MYÖTÄTUULIROCK Vantaa, Finland, 16-17.6.2007
This strangely titled Finnish festival celebrated it's eleventh year with a completely Finnish band line-up, featuring Machine Men, Ensiferum, Blake, Kotipelto, Mokoma, Leverage, Maj Karma, Poisonblack, Kotiteollisuus, Carmen Gray, Peer Günt, Private Line, Agnes, Bleak, Von Hertzen Brothers, Timo Rautiainen, Apulanta and Negative. Such a colourful festival offered something for everyone, but if only a certain type of music interested you, there was a long wait between bands.
MTR has gone through a nice facelift from last year, although it's still a fairly small festival. The area can hold a large number of music fans, and now has two stages, V-Stage and The Voice stage. Situated close to camping areas, activities and Helsinki, it's easy to come here and stay the night either in a tent or a hotel.
SATURDAY, 16 June
Machine Men, Ensiferum and Blake were the first bands to open the festival. There wasn't much people during the first hours, but by the time KOTIPELTO took the stage at four o'clock, the crowd had doubled and being a Finnish festival after all, spirits were flowing. Still Kotipelto couldn't lift the mood as well as he usually can, so this crowd wasn't easy. The band began their set with the familiar western intro by Ennio Morricone, and set off with "Seeds Of Sorrow". The small stage wasn't easy for bands, and throughout the festival the sounds weren't the best. When Kotipelto got into their second song "Lord Of Eternity", the crowd started warming up. Little by little hands started coming up and people began singing along. Kotipelto seemed a little bit tired, but as always his performance was professional.
Familiar from earlier Kotipelto shows, the band once again featured Robert Engstrand from The Flower Kings on keys. Lauri Porra of course got his bass solo spot and the solo was familiar from their earlier shows, being crazy, brilliant and very passionate all at the same time. The guy sure loves playing his instrument and it's a joy to watch him enjoy doing that. During the show Porra's shirt went off as usual, and it was a hot weather through the whole festival, even when it was raining. Timo Kotipelto himself also wondered about that. Mirka Rantanen drummed away a powerful solo too, and guitarist Tuomas Wäinölä is still one of the finest guitarists in Finland, so the line-up couldn't be better.
Setlist included: Seeds Of Sorrow, Lord Of Eternity, Once Upon A Time, Sleep Well, City Of Mysteries, drum solo, Coldness Of My Mind, Take Me Away, bass solo, Travel Through Time, Serenity, Reasons
While we were wandering around, MOKOMA filled the stage area well. Their music is very popular among metalheads in Finland, being very heavy with lyrics that strike out well. The band is very lively on stage and a pleasure to watch, but we had to grab something to eat and were anxiously waiting to see LEVERAGE, our favourite melodic progressive metal band, which is fronted by Pekka Ansio Heino from Brother Firetribe. The day had turned into early evening hours when they took the stage, so the mood was much better by now compared to the Kotipelto show, and being in Finland in June means the sun was still gonna shine for hours! That is a great mood lifter, but seing Heino on stage also works that way, there's a frontman who keeps collecting praises. Even those who don't know his bands and see him the first time on stage are amazed. There's always a certain confidence and joy shining out of him, and doing his thing on stage is captivating, the crowd goes along to whatever he's asking from them.
There was something strange happening with the band tonight from the earlier shows I've witnessed from them. They seemed more livelier, their bassist Pekka Lampinen seemed to be on a good mood, lifting his bass up above his head and moshing away, while drummer Valtteri Revonkorpi stood up behind his set to see the crowd better, and guitarists Torsti Spoof and Tuomas Heikkinen fired away great melodies with their talents. They always do such inspiring guitar work. The mike didn't work all too well for Leverage, so Heino suffered from that occasionally. Before playing their new track "Stormchild", which can be heard on their second album released early next year, Heino had to assure the crowd not to go grab a beer at this point. Wonder what he meant with that, I'm sure at least true Leverage fans were anxious to hear a new song! Eventhough Leverage has progressive patterns making their music more complex from the average hard rock, they are very melodic and have astonishingl y catchy hooks. That's why we love 'em in RockUnited. This band is very professional and can probably rock out any tune.
