The 42nd Ruisrock festival offered one of the most ecletic line-ups of its' history, with artists ranging from electronic pop to reggae. Maybe the festival should consider changing its' name to Ruismusic or something, as the number of rock bands seems to be diminishing every year. Still, with 5 stages and 3 days, there's room for all kinds of music. The "something for everyone" approach drew 63000 people to Ruissalo, so I doubt there'll be changes to it anytime soon. "It's not like I came here to listen to music", I overheard some guy proclaiming to his friends. Whether he was completely serious or not, for a good number of visitors the attraction is the festival itself, not the bands.

For the last few years, Friday has been the most metal-oriented day of the festival. This had changed for this year, and in Friday's line up there was only one band that could be called a metal band, Mustasch. The headliner of the day was Pulp, a recently reformed Brit-pop band who scored a few hits in the nineties.

The first band on our list was Rival Sons, the retro-blues-rockers from USA. I wasn't familiar with their music, only with their reputation as a good live act. They did impress me with their groove and energy, and their vocalist Jay Buchanan has a definite "old-school" rock star vibe. Kinda like young Robert Plant or Jim Morrison reincarnated... "Burn Down Los Angeles" was the standout song for me, a really hard rockin' track with a decent hook.

After a while the band's appeal started to wear off. Not because the band didn't play or perform well, but because of the lack of really memorable songs. Their material had a strange deja-vu feel, as if they were cover versions of some less famous 70'ies "golden oldies".

Finnish pop-rocker Olavi Uusivirta drew a sizeable crowd to watch his gig on the beach stage. I wandered there just in time to hear him sing the last few songs of his set. "Nuori ja Kaunis" ("Young And Beautiful") was a crowd favourite. Apparently most of them were young and beautiful, or at least one or the other. Anyway, I didn't really care for his music, at times he seemed a bit pretentious, especially when he borrowed his phrasing style from Kauko Röyhkä (a Finnish singer). Our photographer Mira, who watched more of his set, thought that he was an energetic performer.

Disco Ensemble were next... they are a critically acclaimed Finnish alternative rock band. They played on the biggest of the five stages, and got a lot of diehard fans in the front row. They were frantic performers, especially vocalist/keyboard player Miikka Koivisto sang and abused his keyboards like a man possessed. With a t-shirt falling apart at the seams and a worn-out headband he looked like a man who "just doesn't give a fuck"... and maybe a bit like famous Finnish movie character Uuno Turhapuro.

Disco Ensemble doesn't mess around much, they just churn out their uptempo songs one after another. I can't say I was familiar with their tunes, and perhaps because of that I didn't get too much out of their performance. Decent stuff but maybe the songs started to sound a bit alike.

The Rasmus recently released their new album "The Rasmus" and are touring in support of that. At Ruisrock their set was an excellent selection of the older hits and the better tracks from the new album. Opening with the stadium-sized "Stranger" the show got a slow-burning start, the band playing it behind a see-through curtain for a while. The more familiar and uptempo "Livin' In A World Without You" really kicked off the show, followed by another hit "First Day Of My Life". The balladic "Justify" went down quite well, as did the new album's first single "I'm A Mess". It worked better live than on record.

"Guilty" became a singalong anthem, while the new album's ballad "Save Me Once Again" and the long and heavy "Immortal" kind of cooled down the crowd. But then the real hit cavalcade began - the early ballad "Liquid" was followed by "No Fear", "F-F-Falling", "In My Life" and "In The Shadows". By now the tent had filled up and people were going crazy. A major Finnish tabloid wrote that The Rasmus gig had been a failure when it came to turn-out - the writer obviously missed the second half of the show when the place was packed.

Our plan was to leave after checking out the next band Mustasch, as we had very little interest in Refused or Pulp. We stuck to our plan, and caught a few songs worth of Mustasch. This Swedish Metal band played "no frills"-metal and were rather entertaining. Vocalist/guitarist Ralf Gyllenhammar has a strong stage presence, reminding me a little bit of James Hetfield but with a wicked glint in his eyes. His "RRRaskas Metalli!" ("Heavy Metal!")-shouts were hilarious... The band's setlist might have been better if they hadn't played "Deep In The Woods" and "Heresy Blasphemy" next to each other, only separated by a short instrumental. Both songs are based on a very similar guitar riff, which made me wonder whether they were playing the same song over and over. Couldn't help but think of Beavis And Butt-head during that riff/those songs: "DagadadaggDaggDaggDagga"... "Uh-huh, dude, this is a cool band"..."yeah, they rock! DagadadaggDaggDaggDagga!" And to that I conclude our Friday recap.


The Party Day. 30.000 tickets were sold for the most popular day of the festival, and that with only a couple of non-Finnish artists in the schedule. Yep, the domestic bands are very popular over here, although it must be said that the two headliners Michael Monroe and Nightwish are both internationally successful bands and have multi-national line-ups.

Another Finnish "music export success story" is that of Apocalyptica. They're a popular group despite their unusual instruments and mostly instrumental material, and a lot of people wanted to see their show. The band's Cello Metal had widespread appeal that wasn't limited to metal fans only.

The band made their breakthrough with their covers of Metallica songs, and sure enough, the covers were very popular in Ruisrock too. The few songs that featured vocals stood out as well. On the albums the band has enlisted some very famous vocalists to sing for them, but on tour the band uses Richard "Tipe" Johnson. He is known as one of the premier rock vocalists in Finland and known for his work with Gringos Locos and The Leningrad Cowboys. He did a great job on "I'm Not Jesus", "Bring Them To Light" and possibly the best recieved song of the gig, "I Don't Care". The four "official" Apocalyptica guys were really impressive, they made it look like it was the most natural thing in the world to play heavy metal with cellos! Full points for showmanship for the whole band.

