awesome – and I look forward to the inevitable collaboration with a full orchestra in a couple of years.

The set list, nabbed from was as follows:

To Holmgard and Beyond
A Portage to the Unknown
One More
Cursed Be Iron
In the Court of Jarisleif
Five Hundred And One
The March Of Varangian Guard
Miklagard Overture
Rex Regi Rebellis
Battle Metal

Apart from the two new songs, nothing unusual in the list. The output plateaued a little around Jarisleif (not by any means a favorite of mine), but took on a lot of extra power in the encore.

The March of the Varangian Guard (available on youtube) continues the band’s saga within the walls of Constantinople.

The third, thus far unnamed album will be released in early 2011. I look forward to it and also to the accompanying promotional concerts.

Turisas on stage in Nosturi 30.10.2010

Jul 042010

My Tuska ticket

  • Top 3: Megadeth, Overkill, Kamelot.
  • Not worth seeing: Nah, everything was worth a look.
  • T-shirt pricing: Not too bad, mostly around 20€.
  • Friends sighted/encountered/avoided: Less than ten.
  • Passed-out attendees: Surprisingly few, considering the temperature.
  • Time spent in the official beer-drinking area: None (backpack’s a bitch to smuggle in).
  • Imaginative outfits: None, really.
  • Money spent on: One shirt, four records.
  • Amount of dust: Considerable.
  • Top “I bet that’s going to cause regrets in the morning” sight: A guy whose bald head bore the text GAMBINA done with a wide black permanent marker.

To cap the festival, it was announced that on account of impending renovations in the Kaisaniemi park, Tuska will move to Suvilahti (where hipsters’ own Flow already takes place) next year. Not too big a deal I guess, at least the area is rather conveniently reached with the metro. The grounds were rather full this year, no idea how much room for expansion is in the new location.

Jul 042010

Megadeth on stage in Tuska 2010Another day, another late arrival.

Planned to see Megadeth, everything else was icing on the cake.

And the icing was pretty thin this time around.

I’ve never been a fan of Cannibal Corpse, and the half an hour I saw the band today did not change matters. Uninteresting death metal with growly vocals just failed to appeal at all.

The penultimate slot was again split between two stages. Nile had a way bigger crowd. Big enough to deter from having a good spot to check them out. Acoustics from way down the side were sub-optimal and hence I refuse to give any verdict on them. [Amatory] on the other stage played decent nu-metal.

Megadeth was the main event for a lot of attendees based on the numbers in front of the main stage. They played some eighty minutes, and sadly did not cover the entire length of the classic Rust in Peace album that turns 20 years this summer.

The set list:

Wake up dead
In my darkest hour
Skin o' my teeth
Holy wars
Hangar 18
Five magics
Poison was the cure
Tornado of souls
Dawn patrol
Angry again
A tout le monde
Sweating bullets
Symphony of destruction
Peace sells

Not as earth-shattering an experience as the previous sighting in Tampere three years ago, but a decent gig nonetheless.

Jul 042010

Tuska 2010 main stageThe modus operandi of the second day followed the first, go in late and bail out before the last band finishes.

Devin Townsend Project‘s output seemed far more likable than Ziltoid the previous evening. Groovy, well-played and variable. Definitely worth a second look.

Survivors Zero played quite accessible death/thrash, with a Kreator-cover as the only recognizable element of their offering. Good enough to inspire me to pick up their single.

Kamelot‘s melodic power metal was accompanied by the heaviest pyro seen so far. The relentless display of burning kerosene probably was quite hard on the black-clad musicians on stage. Quite impressive, and worth a second look as well.

Overkill is a late eighties band that never made it big. And the guys have stayed angry and energetic ever since. All songs sounded mean and tightly wound. And that’s a compliment. Recognized a few of the old songs (Wrecking Crew, Rotten to the Core), and was very impressed by the energy and range put on Bobby Ellsworth – after all this is the third decade he’s been screaming his guts out.

Traded Overkill for Bloodbath around the halfway point of the gig. Mikael Åkerfeldt’s project played a few songs amidst long and rambling on-stage chats. Decent, but nothing really to get excited about – and yet another confirmation that death metal is not my cup of tea at all.

Nevermore replaced Mastodon as the headliner on Saturday. Warrel Dane wasn’t in the best form – sunshine in his eyes seemed rather distracting. Like so many other progressive metal bands, Nevermore just felt better off a record. Not on account of any desire to hear polished products.

