The Turku area of Finland hasn't been exactly spoilt with international band visits lately. I was actually very surprised that Turku was one of the cities of Seventh Wonder's mini-tour of Finland. If a band plays only three gigs here, Turku isn't usually one of the locations...
The gig took place in Saaristobaari, a nice venue that I hadn't visited before. The layout of the venue is interesting. The biggest room where the bands play has a huge window behind the stage, so if there's no backdrop one can actually share the band's view. The floor is on two levels and the stage is on the lower one, which is rather special too.
On two of the three dates the support act was SIMULACRUM from Turku, a progressive metal band masterminded by Christian "Chrism" Pulkkinen, who you might know as the keyboard player in the last Eden's Curse line-up. EC having called it a day recently, Chrism can now concentrate on his other projects, of which Simulacrum is probably closest to his heart. Indeed, the band has been working hard on their third album, which is due later this year I believe. At Saaristobaari we heard several songs from it.
Since the last time I saw Simulacrum in 2015, the band has expanded their line-up. The addition of a second vocalist Erik Kraemer is something that I'd call a genius move. The band can now deliver great vocal harmonies and the two frontmen add visuality to their show. The "old" vocalist Niklas Broman is still responsible for most of the banter and the jokes, some of which were actually quite funny...
Having not heard most of the songs before and them being not so easy to digest anyway, I can't really pick any standout tracks. All of them were immaculately played and what's more, despite some microphone trouble the band had a better sound than the headliners.
As far as I know this was the "second coming" of SEVENTH WONDER in Turku, and they were greeted by an enthusiastic audience. Since their previous gig vocalist Tommy Karevik has become a household name in metal, thanks to his other job in KAMELOT. Sure enough, he's always been a great vocalist and a good frontman, but I think he has stepped up to the premium league over the last few years. He's got charisma and star quality.
Seventh Wonder is easily my favourite prog metal band. They write complex and long songs but they always add superb hooks and irresistable melodies to them. I rate their two previous albums "Mercy Falls" and "The Great Escape" as true masterpieces, and their latest album "Tiara" is very good too. In Turku the band played a set that featured songs from the three albums mentioned above and a couple from their second one "Waiting In The Wings". "Inner Enemy", one of the two studio tracks from their live album was also played. I was a little disappointed that only "Alley Cat" from "The Great Escape" made it to the setlist, since that album is full of great songs. I guess the crowd would have enjoyed more "escapism" too, since they really loved "Alley Cat" and sang along very loudly.
As I mentioned before, the sound for SW wasn't quite as clear as for the support act, and especially the vocals got drowned out at times. Still, the show was an intimate, enjoyable experience. The crowd deserves an extra credit for having done their homework - they sang along to all of the songs, not only the video hits.
"Tears For a Father", the touching ballad from "Mercy Falls" was one of the absolute highlights, particulary because of the great crowd participation. Karevik didn't have to sing that much, as the audience took care of that!
Bassist Andreas Blomqvist surprised us all by his fine Finnish skills, later he was even asked to "speak more Finnish!" by someone in the crowd. Apparently his other half is a Finn.
The set was over way too soon. The band could have easily played another hour of nothing but SW classics, but that wasn't in the cards this time. Clever cats, leaving us hungry for more...
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
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