There's a new rock vibe flowing in Finland. For a while hard rock fans thought Finland can only produce metal with growling vocals and gloomy lyrics, but in the last few years the music scene in this dark and cold country has raised its lighter side for the fans of more melodic and cheerful music. Finland now has (to name a few) Reckless Love, Brother Firetribe, Santa Cruz and Free Spirit filling that emptiness and the latest of them is Shiraz Lane, a group of guys in their twenties raising a racket on their path.
On a Wednesday evening the band celebrated their debut album release by playing a gig in Tavastia. For Crying Out Loud was released just a few days earlier. Even though Finland is known as the metal country of the world, the worldwide plague that is known today as low concert ticket and album sales, also affects Finland. Sure people here are enthusiastic of their fave bands, but they still rather download the albums from the net and are lazy to go to concerts. Wednesday is probably one of the worst days to have a concert, so Tavastia wasn't even half packed this evening.
The band (Hannes Kett - vocals, Jani Laine - lead guitar, Miki Kalske - rhythm guitar, Joel Alex - bass, Ana Willman - drums) has already appeared in one of the biggest festivals in Europe, the Wacken Open Air, and also played in Japan, Canada and Italy at the Frontiers Rock Festival, so it seems that the world is wide open for the guys. They've certainly gained a whole lot of confidence from these gigs, as they are a powerful force live who don't seem to be pushed back from not filling the concert venue.
They had a good opening with the upbeat Wake Up, which should've really woken up the crowd, but Finns wake up slowly - even the younger crowd, which was the majority tonight. The start was a passionate outburst and continued in the same manner till the end. Only the few slow songs calmed them down. They actually chose to play three slow songs in a row, which wasn't the best idea considering keeping the crowds attention. For Crying Out Loud is packed with great songs in 80's style and the slow songs are also great, but I don't recall ever seeing a show, where a band did a stunt like this wrapping their ballads together. It just slows down the mood too much. This slow part of the show also included an acoustic part. The band had a good live sound and the acoustic performance worked well too.
It's not often when Tavastia has an extended stage, but tonight they had a catwalk in the middle of the stage and it came for a good use. Mostly it was used by Kett, Alex and Laine, Kett using it at wooing the crowd and Laine delivering his fine guitar solos. While Laine dared to face the crowd at the catwalk many times, his axe brother Kalske preferred mostly to stay under radar at main stage. Alex is a bassist extraordinaire, he performs like he's the second lead guitarist of the band. It's not often you see such a lively bassist. It's a real pleasure to see the whole band doing such a great teamwork on stage and doing what they're supposed to do there, entertain people. Drummer Willman has an easily recognizable style, and I found myself thinking "more cowbell" at some point during the show, when he actually used a cowbell. Not many dare to use that anymore, probably not after the Saturday Night Live sketch came out in 2000.
The occasional pyrotechnic smoke bursts surprising the crowd were a good addition to the bands visual part. What didn't work too well though were the dark green/red lights, which often left the band in the shadows out of crowds sight. A nice touch to the show was to bring Samy Elbanna from Lost Society to perform Money Talks with the band. Being just as energetic as Kett is this worked like a dynamite, blowing the performance to new levels and giving a real kick to the crowd, which towards the end of the show started showing some signs of life. At the encore the band played Mental Slavery from their five track EP Be The Slave Or Be The Change (2015) and if you haven't seen the video for the song, here's when Kett comes on stage as a mental patient; wearing a straitjacket with messed up hair and the dark runoff makeup. The song has become one of their hits and it's no wonder, it has a powerful drive in it with a massively catchy chorus.
Kett is a great frontman born for the stage, he gives himself completely to the show and talks to the crowd like they're his closest friends. The singer has a variable high pitched sound sometimes resembling Slik Toxik's Nick Walsh and Dangerous Toys' Jason McMaster, but the Guns N' Roses references are close enough too. There was a moment when he tried something that will definitely end in failure; get the sober Finnish crowd to sing with him, and he did fail in that, but with his charisma owning the stage he joked that he can't sing either, but he's still doing it. He's the wild card of the pack, a free spirit and a lovable performer, who made the gig feel like a party together with his talented band mates. Rock 'n' roll isn't supposed to be too clean and it's all about having fun, and they succeeded perfectly in throwing us a fun show, ending it in style with a confetti rain. The whole debut album and material from the latest EP were probably played, but I didn't write their setlist down.
A few songs in the setlist: Wake Up, Momma's Boys, Begging For Mercy, Story To Tell, Same Ol' Blues, Out There Somewhere, Friend In Need, M.L.N.W. (Make Love Not War), Money Talks, For Crying Out Loud, Mental Slavery
Report and pictures by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com