Bought four records, no shirts, and nothing to eat or drink.

Tomorrow’s the time for Megadeth.

Jul 032010

Tuska 2010 logoSpent Friday evening in Tuska, the annual metal festival conveniently arranged in downtown Helsinki.

Walked in as two of the bands I wanted to see had been given concurrent timeslots. Swallow the Sun‘s melodic doom gathered fewer listeners than Pain‘s industrially overtoned metal. Both seemed to be in fine form, but neither was in their optimal environment. So, with fifteen minutes of each down, ambled down to the shirt vendors to check out the offerings.

Heard Satyricon from afar. Picnic trumped black metal. Mozzarella and reindeer were more interesting than corpsepainted norwegians. The music was not nearly as opposed to my tastes than I thought. Not the top albums on the “to get”-list, but not something to actively avoid either.

Ihsahn was the most unfamiliar element on stage, and didn’t really get a good dose, since walked off to the Inferno-stage to see Obituary, an old-school death metal band I first heard in the late nineties. Wasn’t truly impressed back then, and neither today.

The top billing of the day was Ziltoid the Omniscient, a stage production of Devin Townsend’s 2007 album. The concert was accompanied by video, too bad the only screen was diagonally opposite and mostly hidden by the mixing booth. Then again, the puppet show wasn’t too interesting anyway.

Bailed during the second half of the ZtO show, as the cat of the house demands food and petting before bedtime.

Aug 192009

Band of Horses setlist at Tavastia 18.8.2009Saw Jessica Lea Mayfield and Band of Horses in Tavastia.

The former was playing as we walked in, and continued her pleasant enough alt. country performance long enough to convince me to pick up her record.

The latter played close to two hours, a set of twenty songs (set list available in semi-encrypted form to the right). Funeral brought the biggest cheers from the audience. The three new songs (off a forthcoming record) sounded pleasantly different from each other.

T-shirts were very reasonably priced – and at 15€ cost all but the ladies’ shirts sold out well before the gig ended.

Aug 072009

Madonna ticketSpent yesterday evening in the very first gig organized in Jätkäsaari, on Madonna’s first visit to Finland.

The gig had been played up for weeks in the media, especially concentrating on the expected huge crowds (85000 tickets sold), and considering the organizer was the same as behind the less than successful Sonisphere festival in Pori a couple of weeks ago.

The arrival into the area was surprisingly smooth, and the flow never stopped at the gate.

The area was indeed huge and flat, with the video screens alongside the stage surprisingly small.

The warm-up for the gig was a DJ, Paul Oakenfeld. His set consisted of both familiar or unfamiliar songs, some of them mangled to the brink of recognition. The biggest cheers were received for Darude’s Sandstorm, a nod to the finnish top selling tune from 1999.

Inbetween the DJ and the main event was an odd break, it took twenty-odd minutes to get the background music rolling again after mr. Oakenfeld exited the stage.

Madonna played for almost two hours. The exquisite show went mostly unseen, the distance from the stage and a couple of tall people parked in front took care of visibility. The screens helped to some extent, but for a lot of time it was rather hard to figure out what was really going on.

This was the tour to support the Hard Candy album, and the song selection reflected this. Eight songs out of twenty were off the new record, a fact that constrained the amount of classics in the set. And of the ones that got played quite a few were remixed harshly. Like A Prayer was played in pristine form and got the loudest reception from the audience.

Big M

The set list was as follows (copied from media, didn’t recognize half of the songs):

Candy Shop
Beat Goes On
Human Nature
Die Another Day
Into The Groove
Dress You Up
Shes Not Me
Devil Wouldnt Recognize You
Spanish Lesson
Miles Away
La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute
Doli Doli
You Must Love Me
Get Stupid
4 Minutes
Like A Prayer
Ray Of Light
Give It 2 Me

Even though the environment ended up being rather suboptimal for visibility, there was nothing wrong with the organization of the event. Especially when compared to the events on Stalag Kirjurinluoto, the whole concert went very smoothly.

Pictures to follow. Not that they’re much good, considering the distance.

Madonna on screen

Jul 262009

Sonisphere logoSpent saturday in Pori, attending the Sonisphere festival, featuring Metallica as the headliner of the day.

The festival’s inauspicious circumstances had been shown in the finnish mainstream media already. The departure / sacking of Anthrax’s fourth vocalist topping the list. The lack of organizers’ experience was given as a potential threat to smooth sailing. And the lack of availability of a schedule pointed rather steadily towards a mismanaged occasion.

