Helsinki, Tavastia Club
For some reason Finland has for the past years continued recycling bands already seen here far too many times. Maybe it's a follow-up trend to the plague from the 80's, when same bands toured here till no one was the least interested anymore. One of the bands that has now visited Finland often in a short period of time is Kamelot, their last show here was just 3rd of August in Ankkarock festival, marking the fifth Finnish show in over a year (six, if you count their little show after Ankkarock in Henry's Pub with Lauri Porra), but you can't deny they've kept building a following here, which is nice for a fan like myself, and I'm actually glad seing them here so often. Still, there's so many bands in this vast world of ours to be found, and when Kamelot once again made their trip over to our metal land, Finns finally also got a taste of something new. The supports came from Spanish Forever Slave and Firewind. I've been dying to see these Greeks live for ages, one of the reasons being their talented guitar God Gus G.
There's new rules in the Tavastia venue nowadays, and most music fans are happy Finland is taking the European approach to organizing gigs. When in the past there were a few vague hours of sleep between the show and work from the late start of shows, now Finns can enjoy their nightly dreams, as Tavastia decided starting their events during the weeks as early as eight p.m. It was nice to notice the change come alive, as FOREVER SLAVE kicked off the event on time. Being still unknown in Finland they gained little response from the crowd that was only in full Tavastia capacity just before Kamelot started. I had to agree with the rest of the crowd, these gothsters with their beautiful female singer Lady Angellyca, who put on some performance, didn't bring nothing new on the rock map. Their gothic rock show was so plain, that I can't recall much from it, neither a single song. But I'm sure they attracted at least someone, and judging by their newest album clips in the net they do have good songs and Lady Angellyca sounds beautiful. Maybe this just wasn't their night.
FIREWIND started in time too. Eventhough Firewind has fans in Finland, they haven't yet reached the level of respect here that Kamelot has, so I was sure they weren't gonna get that big of a welcome from the crowd. But I was surprised, and gladly so. The crowd did participate, it just took a while to get them warmed up, and eventhough some technical mishaps spoiled the mood for starters, as with Kamelot, most enjoyed Firewind and why not, the band was quite professional live. They had little room to perform in, but were nevertheless excited to finally play here and it showed in everything they did.
Having a guitarwiz like Gus G in the band would normally put the other guys in the shadows, but Firewind coped well with it, each of the guys seemed like stars on stage. Stars, that we're easily reachable by crowd. Firewind was very warm and friendly both on and off stage. Still I was mostly curious to see Gus live, him being once part of Dream Evil too, and wasn't disappointed. He, along with his bandmates, played well and showed there's even more to them what was expected. Eventhough Gus didn't play any real solo spots, the band entertained their fans with a reggae goof part with crowd shouts, Finnish cursing and switching instruments, so the night was more about fun than virtuosity. If I had to choose, I'd much rather choose fun instead of virtuosity, which seems like a lame way to entertain nowadays, although occasionally someone still amazes with a great musical piece. When that happens, the musician plays it from the heart, not by coldly showing off his talents.
Vocalist Apollo Papathanasio (ex-Majestic, Time Requiem) wasn't to all tastes this evening. Although a bit clumsy on speaches, he was most importantly present throughout the show and stood as a powerful frontman, delivering his vocals in the same manner. What the crowd moreso responded to was the rest of the bunch, Gus G, Mark Cross (drums, ex-Helloween, ex-Metalium), Petros Christo (bass, ex-Breaking Silence) and Bob Katsionis (keys, guitar). While Apollo got loud responses to his scream pleas for the crowd, it was more the musical talents and stage presence of Gus and Bob that attracted, among Mark's tight drumming. Bob made a remarkable first performance in Finnish soil, playing beautiful keyboard parts and beating the hell out of them and himself.
The Firewind songs are made for live performance, but even as powerful as Firewind stood on the Tavastia stage this evening, they still have roads to travel for hit potential. Watching the band grow materialwise through each album, they still haven't done their masterpiece. Those Finns who were virgins to Firewind songs responded only to the songs too easy to predict such reaction to. It's the songs with the most powerful choruses, one of them being "Falling To Pieces". One of my favourites with that sort of chorus that wasn't played is "Breaking The Silence", with female vocalist Tara. With only a handful of hits in the set and other hits left out, Firewind might've been a bigger winner this evening with a slight set adjustment. Still I was pleased alright, surely from familiarizing the set, unlike so many other metal fans. In the end Firewind were entertaining. With the words they finished their set with, I say kiitos and kippis. Hope to see more Firewind in Finland in the future.
