Tavastia, Helsinki, May 8th, 2007

Tavastia celebrated a Norwegian evening in May, as the tour of Norwegian fronted bands Kamelot and Leaves' Eyes arrived there on Tuesday. Both bands played for the first time in Finland, and that information might've lead you to believe Tavastia was surely gonna be sold out. But then again it was Tuesday, and bands don't sell that well in the middle of the week here, and both of these bands aren't exactly the hottest groups in Finland. But Tavastia was packed before Leaves' Eyes even took the stage, so needless to say it was pleasing they didn't have to play to half crowd like so many other metal bands during the working days.

LEAVES' EYES is fronted by ex-Theatre Of Tragedy singer Liv Kristine, who's also released solo albums with her ethereal voice. In Leaves' Eyes recent album, "Vinland Saga", the band deals with Norwegian folklore, and the show in Tavastia was mostly based on that album. The lightshow backed the albums story quite well, and the gig kicked off with the intro "Vinland Saga", creating a vast atmosphere in Tavastia in green lights with Liv's vocals joining in from the tape at this point. The stage wasn't as big for the support band as for Kamelot, which is typical practice, so there wasn't much room for the band to move in, as the drums took most of the space, be it electric drums like Leaves' Eyes have. Show wise Leaves' Eyes is one of those bands, that would need more space than provided here, but they did fine with what they had.

As the intro ended, "Farewell Proud Men" brought the band storming in on stage, like imitating the songs spirit dealing about the raging oceans. The sirenlike singing in the back was enchanting, and as Liv started singing, the crowd knew immediately what the deal was with the band, if they didn't know that already. The first song didn't yet inspire the crowd to start raving, maybe Liv's fragile vocals were still too new for some ears, but as her husband, Atrocity-vocalist Alexander Krull took the stage doing his additional vocals with "Ocean's Away", the clubs mood took another turn. The modest crowd was now whistling and screaming loudly to Alexander, who was very honoured by the attention. Leaves' Eyes is actually pure Atrocity (Thorsten Bauer and Mathias Röderer-guitars, Christian Lukhaup-bass and Moritz Neuner-drums) except Liv herself, and since Atrocity is ranked high among metalheads, this was for sure one of the reasons why the crowd went so nuts as the final membe r of Atrocity took the stage. No Atrocity songs were heard in this set though, and the crowd did warm up to the pure Leaves' Eyes songs as well, the most popular being the video tracks of course, "Into Your Light", "Elegy" and as Alexander introduced it, "a song from the album Vinland Saga, or should I say Finland Saga", meaning "Legend Land".

While especially Alexander moshes away with his inherent aggressive style, his really long hair not getting stuck anywhere, and Lukhaup slapping the bass like a funk band member and the rest playing with a more modest style, Liv Kristine's performance is much more elegant, sweet and ladylike. She's from a different world compared to the guys raging behind her, but these differences complete each other, making a dynamic show. Liv likes to wave hands to the crowd and dance smoothly in her blue dress like a surging ocean, and the crowd easily falls into trance while watching her soothing moves and listening to her angelic voice. You're soon awakened from the trance though, as Alexander once again starts growling like a monster. By now you should've realized the dimensions in this band. Alexander only performed in a few songs, leaving space for some mellower tunes. The band shot some material for their forthcoming DVD in this show, and anytime the cameras were visible, the cro wd was fully participating the show. What grew the excitement even more was the bands announcement they'll be meeting the fans aftershow in the club and signing stuff. Leaves' Eyes was blessed with unexceptionally good sounds, so earplugs were almost useless. One thing that got criticism though was the electric drums used by Moritz Neuner. Although being very handy on small stages, the sound doesn't compensate to those of real drums. I didn't let that ruin the show though like some did, but enjoyed the show and small talk from Alexander; "I really like this place, HELLsinki!". Yep, we live in Hell, but it's a HELLuva fun hell, where metal rules like in no other place on earth.

Setlist: Vinland Saga (intro), Farewell Proud Men, Ocean's Way, The Crossing, Into Your Light, New Found Land, Norwegian Lovesong, Temptation, Solemn Sea, Legend Land, Elegy

Having seen many shows from KAMELOT I rested assured Kamelot's first show in Finland was gonna be a bag of the same ol'; dynamic show with great hooks and performance. Sure enough the band didn't let anyone down this time either and Finns got a chance to hear their first songs off their forthcoming June release "Ghost Opera". The new album cover was also seen on stage as the backdrop. An intro gently started the evening and then it was pure power from thereon, as "When The Lights Are Down" and "Soul Society" blasted into the air. The band was overwhelmed by the huge welcome from their Finnish fans, who were very noisy and energetic already from the beginning of the show till the end. Singer Roy Khan couldn't stop smiling. The commotion surprised most people at the show, this was least expected from a Tuesday night. After these two songs off their "The Black Halo" album, the first new song was introduced. "Mourning Star" calmed the sweaty crowd down a little for a closer listen, although the song itself is no moody ballad, but rocks like all Kamelot songs.