Took a later train than the “official festival train”, and arrived when Lamb of God was finishing their set.

The queue in was reasonably fast, only twenty-odd minutes in a rapidly moving line. Contradicting earlier guidance about water and soda being allowed in, the security check eliminated all corks in the bottles, pretty much guaranteeing that folks brought in just one bottle. The numerous bottle collectors obviously had a field day with the readily available scraps from attendees. Strike one.

The total lack of any scheduling hadn’t improved during the last few days. No schedules were posted anywhere. According to a rumour the schedules were for sale at the shirt vendors booths, at five euros a pop. That’s not really the way to treat paying customers. Strike two.

Browsed the area during Diablo‘s set, and wandered to the main stage just when Machine Head started. They played loud, excruciatingly loud. So loud that I figured it’s high time to replace my old earplugs on account of the volume. Thus, due to the shopping expedition, missed the on-stage collapse of their guitarist (who is OK, again according to rumors).

Turisas replaced Anthrax on a moment’s notice, and played a tight thirty minutes on the second stage. No new songs off the forthcoming third album.

Didn’t take notes, but this is a semblance of their set:

To Holmgard and Beyond
Dnieper Rapids
One More
Battle Metal

Linkin Park on stageLinkin Park was the highlight of the day. The nu-metallers put on an excellent show, with songs piled upon each other mercilessly. All the hits from the three albums were covered, and plenty of additional material. A very tight eighty minutes that finished off with a high note when in the end was followed on with much harsher songs as the capstone.

Didn’t take down a set list here either, but the band’s web page is very helpful in providing one:

Given Up
From The Inside
Somewhere I Belong
No More Sorrow
Lying From You
Points Of Authority
What I've Done
Leave Out All The Rest
Breaking The Habit
Shadow Of The Day
In The End
Bleed It Out
New Divide
One Step Closer

Saxon was the penultimate band in the lineup. Gave them a couple of songs, but came away disappointed. Ultimately the band is Iron Maiden, with all the good bits (catchy songs, charisma) removed. Epitome of mediocrity, nothing more, nothing less. Saxon’s set list was as follows (nabbed from Imperiumi’s forum):

Heavy Metal Thunder
Demon Sweeney Todd
Motorcycle Man
Witchfinder General
Let Me Feel Your Power
Wheels Of Steel
Live To Rock
747 (Strangers In The Night)
Denim & Leather
Princess Of The Night
And The Bands Played On

James HetfieldMetallica played two hours. Pretty much a greatest hits gig, with a couple of songs from Death Magnetic surgically embedded. The only real surprises were the omission of For Whom The Bell Tolls and the choices of the two songs in the encore. Stone Cold Crazy was a pleasant one, and one out of necessity, since the gig had to finish by eleven pm.

Metallica’s setlist:

Creeping Death
Harvester of Sorrow
Fade to Black
Broken, Beat and Scarred
Sad But True
All Nightmare Long
Day That Never Comes
Master of Puppets
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Stone Cold Crazy
Seek & Destroy

Sonisphere crowdThe exit from the area was by far the worst experience of the day. The rear exit near the main stage turned out to be taken out from use, without any real guidance on the maps or anywhere else. Just a single self-important member of the security squad bellowing into a bullhorn, repeating the same message over and over. The chaos reigned for good twenty minutes, with people climbing over fences in the area only to come to a complete halt later on. According to rumor (who were plentiful indeed), the rear exit was closed to ensure speedy departure for the bands – a throughly uncommunicated act that ended up wrecking the good mood after the gigs and doubtless ensuring that people on municipal traffic missed their connections to trains and boats. Strike three, and a severe warning for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The forecast rains didn’t really materialize – a shower rained down for some fifteen minutes earlier, and a medium drizzle happened during Metallica’s show. Other than that the weather was close to perfection, not too cold and definitely not too hot either. Sun showed itself a couple of times, and shone for a while during Linkin Park.

T-shirts were both expensive and restricted only to Metallica and the festival itself, couldn’t find other bands’ shirts at all. The gig-specific shirt was nice, but at thirty euros something that was easily dismissed. The highest priced shirts clocked in at 45 euros apiece.