Setlist: Marching To War, Superstition, Stormchild, Follow Down That River, drum solo, Stranger, Twilight Symphony, Dreamworld, Fifteen Years
POISONBLACK was on ironic mood, or more so their singer/guitarist Ville Laihiala, who had been drinking a bit, and said they've come to spoil people's festival mood. Well, this wasn't Poisonblack's best gigs, since Laihiala seemed a bit lazy on stage and was even singing off-key. He realized that himself and funnily pointed it out to the crowd and in the end of the set thanked the crowd for everything. He was still the same old Laihiala, you either laughed at his comments or didn't just get them. The stage was so filled with smoke through their show, that it was hard sometimes to see the guys who were in a good party mood no matter what, and eventhough everything didn't go as planned, people did enjoy their set and the front of the stage was filled with goth girls singing and dancing along to each song.
Setlist included: Pohjolan Pidot-intro (Junnu Vainio), Raivotar, The Darkest Lie, Nothing Else Remains, Love Infernal, The Living Dead
If you can handle Finnish lyrics and manly attitude with straight heavy riffs, then KOTITEOLLISUUS, the last band on Saturday, might be your thing. This band is really entertaining in the sense, that their singer Jouni Hynynen has a manner of pouring his soul to the crowd, which means rough manly speaks and black humour, among other things. If you can handle that and of course understand the language, you'll enjoy them for sure. The show took off with a comment from Hynynen concerning the place they were playing in, belittleling it humorously and saying its people were ugly, but for him it was a working combination! This band hails from the Southern part of Carelia, and their gig's intro "Karjalaisten Laulu" ("the song of Carelians") is a good kick off for them. The shows from Kotiteollisuus have a way of grabbing their crowd to a tight squeeze, but with such powerfully pounding music and the other entertainment that comes with it usually has a way of doing that. Some Finn ish actors were also among the crowd enjoying whatever was about to happen on stage. With these guys, their gigs are adventures.
SUNDAY, 17 June
Sunday was a treat for teenage girls, and the day took off with one of the bands appealing to them, CARMEN GRAY. Their singer Nicklas could be the twin brother of Jyrki from The 69 Eyes, the gothic metal band. With the same type of style and the voice girls are bound to love him. When the band started playing around 12.30 o'clock there wasn't too much crowd yet, and Sunday seemed a bit calmer in all ways. Carmen Gray's show kicked off with technical difficulties, so Nicklas threw in a few jokes, even in English, since there wasn't much else to do. When they got to their first song the crowd sang already along, although pretty weakly. Getting to the second song, Nicklas asked if they'd start rocking now, and the mood got better and better as minutes flew by. The band has a good rock attitude and their guitarist Lappe must be a little bit possessed by Elvis. The band also performed acoustically with "Lying With You", which sounded good, and the rest of the show rocked even more.
Setlist included: Karate Kid-intro, Pieces Of My Broken Heart, She Won’t Miss You, Just Like Me, Unbeloved (Me & Suzy), Going Wrong, Looking For Love, My Mistake, Lying With You (acoustic), A Thing About Love, Honey Child, Sacrifice, Colorful (The Verve Pipe cover), Lost In My Mind Again
There were a few bands on Sunday that weren't that appealing to teenagers, and PEER GÜNT was one of them, working mostly for people around their forties. This band has been around for three decades and plays rock'n'roll spiced with testosterone showers. Since the Sunday crowd wasn't for them, there weren't too many people watching them, which was a shame since this band can perform and their music works best live. The stage filled with too much smoke once in a while, but when you did see the band, they were doing their thing 100 percent, singer Timo Nikki roaring away with his raspy voice and the newest additions, drummer Sauli Koivula drumming heavily, accompanied with their bassist Petri Pohjanniemi standing with his legs wide open with a tough look to match his rock attitude. Their set included hit after hit, and like all the first bands, they played for one hour, and once again used the time well giving a tight set for the crowd.
Setlist included: Wake Me Up, Crazy Wild One, Bartender, Motorcycle Women, Losin' My Mind, Wanna Shake Your Boomboom, She Was Here For Rock'n'Roll, Years On The Road, Backseat, I Don't Wanna Be A Rock'n'Roll Star
The next band is popular among younger and older rockers, although the host of the festival made the crowd scream them on stage with teenage phrases. Glam hard rockers PRIVATE LINE has one of the best ballads from this century, "Forever And A Day", very Bon Jovi- like, which wasn't heard live though, but a few other slower tracks instead. These guys are also those few great Finnish rockers, who are right at home on stage and go through their show with amazing rush. Their singer Sammy Aaltonen climbed on top of one of the monitors, then took an acoustic guitar to play a ballad from their second album, and pointed out before doing "Evel Knievel Factor", that all this ain't so serious. Finns can be quite stiff sometimes, and considering it was Sunday and next day work for some, those might've taken the best spark off the festival mood. Still, Sammy kept on going and spitting drinks to the air above him and rocked hard and sturdy with the band.
