The three-day metal festival Sauna Open Air was held for the third time in Tampere, Finland. This year the festival was moved to a new location, to the idyllic coastline of lake Näsijärvi. It seemed that the organizers had profiled every day to cater for different type of an audience, with Thursday being dedicated to the rock sounds of Iggy Pop and Black League, while Friday was more of an extreme metal day with Cradle Of Filth headlining. The line-up of the final day (Saturday) was largely dedicated to the 80's Metal sounds, with two legendary 80's bands performing and one of their most successful disciples making a sort of a "triumphant homecoming" after their victorious Eurovision Song Contest battle.

It would be an understatement to say that LORDI is really popular in Finland now. They are more than popular, they are a phenomenon. I have no doubt that their presence drew a few extra thousand visitors to the festival, especially younger ones. Sure enough, everyone got what they were hoping for - a great set of catchy metal hits with pyrotechnics, theatrics and costumes. Some "serious" rock fans may think that it's all gimmicks, but there's no question about the band's entertainment value.

The show was kicked off with the intro of the bands' latest album "The Arockalypse", a "radio broadcast" about alien monsters invading the earth. As a coincidence, the monster voice in the intro is none other than Mr. Dee Snider... "Bringing Back The Balls To Rock" was the actual opening song, followed by the anthemic "Get Heavy" from the first album. The band didn't spare on the pyrotechics, with lots of massive bursts of fire keeping the first few rows feeling suitably hot... it was the SAUNA festival after all!

With the next song "The Kids Who Wanna Play With The Dead" Mr. Lordi started to bring his "toy collection" to the stage - first there was a severely injured doll with loose limbs and for "Pet The Destroyer" he got himself a "Silence Of the Lambs" -styled mask and a butcher's apron. BBQ-time...

Lordi's second album "The Monsterican Dream" was a slight disappointment saleswise, but it did spawn a couple of big radio hits, of which "My Heaven Is Your Hell" was the next song in the set. And we all sang along to the catchy chorus... "It Snows In Hell" is going to be the next single from "The Arockalypse", and naturally it was showcased in Tampere. Lordi's vocals on the album version do sound a bit corny, but I think he sang it better on stage.

"Blood Red Sandman" featured a short "play" with bassist Ox taking the leading role and giving the odd hermit-looking creature a run for his money. Mr. Lordi wore his "Sandman" hat which actually made him look like a Santa From Hell! Next up we had "Who's Your Daddy", a song quite obviously influenced by Gene Simmons' lyrical themes (to put it mildly). I was kind of expecting some "Lordi-girls" to appear on stage, but nope, it was only these monsters on the loose.

The famous wings of Mr. Lordi made their appearance during "Devil Is A Loser", a hit from the first album. The actual set was closed with "Supermonstars". As usual, the monsters didn't speak during the gig, but Mr. Lordi did shout out a few select words between the songs..."Sauna!" and "Tampere!"...

I don't think that no one, not even the first-time gig goers of which there were many, thought that the band would not return to the stage. After all, the new national hymn of Finland was yet to be played! The three-song encore section was kickstarted with "Good To Be Bad", one my favourite tracks from the new album, and followed by the breakthrough hit "Would You Love A Monsterman", which turned into another big sing-along session. Then it was time for some Hallelujah... "Hard Rock Hallelujah" that is. Awa's organ intro invited us to the church of Metal, and we gladly accepted the invitation. It was quite astonishing to listen to the 10.000 voices singing in unison. It all ended with a bang, or actually quite a few of them, a massive display of fireworks on stage.

WASP have been known for their theatrics and showmanship, but at Sauna they relied on their classic songs. There were no bombs, guillotines or tortured nuns as in the past, even Blackie Lawless' more recent prop, the hi-tech mikestand had been left behind. The only things reminding us of the band's outrageous nature were Blackie's chainsaw wristbands and his "light" eye makeup.

The WASP line-up had changed since we last saw 'em in Finland a couple of years ago. Blackie is still the leader of the band of course, and bass player Mike Duda still remains in the band, but for the drummer's stool they had recruited Mike Dupke, and the lead guitarist's position had been given to Doug Blair. He was already in the band briefly in the early nineties.

The set was basically a "Best Of WASP" collection, concentrating on the early albums: hits like "On Your Knees", "Chainsaw Charlie", "L.O.V.E. Machine", "Wild Child", "Widowmaker", "Sleeping In The Fire", "The Idol" and of course "I Wanna Be Somebody" were performed. "Blind In Texas" was saved for the encore. If I'm not mistaken, the band didn't play anything that was recorded after 1992...

We saw the band twice on their 2004 tour, and compared to those gigs, this one was quite a bit less exciting. Unlike Lordi and Twisted Sister later on, WASP didn't have that great a sound, and especially the first few tracks were almost cacophonic. I don't know whether Blackie had some problems with his voice (or the microphone?), as he asked Mike Duda to sing a few lines here and there.

WASP may have been a bit of a disappointment, but Twisted Sister and especially Dee Snider impressed the hell out of me! Okay, it was obvious that time had taken its' toll on the guys, and some of them had gained a few extra pounds (and some artificial hair), but they still rocked the Sauna and everyone seemed to love every minute of it. I've never been the band's biggest fan, but even their less outstanding songs sounded quite okay, when they were performed live.

The party started with "What You Don't Know", followed by "The Kids Are Back" and "You Can't Stop Rock'n Roll", all performed with lots of energy. Dee Snider proved that he is indeed one of the great frontmen of metal, running recklessly all over the stage, yet never missing a note. His between-song-banter was really amusing as well... "the last time we played at a festival in Finland, we came to the stage and half of the people were unconscious! So thank you for not getting completely shitfaced yet, and being still awake!"... Dee: "Does it get ever get dark here?" - Audience: "No!" - Dee: "Sleeping must really suck!"

After a small dose of DEE-isms, the show continued with "Captain Howdy", "Shoot 'em Down" and "Come Out And Play". Then the drummer A.J. Pero pounded out the first beats of "We're Not Gonna Take It", and the crowd went crazy! Another moving moment for the band must have been "The Price", on which the audience just took over the vocals, before Dee had sung a note. "I Believe In Rock'n Roll" was up next I think, with Jay Jay French's commentry on American Idol. Somewhere between songs Dee congratulated Lordi for their Eurovision victory and the two platinum records the band had just received in "their home country, Denmark"! He was quick enough to fix his small mistake though, and anyways, we didn't mind that little slip...

The main set was brought to an end with "Burn In Hell" and the mother of all rock anthems, "I Wanna Rock". Dee had the crowd in the palm of his hand, and when asked us to jump, we damn well jumped up and down with our fists in the air!

As encores, we were treated to "Fire Still Burns", "Under The Blade" and the song of the TS fans, "SMF". Although every band says that "It's great to be here" and every band probably says the same things in every country, I couldn't help but believe that Snider and French were being sincere, when they thanked the crowd - they must have enjoyed the fantastic reception they got from the Finnish fans. We surely enjoyed their fantastic show.

Report by Kimmo Toivonen,
Photos by Mira Suutari-Toivonen,

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