The area resembled a war zone – there were just a couple of trashcans for sixty thousand people, and thus the ground was completely littered with debris. Took the precaution of packing lunch (an act that was on the organizers’ “banned”-list up until the last minute) – the offerings from the stands seemed to be very much in the line of defrosted junk accompanied with chicken bits. Bony chicken bits, which increased the trash load. The queues to purchase food were long and seemed to be very slow, and with stands running out of supplies way earlier than the actual show ended, a testament to bad planning, once again. And considering the number of attendees, the toilet capacity seemed to be woefully inadequate. Strike four.

Summing up, the bands on stage were good and the lineup rather impressive, but the organization sucked big time. The first order of the day in any mass happening is communication, and that was completely missing here. The large screens next to the main stage were not used for any useful purpose outside the actual gigs – they would have been a perfect way to provide information to the attendees.

Amongst the 60000 attendees was a surprising amount of people who had no idea how to behave. This does not mean the few pitters, but the guys and girls who obliviously walked onto large crushes of people and expected to walk through. A couple of fights and a couple of passed out guests is probably below the norm at an average festival, but having got used to the jolly atmosphere of Tuska, especially the former was quite a surprise.

And while I do realize that Activsion’s Guitar Hero-franchise was a big sponsor, the thing got out of hand with a lot of valuable stage time given to kids who play fake guitars instead of letting the likes of Turisas. And the less said about the eager beaver MC, the better.

EDIT: Fixed some language, added notes about tourists and guitar hero. And added the Saxon set list.

Jul 042009

Spent last saturday in the annual Tuska festival in Kaisaniemi.

Skipped the first few bands on account of laziness. The first band, Gama Bomb from Ireland, did sound interesting, but their tribute-ish thrash was not enough of an incentive to show up among the first.

The first band seen was Dauntless, a local death/thrash-band. Heard the final few bars of the set, not enough to convince one way or the other.

The first band seen properly was Sabaton, heavily military-influenced power metal band from Sweden. They turned out to be the most audience-grabbing of the whole day’s offerings. Despite the vocalist’s awful t-shirt (metal-plated dark green) Sabaton put on a good show, definitely worth further investigation.

Skipped quite a few of the follow-up acts on account of a surprise. Jon Oliva’s Pain played a lot of old Savatage, and was hence quite interesting, but hunger overwhelmed me instead.

Couldn’t get close enough to Korpiklaani to hear properly. The tent was packed tight, and I wasn’t really looking forward to close quarters encounters within.

This year’s festival was the second time I saw Amorphis, and once again it was raining. Fortunately not nearly as bad as last year. The set had quite a bit of songs from the band’s new album, but also old classics. Tomi Joutsen’s vocals continued to impress, as did his quite voluminous hair.

Skipped Pestilence and Firewind for no particular reason, and concentrated on the day’s headliner: Suicidal Tendencies. They turned out in odd form. At times they played their songs as if nothing had happened since early nineties when they were composed, at times the band was reduced to minimal background noise behind Mike Muir’s ranting monologues. As a whole I was quite disappointed in the performance – it had its great moments, but also a lot of time that could have been put to far better use.

Here’s the festival in a randomly chosen array of facts and numbers:

  • New bands interesting enough to investigate further: 0 (was aware of Sabaton and Jon Oliva’s Pain before).
  • Friends spotted: 3.
  • Truly drunken people spotted: 1 (no intersection with the previous group).
  • Friends missed: allegedly at least two. Several more if facebook updates are to be believed.
  • Appreciation for spontaneous picnics: serious.
  • Time spent in the official beer consumption area: 0 minutes (was not willing to deposit my backpack in an unsupervised area).
  • Back next year?: Maybe.

The crowd was surprisingly light, and according to official hearsay none of the three days were sold out this year. Which sadly confirms the lack of star attraction in the lineup.

No photos on account of the recent “memory card getting wiped”-incident.

Jun 152009

Saw Metallica for the tenth time yesterday.

Their “World Magnetic” tour brings them to Finland twice, for a grand total of three gigs. Two now and the Sonisphere day in late July.

The promoter had screwed up the official schedule, and the warm-up bands played in reverse order.

Caught just the tail end of Mastodon‘s set, and came away with the discovery that occasionally the mix is just too terrible for words. Lamb of God, on the other hand, put up a nice show. Hadn’t seen the band before, the very Pantera-esque thrash was good enough to consider picking up a recent record of theirs.

Lamb of God

Metallica took the stage a couple of minutes after nine and concentrated on the new album’s songs, six pieces off Death Magnetic was one third of the entire concert. Quite a bit of he rest was spent on obligatory classics, but fortunately there was room enough for the more rare and raw segment as well. Fight Fire With Fire was played with unexpected amount of energy, and Turn the Page brought forth the most melodious moments. Seek & Destroy was once again the last song of the set. This time it was played with the house lights on, under big black balloons cascading from the rafters.

