Brother Firetribe / Widescreen Mode
BFT's recent winter tour didn't reach Turku for some reason. That almost criminal neglect of us southwest folks was righted last week, when Pekka Ansio Heino and his merry men brought their show to Klubi.
Our team of investigators arrived to the scene a bit early, because we weren't sure when the support act Widescreen Mode were about to start. It turned out that they started at the latter of the two "showtimes" announced. Maybe better for them, because there was maybe a dozen people in the place when we arrived. We were entertained with music over the PA system, and I guess it was someone's idea of a joke (or a punishment) to play "The Best Of Obituary" or whatever it was for an audience who had come to see a melodic rock band!
The support act Widescreen Mode could've had a REAL bad night and their first few songs would've still been a relief after the "wwwwoaaaaargh" session we were subjected to. Sure enough, they were much more enjoyable than the in-house music, but I have to say that I was disappointed. During the few days before the gig I did my "homework" and checked out their first album, and it wasn't bad at all. Unfortunately, the band's recently released second album marked a change in the direction, and since most of the songs were from it, they didn't have much to offer for me. Apparently on the new album the band has re-discovered their passion for thrash metal, as the new songs bare very little resemblance to their older material. It was all attitude and metallic riffs, but ultimately rather forgettable. Their first hit "Everlasting Bomb" stood out as a really catchy song, and the latest single "Serotonin" was too bad either, but the rest of them... I can't say a lot about them. Okay, "We Don't Need Your War" has some very Dokken-like guitar parts ("Kiss Of Death" maybe?) and "The Robots" seemed to go on and on... like... a robot?
Vocalist Samu Brusila tried his best to interact with the audience, but his attempts were met merely with polite applause. I'm sure that this particular set would've pleased the crowd in Tuska Festival for instance, but I doubt that they made a lot of new fans in Turku.
As the showtime of the headliners came closer, the club started to fill up. In the end, the Firetribers attracted a respectably sized crowd, considering that the gig was a mid-week one. The aforementioned background music continued during the change-over, and unsurprisingly, the dancefloor remained empty. After what seemed like an hour or two thanks to the harddeathcoremetal disco, the band walked to the stage and kicked the machine into gear.
The set was opened with a trio of songs from the latest album "Heart Full Of Fire", including my favourite "Wildest Dreams". I think it got the best response out of them, but I may be biased... "One Single Breath" was the band's first single, and it'll probably be a staple in their set for years to come. A great song, and it got the "hit response" it deserved.
The closest thing to a ballad we got was "Play It From The Heart", the rather excellent midtempo track from the new album. It was followed by Pekka's quip of "Alright, let's play some good music for once" and their brilliant cover of Mike Reno's "Chasing The Angels". Just like every song in the set, it got a great reception, which prompted Pekka to wonder whether they should play covers only. No, he wasn't serious.
"Breakout" became a big sing-along number thanks to the rather simple chorus hook, while "I'm On Fire" was "enhanced" with a prop, a flashing police light. "Heart Full Of Fire" ended the main set, and Anette Olzon didn't make a cameo appearance this time. I'm not sure but I do think that I heard an echo of her voice though... must've been the "magic box" which added some elements to the songs, additional backing vocals and sound effects.
As encores, we were treated to "Valerie", an "oldie" from the debut and naturally the hymn-like "I Am Rock", a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and a hit. Then it was over, way too soon really -I would've happily listened to them play their whole catalogue of songs.
A few words about the band: Pekka Heino is a great frontman and a fine vocalist, and it seems that he's loving every minute of it on stage. His down-to-earth personality shines through, and interestingly enough, that's what makes him a star. Guitarist Emppu Vuorinen continues to amaze me with his skills and the way he makes it all look so easy. Bassist Jason Flinck has a strong stage presence as well, and his vocals are a big part of the band's sound too. Keyboard player Tomppa Nikulainen may be a bit in the shadows in live setting, but the band's sound relies on his keyboard work and songwriting, so he's an intergral part of the band. Providing the "heartbeat" of the band is drummer Kalle Torniainen, a much-in-demand powerhouse drummer, who threw in a few extra-furious fills.
All in all, a terrific gig that was a non-stop flow of hit after hit. Because of the other obligations of the band members, BFT might remain a "chained monster", which is a shame. They really should be playing to bigger audiences by now, and I'm sure that their irrestistable energy would win over any festival crowd. As much as I like Nightwish... maybe they could take a break next summer and let Emppu and the guys unleash this monster? Now how about that?
Review by Kimmo Toivonen, kimmo [at] rockunited.com