Once again, Ruisrock took place in the beautiful surroundings of Ruissalo. This year the organizers hadn't booked any superstars, but they were confident that the line-up of mid-league foreign acts and most of the big Finnish bands would be enough to assure a good turnout. They were right, over 70.000 tickets were sold, which was a good 5000 more than they estimated. It seems that Ruisrock itself is a brand that brings in the people these days, not necessarily the bands. And for what it's worth, every day there was probably at least a band or two worth checking out for every rock fan.

Porcupine Tree

The audience seemed to be very anxious to see Porcupine Tree (PT) on stage. Even though the band's existence goes back as far as some 20 years, only their latest album "The Fear Of A Blank Planet" from the last year made the band known in Finland too. The new album is said to be a bit heavier than their elder production but no way I would call it heavy metal, more or less prog rock with a flavour of this and that.

I had my doubts about the band 'cause Black Planet is not really my cup of tea, and I have to be honest, their live performance did not create any better image of the band for me. They were undeniably playing very well. The band members seemed to be concentrating on playing their instruments very intensively. Unfortunately they did not offer any visual satisfaction to the audience, more or less they seemed to be like glued on their spots, hardly any movement or passion to be seen. If someone was expecting to experince an energetic or lively show, his expectations were not rewarded. Every time when the beat got a bit heavier the audience started to warm up and clap their hands (like during the song "Anesthetize") but most of the time people were just standing there on the ground, kind of trying to decide wheather they like what they heard and saw or not.

Occasionally the vocalist Steven Wilson's voice was covered by the instruments but in general he did a good job. Steven also showed his multitalents by playing guitar and even keys for a while. Porcupine Tree is quartet but they have been using an additional touring vocalist/guitarist on their tour. John Wesley was a great addition to the tour line up.

Some weird film was running on the big screen during their show. I guess the film was supposed to be a visual substitute to something that was missing from their show. I did not care about those psychedelic pictures, hopefully someone else did. The band's lyrics are pretty up-to-date, describing the craziness and difficulties of people.

Concert line-up

Steven Wilson (vocals, guitars)
Richard Barbieri (keys)
Colin Edwin (bass)
Gavin Harrison (drums)
+ John Wesley (add vocalist/guitarist)

Porcupine Tree was playing songs from their latest album, but also some older material was played.

Set list (not 100 % right)

Blackest Eyes
The Sound of Muzak
Open Car
Even Less
Mother and Child Divided
Way Out of Here

Sonata Arctica

It always makes me glad to see that a band is having a great time on stage. Sonata Arctica belongs to the aforementioned bands. SA started their show with a bit better intro than at Sauna Open Air a month ago. It was not as annoying this time. When seeing the band for the second time within a month I did not get much from this gig. Their setlist was pretty close to the one we heard at Sauna. If someone was hoping to hear "Tallulah", he was disappointed. I wouldn't have minded to hear "My Land" either. If I compare the behaviour of the audience during SA's and PT's shows, it was like day and night. It's understandable, as Sonata Arctica has earned their place in the hearts of the Finnish metal fans during the last few years...


The sound was good. The audience was able to witness an energetic and good-spirited show, lead by Tony Kakko. He and the other guys were running around the stage every now and then. The gig was not anything special, but a solid show anyway.

Unfortunately I could not stay till the end of the show, because I had to be ready for Nightwish. I was not the only one who made this decision. Masses of people started to roll towards the stage of Nightwish trying to grab decent watching/standing places.

Set list (not 100 % right):

In Black And White
Paid In Full
Kingdom For A Heart
It Won´t Fade
Black Sheep
Don't Say A Word
The Cage
The Vodka Song

Band line-up

Tommy Portimo (drums)
Elias Viljanen (guitars)
Tony Kakko (vocals/keys)
Marko Paasikoski (bass)
Henrik Klingenberg (keys)



When the nice and hot Friday night turned to Saturday, it was time to wish good night, along with Nightwish. A long and steamy day was about to get a grand finale. Nightwish was without any doubts the most expected band on the first day of Ruisrock. Some die hard fans had arrived to front row immediately after the festival gates were opened. I guess many festival visitors were as curious as I was to see a new front lady on stage. I had quite high expectations, 'cause I have to say that I never cared that much about the "opera vibe" on Tarja's voice. I do not only find Anette's voice extremely listener friendly but also very suitable for a band like Nightwish. Anette is a talented vocalist with a very pleasant voice that has enough roughness. On top of that she is also very desired co-singer on many other band's albums as well.

