Human Temple, a hard rock band and Hanna Pakarinen, the first ever Idols-winner - an unlikely pairing? In theory yes, but musically, not really. Also, both artists are about to release their first albums, and there are other funny little details, so read on...
This gig was a part of the annual "Merefesti"-event which is held in Uusikaupunki, a beatiful town some 50 kilometres from Turku. During summer and especially the Merefesti the somewhat quiet little town really comes alive, and the weekend is full of all kinds of happenings. This year the town is even more lively, as there's a reality TV series that is being filmed in the area and the surrounding archipelago. It is indeed the show that has borrowed its' title for this concert, "A Great Adventure". One might say that it was quite adventurous for the organizers to take a chance on a hard rock band and two quite inexperienced young artists (the other being another Idols-finalist Christian Forss), none of whom have released any albums yet! The concert was held in a sports field, and due to the headliner Hanna's rather young fanbase, it started quite early, at six in the evening.
Human Temple were the opening act, and while it was clear that the audience was quite different than what they've used to, they tried their best and indeed, I would say that they won at least some of them over.
The band played most of the tracks off their soon-to-be-released "Insomnia"-album, one new song "Let It Go" which is actually from the solo repertoire of Tony Green, the band's keyboard player. They also played "Stronger", a Britney Spears-cover, which was saved till last. It's been in the band's set for months, but here it did work for their benefit even more than usual, as the very young audience recognized the song. Actually, even Hanna Pakarinen has sung it during the Idols-competition! Out of their own songs I would say that the ballad "Desert Rain" got the best reaction - do they have a hit in it? Their most "metallic" song "Judas My Brother" had its' fans too in the audience ("the die-hard fans from Poland", as Janne Hurme introduced them). A few of the songs really could have used backing vocals - apparently guitarist Jari Salo and Tony sang from the top of their lungs but very little of it was heard!
Idols-finalist Christian Forss did a short "singback"-set after Human Temple, performing three songs he sung in the competition, and his brand new debut single. He was a good performer and had his own fans in the audience, but I doubt that his boyband-styled pop would attract many of our readers. Well, he did sing "Livin' On A Prayer", and the single didn't sound bad, as far as boyband-pop goes.
Idols-winner Hanna Pakarinen was the one performer most of the audience had come to see. One could easily tell that she didn't have that much experience. She didn't interact with the audience too much, but I guess it's understandable, after all it was her first bigger "real" live gig. She'll get better I'm sure. One thing that I am not so sure about is her voice, her singing style must take its' toll on her...I generally do think that she has a fine voice, but at times it was evident that the high notes were painful to reach.
Hanna too performed all the songs on her first album I believe, and most of them did sound pretty good. I was curious to hear whether she'd be pushed more towards pop, but I'm glad to say that there were a few good rock tracks in the set, especially a track called "Run" caught my attention as being particulary good.
It was weird to see all these Hanna-"fans" in the audience who actually didn't seem to care that she was onstage, performing songs and generally there for them to see. They seemed to be more interested in securing their place in the autograph queue, which started to form to the side of the area during her set. Most of the kids were running around, and basically ignoring the "star"! The fact that most of the songs were unfamiliar to the audience didn't exactly help. Her number one hit, the latter-day Bon Jovi-like ballad "Love Is Like A Song" did stop them for a while, just like the two Bryan Adams-tunes she sang in the competition, "Heaven" and "Summer Of '69".
After the set and a brief interiew on stage Hanna handed out some postcards and signed a few autographs, but not nearly as many as the youngsters would have wanted to. Frankly, she could've spend a few more minutes with the kids...I also thought it was rather lame that she didn't accept any of the gifts personally, it would have meant the world to some of those children.
Photos & review by Kimmo Toivonen
Special thanks to Sirpa Sillanpää, who got us the backstage passes and provided us a place to stay for the night. I also have to congratulate her on her good work as the host of the show and the "artist contact person", both tasks that she was given only a few hours before showtime!