Setlist included: Uniform, 1-800-Out-Of-Nowhere, Prozac Nation, Already Dead, The SINdicate, Evel Knievel Factor, Cheerleaders & Dopedealers, Broken Promised Land
Female rock attitude was also seen in the festival. Finnish Idols competitor and recording artist AGNES (originating from Poland) was up next, and Finns love her joyful and lively attitude. It also shows in her performance, and even while messing with things on stage she doesn't make a biggie out of it, but rushes onward with the show and even bursts out laughing at herself. Unfortunately her band didn't have the best sounds and seemed they were lacking the biggest kick, so live the songs weren't as dynamic as heard on the album. While Private Line was playing the clouds started gathering to the area and by the time Agnes started, it was raining a bit. Seemed like everything was against the band today, but Agnes joked with the guitarist about it and thought they'd give us a little bit of sunshine. The most brightest moments of the set must've been "Tallulah", "Danger In Love" and "Heartache", since the crowd was clapping along more than before, even with all the earlier attempts from Agnes asking them to clap along.
Agnes can sometimes amaze with her speaches, and being most of all a rocker at heart, it's no wonder she can suddenly burp out a few inconvenient rough words for festivals like these, such as mentioning the word "ass" up there. If you're not into language like this, maybe earplugs are handy while she's doing speaches, although it isn't all that bad as it may sound here. The band played two covers, which were Ozzy Osbourne's "Mama I'm Coming Home" and Agnes' fave band Sonata Arctica's "Tallulah", which she sang in Idols too. It seemed like she poured most of her emotion to this song and sang it better than the rest. Later she thanked Tony Kakko for writing the song, and I must agree with her, Kakko is one of the best metal songwriters in Finland. While rocking out Agnes even went among the crowd a few times, and the first row fans were very pleased to see her up close. The set ended to "Danger In Love" and afterwards Agnes encouraged everyone to "rock on!".
Setlist: Bleed, Closed The Gates, When The Night Falls, Mama I'm Coming Home (Ozzy Osbourne cover), Evil Empire, Heartache, Ghost In My Heart, I Thought We Were Lovers, Tallulah (Sonata Arctica cover), Danger In Love
BLEAK was another band aimed to please teenagers and very different from the similarly named Blake, who played here the day before. Bleak brought out a more softer side from rockers, their music is more lighter than most bands who played here, and their singer Caleb had some sentimental moments. The band rocked well and the whole show seemed very smooth. The guys had put effort on their outfits like most of the bands in MTR, and during the show Caleb's hat went off, as well as their bassist Zeta's sunglasses, but no further "striptease" was seen, how unfortunate for the girls. The show was very vivid and the band very popular, so Bleak was probably worth the wait for many fans.
Setlist included: Stains, What You Are, Crossword, Burns Inside, Modual, Silvertigo, Good Girl, , Play, Fate
An older crowd's favourite VON HERTZEN BROTHERS was the last band we checked out, although the most popular bands were still ahead, Timo Rautiainen, Apulanta and Negative. By now the rain had stopped and the crowd got to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere this band offered peacefully. There's a certain conflict in these bros' ( Kie/Guitars, vocals, Mikko/Vocals, Guitars, Jonne/Bass, Vocals) music mixing many styles, where hippie melodies go hand in hand with jazz and progressive influences to mention just a few genres, but the arrangements work well. The bands drummer is Mikko Kaakkuriniemi, who's also earlier drummed for Kotipelto, and now had to play something very different, something that is more closer to his style of playing. His drumkit showed a side profile of his face, which was funny, and the band was quite entertaining otherwise too. They were another band to suffer from technical problems, so their second song had to be cut off in the beginning, but soon they continued and started the song again. Their keyboardist Kim Rantala was a refreshing sight on stage, a true mood lifter. Even as the crowd mostly consisted of younger fans, these bro's show turned out to be quite popular.
The rest of the bands played something very different again, strong riffs with Finnish lyrics from Timo Rautiainen, punk rock influences from Apulanta with more Finnish lyrics and finally Negative, a good cream on the top ending for the festival. Wonder how next years line-up will look, but hopefully it will have more sense to it with at least schedules with similar bands. This year mostly filled with waiting to catch the melodic acts.
Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com
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