The show started strongly with "Bye Bye Beautiful", followed by "Dark Chest Of Wonders". Already in the first song the crowd was able to hear that Nightwish has two great singers. Marco Hietala interpreted "The Islander" quite elegantly. Their great co-operation was reflected in "The Siren" and "BBB". The songs from Dark Passion Play were all well received, even the marathon song "The Poet And The Pendulum". The set list was a nice mixture of songs from Dark Passion Play and their older hits. Unfortunately the show ended too soon. I was expecting to hear two encore songs but nope, they only performed "Wish I Had An Angel". This was the only song in which I felt that Anette did not quite reach Tarja's interpretation.

Tuomas Holopainen is really a fantastic song writer. Nightwish members have such a huge talent and experience that it makes the playing sound so easy. At the point where I was standing the sound was very good. The pyro effects and lightning made the show extremely audience friendly.

The crowd was able to witness cheerful joking between Marco and Anette. Anette showed that she has learned a bit of Finnish too. The band was really in a great mood. Anette was looking fresh with her dress. I hate the discussion about how a metal vocalist should be dressed up. I think Anette's dress was a perfect choice for a summer festival. Some people may think that when a metal band vocalist is not wearing a black outfit or leather there is a lack in credibility, but I can't understand that. At least I consider Anette to be very natural, without diva-like behaviour or faking.

Unfortunately a huge amount of people in the crowd were really plastered, which lowered the spirit a bit.

Set list:

Bye Bye Beautiful
Dark Chest Of Wonders
Dead To The World
The Siren
The Islander
The Poet And The Pendulum

Wish I Had An Angel

Band line-up

Anette Olzon (Vocals)
Tuomas Holopainen (Keys)
Marco Hietala (Bass & Vocals)
Jukka Nevalainen (Drums)
Emppu Vuorinen (Guitars)

After the end of festival day 1 I had to rush to the beach to reach my ferry that was supposed to take me back to city. When I reached the quay (and I walked there very quickly) I was a bit schoked to realize that there were already plenty of other media persons and VIP guests awaiting the transfer also. It was nearly 3 am (Nightwish ended their show a bit after 1 am) when I finally stepped off the ferry in the city of Turku. A huge amount of "special guests" were still waiting for their ferry when I jumped to my ferry. Another thing to criticize would be the number of photographers, which should be limited a bit: during the gig of Nightwish, it was quite impossible to move at all in the photo pit. It seemed like everyone holding a press pass turned into a photographer all of a sudden!


The 69 Eyes

The second day of Ruisrock had already kicked off around noon, with domestic acts such as Lapko and Disco Ensemble leading the way. I arrived to the site just in time to see The 69 Eyes, the highly popular gothic rockers. These self-proclaimed "Helsinki Vampires" didn't shy away from the sunlight, but gave us a very good set with all the hits and more. And damn, these men in black do have a lot of hits - "Brandon Lee", "Feel Berlin", "Gothic Girl", "Devils", "Perfect Skin", "Never Say Die", "Lost Boys", just to name a few songs in the setlist. With a vast back catalogue to choose from, I didn't quite understand why they had to include a Doors cover "LA Woman" in the set too... it was well-recieved though, so maybe it was a justified inclusion.