Metallica Pyrotechnics were used in appropriate songs, a new arrival in the stagecraft was the use of lasers – multicolored beams and fans swept the stage during a couple of songs. The stage that was not at the either end of the rink, but at the very center – meaning that every seat in the house was filled indeed. Apart from Lars Ulrich the rest of the band circled the stage, allowing closer quarter access to all the fans.

The band played effortlessly, and the two hours and change drifted by without awkward glimpses at the clock. The interaction with the audience was quite a bit on the cheesy side – Metallica has evolved from being a quartet of angry young men into patriarchs of the family.

Set list:

That Was Just Your Life
The End Of The Line
For Whom The Bell Tolls
No Remorse
Broken, Beat & Scarred
Sad But True
Turn The Page
All Nightmare Long
The Day That Never Comes
Master Of Puppets
Fight Fire With Fire
Nothing Else Matters
Enter Sandman
Trapped Under Ice
Seek & Destroy

Unsurprisingly, no songs off St. Anger – confirming that it was a misfire. One song each off Master of Puppets and Justice, which meant that the two first albums got more airtime than expected. Two cover songs, neither exactly overplayed on previous tours.

T-shirts were quite a bit on the expensive side at 30€, and this time there was no venue-specific shirt offered. They sold like hotcakes, as expected, even though the designs were not that great.

Seek & Destroy

Jun 072009

BlackfootThe summer of southern rock (begun with the 1-2 punch of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet a couple of weeks ago) continued with yet another blast from the past – Blackfoot played a gig in Tavastia on Friday.

The band is without their original guitarist/vocalist, Rickey Medlocke, who’s part of the Lynyrd Skynyrd lineup these days. Thus the frontman was a different one from all the records, but Bobby Barth put on a good show in Medlocke’s stead.

And a good show it indeed was, unlike the rather strained Molly Hatchet, the Blackfoot felt at home on stage. Thirty-plus years of playing together showed, and the newer recruits had been integrated as well.

The set list was mostly pulled off the classic albums from late seventies/early eighties. One new song was played – Sunshine Again, dedicated to Jakson Spires, the drummer who suddenly passed away in 2005. Another song, Born to Lose, was announced to be “from 1986, and unrecorded thus far”. In the absence of a keyboard player on stage Teenage Idol never materialized.

Set list (haven’t got all the albums, so some songs went unrecognized):

Good Morning
Wishing Well
Morning Dew
I Got a Line on You
(unrecognized blues medley)
Baby Blue
Great Spirit? (unknown, sung by Greg instead of Bobby)
Fox Chase
Left Turn on a Red Light
Sunshine Again?
Born to Lose?
Fly Away
Highway Song
Train, train

I got in just as the band took to the stage. Tavastia was in its constrained configuration (no upstairs, no back bar), so the audience was pretty much packed in. As with the Skynyrd gig, the audience was predominantly male, though this time the biker-look was not as prevalent as it was at the Hartwall arena.

Didn’t see any shirts or records for sale. Too bad, would definitely have purchased a faux ’76-vintage t-shirt.

That’s the end of the southern rock summer, unless the likes of Black Oak Arkansas and Charlie Daniels Band all of a sudden announce massive scandinavian tours.

May 222009

Back in the late eighties I was a bona fide speed metal freak. Unless it was metal, and pretty fast-paced metal at that, I wasn’t much interested.

Lame. Very lame.

Thankfully my single-sided diet came to an end due to an introduction of a rather remote genre: southern rock dragged me out of the tightly closed box.

I never looked back. These days it’s not the genre that matters, but the quality. A statement that ought to be applied to all other things as well, not just music.

Lynyrd Skynyrd on stage in HelsinkiThat was a long introduction to Thursday’s concert. But a necessary one. The duo of bands from Jacksonville, Florida – Lynyrd Skynyrd and Molly Hatchet – were the ones that I got attracted to first.

I hadn’t seen either band before. Molly Hatchet has been to Finland once before – they played a gig in Kaivohuone in the early nineties. Back then I was a poor student and stupidly chose to spend the price of the cheap ticket otherwise. Lynyrd Skynyrd has been in Finland multiple times – thus far I’ve always been away or otherwise had an alibi not to see them.