After that wonder it was time to rock the crowd again. "Center Of The Universe" is a magical song, that always does the trick. Some Finnish curse words were heard from the band here, but only as a joke. These stunts are pretty ordinary from bands here, they know Finns go nuts over them. Not all nations take such language as a compliment, but here you get away quite clean if you accidentally burst out cursing. Two more older songs came again, "Descent Of The Archangel" and "Abandoned", accompanied with falling snow filling the club. Here the band first reduced to three members; drummer Casey Grillo, Khan and keyboardist Oliver Palotai, with the backing vocalist, then continuing with the full band. Then Kamelot introduced an usual solo session from the band, where Grillo did a tight drum solo.

"The Human Stain", another new track, took off after the solo parts. The song introduces a different side from Kamelot, but it was still warmly welcomed. Khan has a way of dramatizing the songs, and once again he was seen kneeling down a few times during the show and expressing each tracks emotion through hand movements. The rest of the band didn't move as much, although all the members do put their soul into playing. This is easily seen on the face of guitarist Thomas Youngblood, who shows typical guitarists facial expressions and moves. Palotai, the newest addition in the band, also brings a lot of energy to the show by swaying on his keys like putting out fire. Grillo seemed more serious this time than ever, and mostly seemed concentrated on his playing, which was very powerful and precise, and so was bassplayer Glenn Barry's performance. After "Memento Mori" it was time for a keyboard solo. Palotai, who's been with the band for many shows now, played something different from the usual treat, doing some classical bits that are his territory, and of course giving a few smiles to the crowd through those usual bits of cover songs.

The beautiful keyboard solo soon turned into "The Haunting", and the band had a surprise treat for the fans; Simone Simons from Epica was on tour with the band and came suddenly out of nowhere singing her vocal parts like on the album. The duet between Khan and Simons was beautiful and perfect. Finns already fell in love with Simons, when she performed in the Tuska festival here in 2006. "Forever" closed powerfully and dramatically the first set from this romanticizing band, and the crowd lived fully along in this melodical piece, giving their all and screaming for the band here.

"Will you be there waiting by the gates of dawn, when I close my eyes forever"...

...just can't stop singing that chorus! Typically afterwards the band bowed to their fans and did the usual farewell gestures here, but everyone knew they'd still come back and do at least "March Of Mephisto", one of their most powerful tracks. And surely it didn't take long when they were back on stage, but the first encore introduced the title track "Ghost Opera" off their new album instead, and the violin parts in the beginning were played by Anne-Catrin Märzke. The crowd mostly concentrated in listening, but by the second chorus some were already fans of the song and singing along. The band definately gets their adrenalin flowing from performing the new tracks, but since the album isn't out yet, no bigger enthusiasm about it can be seen in the shows.

The next track I was really hoping to hear was "Wander", as the band hinted on playing something slower, but instead they played their Japanese bonus track "Epilogue", which they've been doing in other European countries for years already. Finns seemed to like the track, but I still think "Wander" is much more emotional and spiritual. Beautiful performance from the band anyhow and Khan's vocals were in good condition. "Karma" ended the second part as powerfully as "Forever" did the first part, and this track is also a fave among Kamelot fans. Beautiful vocalwork and guitar melodies, very spiritual all in all. Unlike in a usual Kamelot show, no pyros were seen in Tavastia, since they're forbidden in the club. But that didn't spoil the mood at all, it was high in the rooftop through the show. Again the band bowed and left after long handshakes and greets with the crowd in the end, and this time people weren't too sure the band would enter the stage anymore, although the noise levels were still amazingly high.

There aren't many bands that would still continue entertaining their fans in early morning hours, but Kamelot still performed the much anticipated "March Of Mephisto". Unlike Simons, Dimmu Borgir's Shagrath wasn't seen in Helsinki doing his parts here, so Youngblood got to do grunts for him, and he's convincing enough with them. A fine closure for the evening, and the band left Helsinki satisfied, giving promises of returning here again. All in all the band put a lot of effort into the show and it was very dramatical and worth every penny. Next up for them was Tampere, and some fans from this show travelled there too. The Kamelot fans don't have to leave the show empty handed either. The band has come up with a nice extra for this tour, handing out free promo cd's aftershow for the concert goers of the song "Ghost Opera". A nice gesture and good promotion. If you don't need the cd, promote your favourite band and pass the cd on to a potential future Kamelot fan. Not a dumb idea at all. And would you believe if I told you, but Kamelot still does most of the band management. These guys really deserve your respect with their input. Thanks for the amazing shows, Kamelot and Leaves' Eyes, and thanks to the record labels and tour crews who helped with everything.

Setlist: Intro, When The Lights Are Down, Soul Society, Mourning Star, Center Of The Universe, Descent Of The Archangel, Abandoned, Instrumental jam + drum solo, The Human Stain, Memento Mori, Keyboard solo, The Haunting (Somewhere In Time), Forever, encore: Ghost Opera, Epilogue, Karma, encore 2: March Of Mephisto

Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com
Pictures by Kari Helenius, carda [at] metalphotos.com

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