The 69 Eyes sounded good and looked like rock stars on stage, which is not necessarily that common these days. Vocalist Jyrki and especially drummer Jussi are big media persons in Finland, and while it does seem like their presence is quite strong on stage too, they don't overshadow the other members of the band (Timo-Timo and Bazie on guitars and Archie on bass). Jyrki is a good frontman, and Jussi is obviously a graduate from the "Tommy Lee's school of entertaining drummers". His playing is really energetic, and it's no wonder that he's is very good physical shape. And oh how the little girls sighed when he jumped to the edge of the stage and poured beer into his trousers...

Hanoi Rocks

As soon as the echoes of the vampire rock had faded, the legendary Finnish glam rockers Hanoi Rocks cranked it up on the beach stage. Lead by the founding members Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy, this band is still a hard act to follow, a fact which the headliners Primal Scream were about to find out. This gig was one of the very first few with the new drummer George Atlagic, who joined the band in May. With him in the ranks, there are actually more Swedes than Finns in the band, the other two being guitarist Conny Bloom and bassist Andy "A.C." Christell. Anyway, George proved himself as a solid drummer, maybe a bit less flashy than the previous drummer Lacu, but a steady timekeeper nevertheless. This was also the first time for me to see the other "new guys" of the band, and they seemed to fit the band both musically and visually. Ex-Electric Boys frontman Conny has already proved himself as a good vocalist, and indeed his and A.C.'s backing vocals added some muscle to the choruses.

The true stars of the band were Monroe and McCoy of course, the ying and the yang of the band. While Monroe is a whirlwind on stage, an unstoppable rock'n roll rooster with all the classic frontman moves and then some, McCoy is the loose cannon who's performance can be a bit of a hit or miss, depending on the day (or night) and the refreshements he has enjoyed. This gig didn't start too well, as he almost fell on his face during one of the first songs. Monroe, who is known to be non-drinker, didn't look too happy. Thankfully McCoy shaped up and stayed up for the rest of the gig. His guitar playing was still quite good, but his backing vocals seemed a bit erratic.

Michael Monroe might not be the best vocalist in the world, but when it comes to showmanship, there are a few who can compete with him. People have learned to expect all kinds of stunts from him, and sure enough, he did his now-traditional "climbing towards the roof of the stage"-thing, a few costume changes, a bit of saxophone playing and a lot of interacting with the crowd.

The setlist was surprisingly heavy on the new stuff, with at least four songs from the band's latest studio album "Street Poetry", including the title track, the first single "Fashion" and "Powertrip". The band's next single will be the instantly catchy "Teenage Revolution", which might actually do quite well, if it gets to the playlists...The songs from the previous two albums were left out the set though, with the exception of "A Day Late, A Dollar Short", which went down very well. The new songs got a good reception, but it was the 80'ies classics like "Tragedy", "Don't You Ever Leave Me" and the closing number "Up Around The Bend" which turned the beach into a big singalong party. Yes, I know that "Up Around The Bend" is a cover song just like "LA Woman", but I think that Hanoi Rocks have pretty much adopted the song to be one of their own, and it's a cornerstone of their set.

Von Hertzen Brothers

Von Hertzen Brothers were the next band I thought I'd check out. I had heard good things about them, but their material was completely unknown to me. I went with an open mind and ended up being positively surprised.

The band consists of three Von Hertzen brothers (amazingly?), all quite seasoned veterans of the Finnish rock scene and all highly talent musicians. The band's music could be described as progressive rock, but that wouldn't do it justice really, as it's more accessible and melodic than prog rock usually is. While I was listening to the band's stunning harmonies, I found similarities to King's X, who played something slightly similar back in the late eighties.

Compared to the colourful rock'n roll circus of Hanoi Rocks, VHB were a bit bland visually, but then again, which band isn't? Vocalist/guitarist Mikko Von Hertzen has enough charisma to hold the audience in the palm of his hand, and his brothers back him up with extreme musicianship, along with the two other musicians on stage, drummer Mikko Kaakkuriniemi and keyboard player Juha Kuoppala. The light show was good too.

From what I could gather, they played at least these songs: Bring out the Sun, Faded Photographs, Let Thy Will Be Done, Somewhere in the Middle, Disciple of the Sun, Experience, River.