Molly Hatchet took to the stage pretty much at eight o’clock sharp, and played just over an hour. The band looked both old and changed. There are several members of the classic lineup still in the band, but at least the vocalist and the drummer were brand new. The sound was shaky – the vocals were almost drowned out at times. However, that didn’t prevent the band from putting up an excellent selection of classics. Highlight was the inclusion of the half-acoustic Fall of the Peacemakers, one of the songs that still, good two decades later, sends shivers up my spine.

Set list was as follows (serious omissions due to not recognizing songs on account of never having heard them or not recognizing them on stage):

Whiskey Man
Gator Country
Down from the Mountain
Fall of the Peacemakers
Son of the South
Beatin' the Odds
The Journey
Dreams I'll Never See
Flirtin' with Disaster

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s God & Guns World Tour concentrated on the essential songs – no post-reunion songs were included on the set. Gary Rossington is the only remaining member of the original lineup. Though Rickey Medlocke, famous from Blackfoot, did play in the band during its formative years. Thus the stage was pretty much filled with replacement guys – Johnny van Zant obviously is as close to the original vocalist as you can get. While the audience had been lukewarm with Molly Hatchet, Skynyrd pulled out the stops in getting the spectators involved.

The band played for ninety-ish minutes, with quite an obvious song selection. Some were strung together as a medley, but for the most part, the songs were played to the full extent. There were many highlights: I’ve always been partial to their debut album, and that was more than adequately featured. Also, Down South Juking, originally released on a post-crash collection brought up a big smile. The concert was capped with the obvious encore: Free Bird.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s set list:

Workin' for MCA
I Ain't the One
Saturday Night Special
Gimme Back My Bullets
What's Your Name
That Smell
Simple Man
Whiskey Rock-a-roller/Down South Juking/The Needle and the Spoon/Double Trouble
Tuesday's Gone
Gimme Three Steps
Call Me the Breeze
Sweet Home Alabama
Free Bird

A fine start for the summer indeed. Next up: Blackfoot, yet another southern rock band, in early June.

EDIT: Added the unrecognized Molly Hatchet songs, courtesy of Jeps.

May 032009

LotR symphony logoSpent Saturday evening in Tampere, enjoying an orchestral version of Howard Shore‘s composition to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The concert was one of the three in Finland – all given in Tamperetalo.

The show was sold out, saw one empty seat in the house.

The symphony is an abbreviation of the full score, but included many familiar elements from the saga. Especially the main theme was brought forward from the nether reaches of memory.

Tamperetalo arrangements for Lord of the Rings SymphonyThe large orchestra was accompanied by a large choir and a couple of soloists. Of whom the boy soprano executed himself truly well in the couple of pieces in the first book.

Another accompaniment was the inclusion of images (from the familiar artists Alan Lee and John Howe) on the backing screen. The maps, and illustrations were an excellent lead into the songs.

The soundtrack was as powerful as I remembered. Alternating between impressively crescendoing pieces and gentler songs was a great way to recall moments from Peter Jackson’s movies. The fading of Into the West was illustrated with a simple coal drawing of the tail of an elven ship – bringing to mind the melancholy ending in the Grey Havens at the very end of the Return of the King.

The audience thanked the musicians profusely – the applause took more than five minutes to subside at the end.

According to the handout-program, a book about the music, called The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films will be published in the fall. Doug Adams, its author, unsurprisingly has a blog where the topic is handled. The triplet of of concerts in Tampere is already covered, with plenty of reviews written in the comments to the original entry.

It’s definitely time to re-watch the films. The extended versions, of course. But first: Hunt for Gollum, the amateur-powered prequel released today.

Apr 262009

Saw Callisto in Tavastia on Thursday night. This was the first gig I’ve seen, and based on the entertainment value, will occasionally show up for future shows as well.

The warm-up band, Joose Keskitalo ja Kolmas Maailmanpalo, was an odd combination of apocalyptic lyrics, a large number of instruments, and angry blues. The thirty-odd minutes on stage were entertaining to say the least. But probably not enough to seek out the singer-songwriter’s albums.

Callisto played for a little over an hour and had minimalist interaction with the audience (a single “thank you” was all that was heard). I’d heard only their newest album Providence, and was positively impressed with the gig. Musically the combination of Sigur Rós-like dramatics and metallic growls is an odd one, but worthy of attention.

Shirts-wise the gig was on the uninteresting-side, but the chance to pick up the two early Callisto albums certainly did not go wasted.