Tavastia, Helsinki, Finland, May 5th 2007

Who would've thought what the new wave of metal boom all over the world would cause, but here we were, the Tavastia club packed like a can of sardines on a Saturday evening and everybody going nuts like this was their first gig ever. Things couldn't be better from the bands point of view, but as a crowd member it gets distressful when not being able to move your body yourself. At least you didn't waste your own energy, but let others do the clapping and cheering instead. I still had to join in the fun though, as well as one could in the pressure of the sold out club. It's funny how the mood catches everyone like flu and finally when Saxon came on stage the club was boiling from excitement.

HELLFUELED from Sweden have managed to get quite a lot of fans from Finland as well. Might be their Black Label Society-type of metal that interests the metal fans, but the band plays very balanced shows too. I only had time to catch two songs from the band, and the place was packed by this time already. Not all knew who the band on stage was, but there were dedicated fans as well. It was very noisy already at this point, and the levels only got higher during the evening. Hellfueled was the evenings heaviest band, and each band played a little bit different metal. Some Saxon fans weren't into Masterplan or Hellfueled and the other way round. With a line-up like this you just can't please everyone.

The event started quite late in Tavastia manner, so MASTERPLAN took the stage around ten o'clock. People were very interested in seing Mike DiMeo do the Jorn Lande songs, and he does sing a bit differently from Lande. On the latest album, MK II, the band has pushed DiMeo sounding close to Lande, and the album sounds great all in all. Live DiMeo, at least in Finland, didn't reach the highest notes, so the band adjusted to his levels and songs such as "Soulburn" got a little different aspect to them, and the final result live wasn't as magical as before. DiMeo is a strong vocalist though, who is a good follower to Lande and so a good choice for Masterplan. There aren't many good vocalists out there and DiMeo did a brilliant job in Tavastia, although his performance wasn't as inspiring, catchy and intimate as was expected after hearing guitarist Roland Grapow earlier mentioning to me DiMeo being a better performer than Lande. Still there was a lot of power in it, although he gave a bit too serious impression.The band was shining on stage, the guys must've been very taken by the metal spirit in Tavastia, where people welcomed Masterplan loudly on stage. It's not often people cheer this way to support bands. The spirit in the club made the band perform even better, as I don't recall them ever being so energetic and giving this much to the audience, although generally the show left a somewhat assorted picture, and this hasn't been the case with Masterplan earlier.

The fact that Masterplan now has the latest addition in drummer Mike Terrana and a guitarist like Grapow from Helloween-fame, gives the band more respect and credibility. Eventhough you never listened to Terrana's work in Rage or other bands or Helloween or Grapow's guitarwork, it's easy to tell these guys have an important role in the band. While Terrana bashes away with his powerful style, Grapow brings in easily flowing and catchy melodies, that touch many metal genres. His solos are touching too, although none was heard in Tavastia, and he wasn't at his best here. Grapow concentrated on his playing though, his hair tied out so he could see his instrument. The band soloed in "Soulburn", but this part was too fuzzy to spot the actual soloparts. Terrana did a fine drum solo here after the rest though, tricking with his drumsticks and while there wasn't really nothing new in the solo, Mike's own powerful style gives so much impact to Masterplan's show. Even during the dr um solo people were cheering loudly. The sounds weren't as good as they could've been here, and this ruined a little from Masterplan's show, who sounded a bit distorted. But their powerful music spoke for itself and when the band performs as vividly as the guys did in their 45 minute set, it's a joy to watch them and be part of the show.

Setlist: Spirit Never Die, Enlighten Me, Take Me Over, Lost And Gone, Crystal Night, Soulburn, drumsolo, Back For My Life, band introduction, Kind Hearted Light

The Brits SAXON stepped on stage already at eleven, not at midnight when main acts usually kick it off here. The cause for such strange schedule was Saxon's long setlist. The band earlier informed they'll be playing for two and half hours, which proved to be right. Not all were pleased about the long set, but then again Tavastia was still packed till the end. The show was pure respect to 80's metal, and it's no wonder, such metal pioneers as Saxon are. The band created a time machine in Tavastia, performing like it was still the 80's, the air was filled with fists banging together at the same time creating an army like feeling, and the band sounded exactly like they did twenty years ago or more. This wasn't Saxon's first visit in Finland, they played here already in the 80's and the last visit was in 2006 in a festival. The lightshow at Tavastia was great, but as said earlier, each band was mixed too loud. Saxon mostly concentrated promoting their new album, "The Inner San ctum", playing seven songs out of ten from it, which didn't matter. The new album sounds great and Saxon has managed to create todays sounds on their latest, sounding very dynamic, yet still keeping some of that 80's spirit in it too.

Eventhough the crowd was well warmed up on a Saturday night, they warmed up even more after a few songs. The classics never die, and the house rocked to songs like "Dogs Of War", "Solid Ball Of Rock", "Denim And Leather" and "747". Sadly no songs were heard from albums "Destiny" or "Innocence Is No Excuse", which are in my opinion few of the best albums from Saxon. Eventhough the lead singer Biff Byford doesn't make long speaches between the songs, he still introduced the songs well and even made a few jokes. His best gimmick was stuffing their setlist in his mouth and chew on it for a while. The crowd was asked what they wanna hear, and was very pleased of the set. Only one solo was heard in the set from guitarist Doug Scarratt. That seemed to be alright with the fans. I wonder what kind of a drum solo would Nigel Glockler have performed, since he was very lively. Bassist Nibbs Carter gave all he had live, and under those hot spotlights he finally had to throw away his s hirt from sweating so hard. Wonder how Biff managed to pull the whole show in his long coat. Bringing contrast to Nibbs' performance was guitarist Paul Quinn, who mostly stayed on his side like a shy mouse. It's amazing how few facial expressions a man can make during such an amazing show. Watching these two perform with complitely different styles made me smile. Well, you give what you can and want, and even if Quinn isn't the type to go nuts on stage, the rest of the band still brought the show alive, and after a while Quinn did give a satisfied grin to the crowd. It's amazing to see such an old band still rocking so hard live, and there's no doubt about it anymore why so many still love the band. If only all the bands out there could give such shows, we'd be rocking hard every night! Take it from Saxon; gotta rock to stay alive!

Setlist: State Of Grace, Let Me Feel Your Power, Motorcycle Man, If I Was You, Strong Arm Of The Law, Dogs Of War, 20 000 Ft, Travellers In Time, Solid Ball Of Rock, Power And The Glory, To Hell And Back Again, Red Star Falling, Princess Of The Night, Crusader, I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive), encore: Atila The Hun, Witchfinder General, 747 (Strangers In The Night), And The Bands Played On, guitar solo, Wheels Of Steel, second encore: Heavy Metal Thunder, Denim And Leather, Ashes To Ashes

Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com
Pictures by Kari Helenius, carda [at] metalphotos.com

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