Pakkahuone, Tampere 10 February 2018
First it was the 2015 Midwinter Firefest. Then last year we had Brother Firetribe, One Desire and Blockbuster playing together around Easter. This year there was Rockin’ Scandinavia, a new event that took place at Pakkahuone. Yeah, it’s becoming a tradition to spend some rockin’ quality time in Tampere during winter time, and I don’t mind that at all! Now that Rockin’ Scandinavia was a success, I hope that this tradition continues for many years. Melodic Rock might not be the flavour of the month, but the good ticket sales of these event prove that there is demand for it. And there are plenty of fine bands in Scandinavia in this genre, even though I don’t think that Rockin’ Scandinavia is a concept that sticks to only Scando-rockers. I’d be happy if RS expanded into a bigger festival-type of a thing at the same location, Pakkahuone is a very nice venue and there are plenty of hotels nearby.
Strangely the opener of the day was Brother Firetribe, who are most likely the biggest of these bands here in Finland. This didn’t bother anyone I guess, it only meant that just about everyone who was attending this gig was there from the very start, and every band had a decent crowd.
I did some calculating and it appears that this was my 12th BFT gig and the fifth time during ”Sunbound”-tour! Since the band’s setlist hasn’t changed much on this tour there weren’t many elements of surprise, but as always, BFT gigs are entertaining and fun. The band seemed relaxed and happy on this last gig of the tour. Vocalist Pekka Heino said that this would be their last gig for a while, but we shouldn’t have to worry, they’re working on new songs - ”yeah, we’ve got two new songs and they’re both crap”… Pekka threw in some other rather good deadpan one-liners too - ”I put on a tie for this special event - yeah, we’ll surely make a funeral out of this” was another good one.
Just like every gig I’ve seen on this tour, the set started with the new album’s intro and opener ”Help Is On The Way”, followed by the video song ”Indelible Heroes” and the band’s first single ”One Single Breath”. ”Heart Of The Matter” is apparently one of the band’s favourites but Istill haven’t been won over by it, it’s a bit too pedestrian for me. Same goes for ”Shock”, it’s athmospheric and cool but I just like uptempo songs more. Fortunately the second half of the set was full of them - including ”Runaways”, the sing-along anthem ”I’m On Fire” (check out my video clip from Instagram - rockunited.com.photos) and ”Heart Full Of Fire”. The intro of ”I’m On Fire” featured some really strange keyboard sounds, but it was only a bit of unintentional comedy added to the show. As usual, the anthemic ”I Am Rock” was the last track and the Rockin’ Scandinavia crowd sang along beautifully.
To sum it up, not the most memorable BFT gig I’ve seen but a good one… and a good BFT gig is always better than 9 out of 10 other gigs.
As it happens, it was this same location where I witnessed the very first One Desire gig last year. Now with quite a lot of experience under their belt, we saw a band that was confident on stage. Even some technical hiccups were dealt with fine professionalism.
Last time around vocalist Andre Linman suffered of a throat infection but this time he was in good health, and his performance was much better. What's more, he really took command of the stage. Not being a native Finnish speaker his in-between song banter was somewhat clumsy, but that has become his trademark. He certainly doesn't take himself too seriously.
Just like the last time, the band took the stage with all guns blazing - using their biggest hit "Hurt" as the opener. An interesting strategy, but while some have questioned it, I thought it worked okay. The band has plenty of other fine songs too, and each one of them got a good reception. I thought it was hilarious when Linman introduced several songs as being "one from our first album", as if they had more than one... and as if they all weren't from it.
Special moments of the set were the acoustic version of "Falling Apart", "Turn Back Time", the mega-ballad "This Is Where The Heartbreak Begins" and "Whenever I'm Dreaming", during which Linman's guitar transmitter died and we got a new, light-weight version of the song. I've got to hand it to him - he didn't miss a single vocal line even though the guitar problems were distracting him.
"Buried Alive", the heaviest song of the album isn't a favourite of mine, yet it worked great live. A good way to end the set and pave the way to the last band of the night. Apparently the band has already started working on their second album and reliable sources say that there's some exceptional material in the works. With a handful of new hits to add to the setlist, this band is going to be a real contender.
Although there were no headliners as such, ECLIPSE came, saw and conquered. And they had the biggest backdrop and the longest set. More importantly, they started with such a rush of energy that there was no need to question whether they deserved to be the "headliners". If there were people who had only come to see the Finnish bands, I'm pretty sure that most of them were converted during Eclipse's Power Hour (and a half). Like a true preacher man, Erik Mårtensson used every inch of the stage, while his wingmen, both named Magnus (Ulfstedt and Henriksson), mostly stuck to their battle stations and tried to stay out of the whirlwind's way. The latest addition to the band, drummer Philip Crusner was another whirlwind behind his kit, playing with a lot of showmanship.
"Vertigo", "Bleed And Scream", "The Storm" and "Wake Me Up" hardly gave the crowd any time to breathe. The first breather came in the form of "Hell's Bells", the band slowed down and played the riff for a while. "The best part of the day is the soundcheck, when we can play just AC/DC riffs for an hour", explained Eric. "Because AC/DC is the best band ever!"
The second "Hurt" of the day was another breather among the hi-energy tracks. It's an intense balladic track but definitely not a love song. It was followed by a drum solo, and a pretty entertaining one it was indeed. The acoustic section with "Killing Me" and "Battlegrounds" was nice, and while some have complained about it, I didn't think it really killed the vibe. The instrumental/guitar solo a while later was more of a buzzkill.
If the beginning of the set was like a tornado, so was the ending, with "I Don't Wanna Say I'm Sorry", "Never Look Back" and their Eurovision song, the second "Runaways" of the day. Energy, hooks, riffs... couldn't really ask for anything more!
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
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