A couple of years ago Club Teatria in Oulu was the location of the first "Legends Of Rock" concert with Alice Cooper and two Finnish bands, Zero Nine and Riff Raff. Last saturday it was time for more Legends Of Rock, with mostly international acts. The headliner of the show was Canadian band HELIX, with TNT (Norway) and TREAT (Sweden) also on the bill. Whether any of these bands are "Legends Of Rock" can be debated, but at least in my world they are. Each one of them has albums or songs that I consider cornerstones of my music collection.
Opening the show was GHOST MACHINERY, a local band with two albums under their belt. They haven't been around long enough to be "legendary", but that doesn't mean that they weren't good. Their set of melodic metal was delivered professionally and I think they made a few new fans thanks to their strong melodies and powerful performance. They suffered of some sound problems, at times the guitar of Pete Ahonen was buried deep in the mix and some of his solos were almost inaudible. Vocalist Taage Laiho had a bit of a microphone breakdown during one of the songs, but like the seasoned pro he is, he just took over Pete's mike and didn't skip a line.
The highlight of the set for me was "Blood From Stone", the band's super-catchy anthem with a terrific chorus and killer keyboards. The keys could've been a bit more upfront on this track, but still it sounded excellent. And talking of keyboards, the "iceman" award goes to Ghost Machinery's keyboard player whose name I didn't catch. The guy was like a statue, one couldn't really see his hands moving behind the stack of keyboards. Strange, but kinda cool, like having The Terminator in the band!
SETLIST: Face Of Evil
Face Of Evil
Ever since I purchased a vinyl copy of "The Pleasure Principle" a few years ago (okay, in 1986!), I've been a fan of TREAT. They disbanded during the early nineties, and for years it seemed that they were dead and buried. In 2006 they regrouped and released a compilation album with two new killer tracks, promising good things. Last year they fullfilled that promise and released "Coup De Grace", an album that was just as good as their eighties' classics. Hell, I even gave it a "10 out of 10" rating! As you might guess from this lengthy intro, I was very much looking forward to seeing the band live for the first time...
High expectations are a dangerous thing, but to say that they were met would be an understatement. Treat played a truly awesome set that will go down in my personal concert history as one of the best sets of all time. I kid you not, they absolutely knocked me out with their endless assault of super-hooks. They played and sang really well and the sound was spot on, they had a lot of contact with the audience and in general kept us entertained. Robert Ernlund was in fine shape vocally and proved to be an excellent "Master Of Ceremony", and both Nalle Påhlsson (bass) and Anders Wikström (guitar) moved around a lot yet their playing was flawless to these ears. Keyboard player Patrick Applegren was stuck behind his keyboards as keyboardists usually are, but he filled his role excellently, providing that extra melodic edge to the songs, not to mention his backing vocals. Then there was Jamie Borger... watching his playing was really fun, as he constantly twirled his sticks, threw them up in the air and did all kinds of tricks. I did notice that one of the "tricks" didn't go as planned and the drumstick slipped out of his hand, but effortlessly he replaced the stick without missing a beat! Very cool indeed.
It all comes down to the songs, and Treat have more than their fair share of killer tracks, old AND new. "Paper Tiger", "Skies Of Mongolia" and "We Own The Night" sounded just as good as the old favourites like "Sole Survivor" and "World Of Promises". The medley was a clever thing to play, combining a few of their slightly less essential tracks into one. "Get You On The Run" has to be mentioned, because it got the kind of "hit" reception normally reserved for major hits. And why not, if there was any justice in this world this song would be mentioned alongside "Livin' On A Prayer" or "The Final Countdown" as one of the genre's biggest hits.
The fact that they only had about 60 minutes was the only negative thing about their set, something they obviously had no control over. Because of the limited time, Treat classics such as "I Burn For You", "Fallen Angel" or "Take Me On Your Wings" were not played. There's a silver lining even to that dark cloud - the band left us hungry for more, and now I understand that the wheels are in motion to get them back to Finland soon.
Every now and then I tried to be "a serious investigating journalist" instead of a fan, and looked around to see the reactions of the audience. I don't know how well I succeeded in that, but I would have to say that Treat had the biggest crowd and the biggest response. They certainly seemed quite pleased with the crowd, and were happy to mingle with people after the show.
The War Is Over
Skies Of Mongolia
TNT had a bit of a challenge to follow up the monster set of Treat, and I have to say that they were a bit of a disappointment. First of all, they had a rather unbalanced sound, with Ronni Le Tekro's guitar dominating terribly. Sure, he's a truly great guitarist but it wasn't nice to listen his guitar suffocating everything else. Secondly, it was clearly an "off-night" for Tony Mills. His stage presence wasn't really convincing, it seemed like he wasn't totally focused. He did wander around the stage and tried to get the crowd going, but somehow I felt that he was going through the motions. A shame really, because he's probably one of the few singers who could do these songs justice, and at times there were glimpses of brilliance in his performance.
Things did improve as the show progressed. Tekro's solo was rather entertaining, and the band had saved all the "big ones" to the end. "Tonight I'm Falling", "10.000 Lovers (In One)", "Everyone's A Star", "Intuition" and "Seven Seas"... the quality of these classic TNT songs defeated all obstacles and allowed the band to leave the stage as winners.
Everyone's A Star
I was looking forward to seeing HELIX, Canadian hard rock veterans who've been around since the mid-seventies. I quite liked them back in the day, but haven't really followed their career after the "Back For Another Taste" album. Having done my homework I know now that vocalist Brian Vollmer has kept the name alive for the last twenty years or so, and last year they kind of "regrouped" in the most well-known line-up, with the expection of guitarist Paul Hackman, who died in a tragic car accident in 1992. Kaleb Duck is the band's second guitarist in the current line-up.
Having interviewed Vollmer a few hours earlier, I knew what to expect - plenty of vintage Helix hits and some tracks from the band's latest two releases of new material, "Vagabond Bones" album and "Skin In The Game" 5-track EP. What I didn't expect was to see a band so full of energy! Helix may have been around for close to 40 years, but they can still show the twenty-something young pretenders of today how to put on a good hard rock show. Brian Vollmer is a frontman of the highest calibre, still out-singing most of the singers in the genre while doing "high voltage kicks" at the same time, and the rest of the band knows a thing or two about showmanship as well.
The band played a long set (see the list below), and while there were a few regrettable omissions (No "You Keep Me Rockin"? No "Dream On"? No "Without You"? No "Breakdown"?), most of the band's major hits were played. Out of the newer tracks, my favourite was probably "Make 'Em Dance" - a "Na Na Na" chorus is always a crowdpleaser. Still, the greatest moments of the gig for me were the classics "Deep Cuts The Knife" and "Rock You". There really isn't a catchier "crowd participation" track than "Rock You" with the immortal "Gimme an R!" shout-along section.
The band used some taped keyboards for at least "Good To The Last Drop", which I found rather unnecessary. The album version of the song without the synths would have been just fine... still, this late addition to the setlist was much appreciated, at least by the RockUnited.Com staff present!
All in all I was positively surprised about the gig. Personally, I would've liked to hear some of those more melodic, catchy tracks mentioned above instead of the rather average rockers like "When The Hammer Falls" or "Billy Oxygen", But that's just me, the Helix diehards seemed to enjoy every song.... Anyway, Helix definitely belongs to the list of "eighties' rockers who can still cut it". One more time, with feeling - Gimme an "R"!
Wild In The Streets
Review by Kimmo Toivonen