The first and hopefully not the last Rockin’ Kaarina event was organized this summer at Hovirinta, Kaarina. Another festival called Saaristo Open has been taking place in the same place for a few years so the venue is ”tried and tested”, so to speak. It’s a nice location by the sea and rather easy to reach by car or public transportation. Well, easy to reach… apparently the organizers were maybe a bit too sure about that, since there were hardly any signs pointing to the festival’s direction. Some of our friends who were not ”locals” had trouble finding the place. The limited parking space was filled quite fast too, which meant that the ones who didn’t get a place in the designated area had to be a little bit creative. The Police (not the band) could have had a field day issuing parking tickets to the cars parked too ”creatively”.
When the first press release about Rockin’ Kaarina was issued, there was talk about ”more acts to be confirmed”. In the end, the four acts initially revealed were the only ones to perform and that blurb about ”more acts” disappeared from the later press releases. So it was more like a rock afternoon rather than a big rock festival.
PEER GÜNT opened the festival. This Finnish has been around since the mid-seventies but rose to fame during the late eighties, after winning ”Finnish Rock Champions” title and a record deal in 1984. The power trio is known for their straight-forward, no frills hard rock and have been compared to the likes of Motörhead.
As we were among the ones who had challenges in finding a place to park, we missed a few of the first Peer Günt tracks, not to mention the opportunity to take photos of them. Back in the day Peer Günt were known as a ferocious live act, but the the times have changed and PG 2016 was a different beast altogether. As the band is a power trio the big stage looked really big for them, especially because guitarist/singer Timo Nikki and bassist Pete Pohjanniemi didn’t really move that much.
I can’t say I was too familiar with their songs, apart from the balladic ”Years On The Road” and their two biggest 80’ies hits ”I Don’t Wanna Be A Rock’n Roll Star” and ”Backseat”. The rest of the songs I heard were fairly basic boogie rock tracks that didn’t appeal to me at all. The two big hits were saved to the end of the set, and once Nikki played the familiar riffs of those tracks, it seemed like both the band and the crowd came alive.
The Swedish melodic hard rockers ECLIPSE were the next band, and I was hoping for a similar reaction that they got at last years’ South Park festival. There the band made a lot of new friends and mesmerized a tent full of people with their energetic show. To an extent that happened at Kaarina too, but it didn’t start that great.
The band started with ”I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry”, one of the best tracks of the last few years, but something wasn’t right. I can’t really determine what it was, maybe a delay of some milliseconds that made it sound a bit ”off”… anyway, the show was interrupted after the song because Magnus Henriksson’s guitar sound just vanished. A moment or two the band had that ”deer in the headlights” look, but they quickly got the problem sorted out and moved on.
This was the third time we’ve seen Eclipse in the last 15 months, and they haven’t changed their setlist too much during that time. Compared to the last time we saw them (Rockingham, Oct. 2015), the setlist in Kaarina was almost identical, with only the W.E.T. song ”One Love” dropped and the band’s Eurovision attempt ”Runaways” added. Of course it’s a case of ”why change a winning formula”. For at least 99,9 % of the crowd this was their first Eclipse encounter so there was no reason to mess around with the setlist. Anyway, Erik Mårtensson took advantage of the catwalk and the stage, bouncing all over the place and trying hard to connect with the crowd. His efforts were rewarded nicely, maybe it wasn’t the kind of a overwhelming victory as their gig at South Park last year but I’m sure they made a few new fans. Oh yeah, almost forgot… this was the Finnish debut of the new drummer Philip Crusner. According to Erik, he was the ”prettiest drummer we could find”… Okay, I don’t know about that but he was good and entertaining, that much I can tell you.
Norwegian ”traveling vocalist” JORN LANDE has sung in Masterplan, Vagabond, Yngwie Malmsteen, Allen/Lande and countless others. In Kaarina he was with his own band, simply called JORN. Even though the band just recently released a cover album, they played mostly their own material. Only two covers were performed, ”The Mob Rules” and ”Rainbow In The Dark”, both originally sung by one Ronnie James Dio and only the latter from the new ”Heavy Rock Radio” album. ”Rainbow” sounded good but rather stripped without the keys. Although I rate Lande highly as a singer, I have to admit that the two covers were the only songs I knew from his set. I’ve heard a few of JORN albums and no songs from those were played, they concentrated on their more recent material I believe.
The JORN songs were all rather classic sounding heavy rock songs, taking cues from Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Dio… but lacking the hooks and memorability that would turn them into actual classics. Some of the interesting covers from the latest albums would have added variety to the set, I was hoping to hear at least ”I Know There's Something Going On” and maybe a Masterplan song, but that didn’t happen.
Jorn’s band featured former U.D.O. guitarist Igor Gianola in a temporary role, if I understood correctly, Thomas Bekkevold on bass and Christian Svendsen on drums. Jorn himself was in good spirits, sang wonderfully and in a talkative mood. There was a strange contrast between this happy and smiling personality and the menacing Norwegian elf-like figure he turned into when singing!
SETLIST (not complete though):
”SCORPIONS - the band that just won’t go away.” That could be an ”ironic” headline in a trendy magazine, and there’s some (or a lot of) truth in it. They’ve played their farewell tours and recorded their final studio albums quite a few years ago, yet here they are, still touring and putting out new music! Not that I’m complaining, they’re still a good live band and their latest album ”Return To Forever” wasn’t too bad.
The Scorps’ stage was an impressive one, with ramps, a catwalk and video screens put to good use. Starting with ”Going Out With a Bang” from the latest album, the band presented us a diverse set. There were a couple of other songs from ”Return To Forever” but also a medley of 70’ies stuff. A good share of the songs were from the eighties albums, the ”golden era” of the Scorpions. Looking at the setlist one might think that the band went on a hiatus after 1990 as there were no songs from 1991 to 2015…
The band was in good shape, especially guitarist Rudolf Schenker was a rather lively performer. Vocalist Klaus Meine seemed to be a bit under the weather or something though. His voice soared beautifully during the choruses and higher parts but some of the verses he sang were a bit… I guess ”sloppy” would be the right word for it. Still, he’s no spring chicken anymore and to deliver what he did wouldn’t be easy for a singer half his age.
There was a bit of a buzz about the band’s stand-in drummer Mikkey Dee, who most hard rock fans know as the drummer of Motörhead. Not the choice one would first think of to replace James Kottak, but having now seen him in action, I can only applaud the band for hiring him. He was solid as a rock and fun to watch, like a grey-haired hurricane behind his kit! And yeah, despite his previous job, he can do a good job with power ballads as well!
My three favourite songs of the gig: ”We Built This House”, ”Big City Nights” and ”Rock You Like A Hurricane”.
Still Loving You