Primal Scream

Primal Scream from UK were the headliners of the big beach stage. Having only heard their hit "Rocks" back in the nineties, I didn't really know what to expect. I decided to grab something to eat before the band started the set, and sure enough, the first couple of songs sounded quite decent while I was eating my takeaway dinner on the beach.

As the band's set went on, their songs started to sound weaker and weaker. I finished my meal and went closer to see the band, which really didn't help at all. I have rarely witnessed a more boring live act, the band members seemed to be barely awake and especially the vocalist Bobby Gillespie was as flegmatic as one can be. He may have sung okay, but he barely moved from his spot and his chatter inbetween songs was quite lame. Usually the frontmen try to get a reaction out of the crowd, but Gillespie just couldn't be bothered.

The band had a considerably smaller crowd than Hanoi Rocks. I was able to walk to the frontrow quite easily, and snap a few shots of them. Quite why this band was the headliner I don't know... maybe it was demanded in their contract. I tried my best to tolerate the ever-growing boredom, but after a few songs I thought that enough is enough, and walked across the area to the Niittylava, the other main stage of Ruisrock.


HIM were about to start in 30 minutes or so, and to my suprise there were already hundreds of people waiting for them. I wasn't too optimistic about my chances of getting a few good photos of the band, but tried to find a decent place. No such luck, as more and more people flocked closer to the stage and most of them were in a "good festival spirit"... Having a thousand euros worth of camera equipment with me and being in the middle of a few thousand drunk and disorderly people didn't suddenly feel like a good idea, so I gave up and walked to the less crowded area.

HIM eventually started their set, and they sounded ok. At least "Right Here In My Arms", "Wings Of A Butterfly", "Buried Alive By Love" and "Wicked Game" were among the first few songs. At this point, I had pretty much given up hope of actually seeing the band (apart from the screen), let alone get any photos, and concentrated on being out of the way of the intoxicated youngsters... and believe me, there were a few of them. It's a fact that a big gathering like this is nothing more than a good excuse to get wasted for some, and to hell with the music... I guess I'm just too old, boring and serious about music to understand.

Once I had played the dodge-the-drunk game for some time, the wind started to play its' tricks on the sound and I decided that it was my que to leave. The bicycle ride back home in the warm night of July was nice, and separate routes for cyclists and pedestrians worked well at Ruissalo. I only had to ride among the "Night Of The Living Dead" for a few hundred metres...


Friday had been Mira's day and Saturday mine, but on Sunday we were both able to attend the festival. The athmosphere of Sunday was much nicer and less alcohol-driven than the previous two days. Sure, the beer was flowing in the bar areas, but the number of insanely drunk people was much lower.


I hadn't thought about seeing Teräsbetoni, as they played quite early, but Mira wanted to see them and that's what we did. I'm glad we did - they were one of the better bands of the festival. I'm not a huge fan of theirs, but I can't deny that their heroic metal works very well live. they've got catchy riffs, big, anthemic choruses and above all, a superb vocalist in Jarkko Ahola.

The lyrics of Teräsbetoni are mostly carved from the same wood, they are tales of battles and odes about the supremecy of metal. All this is delivered with a wink in their eye and tongues firmly in cheek (I hope!), but with utmost precision musically. In Ruisrock, the band's set consisted of their bigger hits and a selected few numbers from the band's latest album "Myrskyntuoja". The biggest crowdpleasers were naturally the Eurovision song contest entry "Missä Miehet Ratsastaa" and the two big hits from the band's first album "Metallitotuus"; "Taivas Lyö Tulta" and "Orjatar".

One of the most peculiar moments of the gig was during "Missä Miehet Ratsastaa", when higher powers seemed to be at work. As Ahola sang about cold wind, indeed a cold breeze went through the crowd... spooky. If the would have been lightning during "Taivas Lyö Tulta" ("Fire Across The Sky"), we might have started to pray to the the Metal Gods!