Swedish 90'ies sensation The Cardigans were a band that a lot of people were waiting to see, especially when they had promised to play their hit album "Gran Turismo" in complete. I don't know what the fans thought of the gig, but for me the band looked like they were just going through the motions. Sometimes the energy of a band on stage can make them enjoyable to watch even though one doesn't care for the songs, but this time there was no such luck. The band was simply boring and lifeless. We walked away after a few songs, so it's possible that they found some energy later on. I hope that the fans who had waited for this a long time got their money's worth.

As a late replacement to Children Of Bodom, Amorphis were rocking on the main stage and they were at least more lively than The Cardigans. With this gig, the band has now played 6 years in a row at Ruisrock - that must be some kind of a record!

PMMP is a phenomenally successful Finnish duo who just had a three-week run at number one on the charts with their latest album. Their Ruisrock show was a big one with a lot of lights, pyrotechnics and a whole lot of people on stage. Now it was the time for the energy to overcome the songs, as I found the band's performance quite entertaining, even though I don't really care for their music. The girls Paula and Mira have a strong grasp of show(wo)manship and their songs were highly popular. I'm quite sure that they were the biggest draw of the day, as it was almost impossible to move in the crowd during their set. They had people singing along and dancing even in the back corners of the area. That's saying something because usually the fan-mania is limited to the few dozen metres closest to the stage.

Another popular domestic artist was Chisu, a 30-year old songstress who has released three big-selling albums so far. She took the stage looking very much like one quite iconic international superstar, as you can see from the photos...

Chisu's soft vocals and well-known pop hits made her one of the most popular acts of the day. To me her music is a bit bland, but apparently it's suitable to the Finnish radio stations and the lyrics touch a nerve with a lot of Finns.

The last two acts were the ones we were most looking forward to seeing. First of them was Michael Monroe, the band carrying the name of its' leader.

Monroe, the former Hanoi Rocks vocalist has struck gold with his new band, collecting accolades such as Classic Rock's "The Best Album of The Year" award for the band's studio debut “Sensory Overdrive”. We saw the band a couple of years ago in Ruisrock when The Wildhearts' Ginger was still in the band and were quite impressed, but I have to say that this year's gig was even better. Ginger's no longer in the picture, but ex-Backyard Baby Dregen is a worthy replacement and the band is still the same well-oiled machine. This time the setlist was better with less covers and more "real" Monroe material, songs from the new album, a couple of Demolition 23 songs and some Hanoi stuff. I still keep hoping that they could add "Man With No Eyes" or "Smokescreen" from "Not Fakin' It" to the setlist but what are the odds?

It was the 50th Birthday show for the ever-young Monroe, and there were some special guests on stage. Monroe's "The Voice Of Finland" protégé Mikko Herranen got to sing "Dead, Jail Or Rock'n Roll" with him, and a bit later Apocalyptica joined Michael on stage. As a special surprise, Michael sang a Finnish-language duet with Jenni Vartiainen, one of the biggest-selling artists in the country. They performed Jenni's hit "Missä Muruseni On" with Apocalyptica accompanying them. Monroe's Hanoi band mate Nasty Suicide joined him on stage too, as did GG Caravan, a trio of rappers, not to mention Michael's mother. Little Steven, Slayer, The Hives and many others sent their greetings via a video.

Even without all these festivities, the gig was a special one. The band rocked and had a true world-class rock star as their frontman, who did his usual Ruisrock stunts and climbed up the lightning rig and was generally all over the place. In a good way.

After Monroe's 110% performance, just about any band would have seemed a bit lame, and I'm afraid that happened to Nightwish to a degree. They had a big production with bombs, smoke and screens, but somehow they didn't blow me away. They were good, but not great, which they should have been to compete with the previous artist.

Strangely, they kicked off the set with three big hits; "Storytime", "Wish I Had An Angel" and "Amaranth". They got the crowd wild, but the more demanding and lengthy "Scaretale" somehow killed the mood. "I Want My Tears Back" and "Come Cover Me", both performed with bagpipe player Troy Donockley were good songs but maybe a bit unknown for the casual listeners, as the anxiety in the crowd seemed to increase. Instead of watching the band, a lot of people were just chatting or wandering about.

It took til' "Nemo" for the band to capture the attention of the crowd, and they held onto it with "Over The Hills And Far Away". During the last two songs a lot of people had already started their journey towards the city. That journey was once again quite interesting to say the least, a lot of accidents barely missed with fellow bicyclists thanks to the dozens of walkers on the wrong path. It was like The Walking Dead - The Live Event, only these walkers didn't try to bite and we restrained from bashing anyone's head...

Roll Tide (intro)
Wish I Had an Angel
I Want My Tears Back (with Troy Donockley)
Come Cover Me (with Troy Donockley)
Finlandia (with Troy Donockley)
Planet Hell
Dark Chest of Wonders
Over the Hills and Far Away (with Troy Donockley)
Song of Myself
Last Ride of the Day
Imaginaerum (outro)

Despite the forecasts, the weather was favourable for both days. On Sunday the tables were turned and a downpour started. Since the Sunday's line-up didn't have a single band I really would have wanted to see, we chose not to go. The headliners included rapper Snoop Dogg and reggae legend Jimmy Cliff... not something worth spending an evening in the rain.

Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Photos by Mira Suutari-Toivonen
and Kimmo Toivonen

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