Setlist: Into The Fire, Insanity, Mercenary Man, Head Up High, band introduction, Circle Of Life, reggae part, Destination Forever, Falling To Pieces, Between Heaven And Hell, I Am The Anger
Having said I wanna see more Firewind in Finland, I hope they don't end up in the recycling bin, where KAMELOT has been pushed into. Not too many bands and fans can handle the continuous visits, but for Kamelot the visibility has payed off. If I've done my counts right, the Tavastia show was their fourth one in Finland, but the reception was as tremendous as ever. The crowd noise levels were amazing from the start inspiring the band, but it didn't take long to notice the usual Kamelot spirit wasn't there this evening. The guys were all smiles and very impressed by the enourmous welcome cheers, but the show itself seemed a bit flat. Bassist Glenn Barry wasn't present this night, his duties did Sean Tibbetts (Royal Anguish), who also plays guitar, but not in this show. Wondering if this was the fault to the flat show, there were no signs of it. Kamelot performed as if this was the actual line-up, and Tibbetts has played with Kamelot before. You can most likely blame the tight touring schedule they've recently done, it must've taken it's toll. But even if they couldn't deliver their best, everyone still enjoyed them a lot.
If it is the schedules that have wiped smiles off their faces it's a shame really. Kamelot has always been a band to count on with an uplifting spirit in their show. Nothing like those thousands of dark metal bands, who think acting like an a-hole is still so cool. Hopefully Kamelot finds their spirit again, it was so strange not seing any smile coming from Casey Grillo either during the show. In the end of the show they all seemed happy though. This time around there were no surprise guests in the show, so the part of Simone Simmons was sung by Anne-Catrin, who wasn't the exact replacement for Simmons, but did fine. Guitarist Thomas Youngblood acted as Shagrath in "March Of Mephisto", and he could've done better, but of course he wasn't born blackmetal in his veins.
The show had a heavier side to it this time around. Hitting it off with the violin start and doing their routine as normal, they after a few songs did a really heavy instrumental part, followed by a drum solo from Casey, then continuing the grinding. Maybe it was thought of as a great intro to one of their newest songs, "Human Stain", which is heavy itself already, but I still prefer the more melodic side of the band, and so also seemed to think the crowd. Kamelot's most atmospheric, melodic and most traditional rock pieces like "Forever", "Center Of The Universe", "When The Lights Are Down", "The Haunting" and "Abandoned" were among faves, and their heavier songs like "March Of Mephisto" still remain faves as well. The newest songs are still a mystery to fans, but those who knew them sang them out loud. Roy Khan had a small catwalk, so he could come closer to the fans, but as Tavastia isn't too big anyways, the band was close to the crowd all the time. Apart from the drum solo already seen, Oliver Palotai played a keyboard solo as usual with classical influences. It's a treat to listen to him, pouring his soul to the music that he plays so smoothly. He actually commented before the solo, and it's rare to hear him speak, mentioning that he became a keyboardist so he didn't have to speak.
The solo was followed by "Forever" with a singalong part, and Tavastia was surely noisier tonight than on Kamelot's first visit here. "Feels good to be back" was the bands comment, and they thanked, kept a break and soon came back for the encore, continuing with "Ghost Opera". The mood stayed dark and mystical, the soundlevels were too noisy, but Tavastia is known from loud events, must be some sort of spell there that makes mixers overdo it. The first encore was very powerful. The screams after they finished again showed no signs of stopping, and after a while the second encore started with shouts "get ready to rumble!". Tavastia filled with smoke and "March Of Mephisto" ended the show that was powerful and mystical, yet not the Kamelot I've witnessed live so many times before. Most fans experienced a concert of a lifetime though, and I was satisfied too, and happy for Kamelot's growing success here. Let's just hope they won't burn their wings under pressure.
Setlist: Intro (Solitaire), Rule The World, When The Lights Are Down, Soul Society, The Pendulous Fall, Center Of The Universe, Abandoned, Descent Of The Archangel, instrumental jam w/drum solo in between, The Human Stain, The Haunting (Somewhere In Time), EdenEcho, keyboard solo, Forever, encore: Ghost Opera, Love You To Death, Karma, second encore: March Of Mephisto