After Teräsbetoni's triumphant show there wasn't much for us the see for the next 90 minutes. Mira took advantage of her press pass (we only got one) and went to the VIP area to eat, while I got grabbed a bite among the "common people", and listened to the music of Ismo Alanko, an iconic Finnish alternative rocker. I've never really cared for his music, but he did manage to create a full sound even though his band consists of two people, him and percussionist Teho Majamäki. Popular female singer Jonna Tervonmaa guested on one song.



Mira was curious to see Lauri Tähkä & Elonkerjuu, a band that has sold a lot of records and become a staple on the domestic radio playlists. The band wears their rural roots proudly on their sleeve, and adds elements of traditional Finnish folk music to their rock sound. I've only heard a few of their songs on the radio and never paid too much attention to them, but that might change, because they were pretty good live. Their set, which was full of catchy songs, was very well recieved. They obviously had a lot of fans in the audience, since a lot of people seemed to know the lyrics. Yep, even though most of us live in the cities and are oh-so-very urban, sometimes that little country boy or girl inside us might raise his/her head...


We had to leave before Lauri & Co finished their set, as UK's "next big metal band" was about to start on the beach stage, and Mira had to be there a few minutes in advance to be able to get to the photo pit. BFMV proved to be another very popular act, not only judging by the crowd, but also by the number of T-shirts. Indeed, when we visited the merch stall, we overheard the sales guy saying that they only a had a few BFMV t-shirts left, and at that time the band hadn't even played yet.

The band came in with all guns blazing, opening their set with "Scream Aim Fire" from their latest album. This frantic song was a sign of things to come - to my disappoinment the more melodic songs were dropped from the set, and most of the songs were straightforward thrashing. This didn't bother the fans one bit, they were enjoying the show, banging their heads and slamming into each other in the "circle pit".

BFMV's level of energy was high, and they put on a good metal show. Vocalist/guitarist Matthew "Matt" Tuck and bass player Jason "Jay" James were the ones in the centre of the attention, Tuck singing the clean parts and James doing most of the aggressive, growling vocals. Guitarist Michael "Padge" Padget did his job very well, just like drummer Michael “Moose” Thomas, but their roles weren't as noteworthy.

The band did slow down for one song, the new album's Metallica-like ballad "Say Goodnight", but after that they switched to a higher gear again. I was hoping that they'd play my favourite track "Hearts Burst Into Fire" and possibly their brilliant cover of Robert Tepper's "No Easy Way Out", but that didn't happen. I guess the latter would have been very unlikely anyway, since the song has only been released in Japan. Oddly enough, they left out their biggest single too, "All These Things I Hate (Revolve Around Me)".

Scream Aim Fire
Four Words (To Choke Upon)
Tears Don't Fall
Suffocating Under The Words Of Sorrow (What Can I Do)
Say Goodnight
Take It Out On Me
Eye Of The Storm
Spit You Out
Deliver Us From Evil
Hand Of Blood
Waking The Demon

After BFMV's gig we decided to call it a day, since the rest of the bands didn't really appeal to us. Turisas' viking metal show might have been fun, but we would have had to wait for three hours for that. Thanks, but no thanks.

All in all, Ruisrock 2008 was a nice event, but I doubt whether it'll go down in history as one of the most memorable years of the festival. When it comes to the bigger domestic bands, there's a certain predictability in the line-up, but then again, there aren't that many major bands in Finland. As for the foreign bands, the line-up offered basically only one band that I really wanted to see (BFMV). Maybe the line-up was a bit heavy on the indie and punk rockers for me. Next year I wouldn't mind seeing more hard rock and melodic metal. A band like Gotthard would most probably make a lot of new friends with their excellent live show.a Even though the indie-loving Finnish press doesn't write about them, they can not have sold that much less albums if Finland than, say, The National.


Reviews by Kimmo Toivonen (KT) and Mira Suutari-Toivonen (MST)
Photos by Mira Suutari-Toivonen (Friday, Sunday) and Kimmo Toivonen (Saturday)
(c) 2008 RockUnited.Com