Concerts Music

Rammstein concert in Riga. Review.

This review should have had the title “Rammstein concert in Tallinn”. 2 weeks ago, I had everything planned and arranged to go to the Estonian capital when suddenly a stomach flu left me spilling my guts out, and totally destroyed the chances to go anywhere (and not only me, the virus affected to half of my job mates at the office).

Luckily, the Germans were playing 1 week later in Riga, relatively close from Tartu, and I convinced my Finnish friend Ilkka to come from Helsinki and drive to our destination of glory and rock.


Rammstein must have been on the top 3 of the bands that I still had never had the chance to check live and really wanted, so it was worth the effort; although I cannot really thank the promoters from BDG-FBI. They procrastinated in answering my emails, and gently denied me any press ticket, apart from not answering anything when I proposed farther collaboration for reviewing their events. How many publications do you have in English focused on culture and entertainment in the Baltics? I suppose that it must be more rewarding to sit all day at the office checking Facebook and Orkut than trying to do a good work. But well… if I start to talk about incompetent people in promoting and events management positions in Finland or Estonia, I would never reach to the point of talking about the concert….

Arriving in Riga became a little odyssey due to the heavy snow falling. After 3 hours of driving from Tartu, we encountered traffic jams everywhere, a lot of police and ambulances running from one place to another, and 4 or 5 small car accidents around the Latvian capital. The city seemed to be receiving a summit from the World Bank instead of a rock concert. Some of my Estonian job mates mentioned later that the car accidents were due to them being 6-toed Latvians, but I will remain impartial about the sticky subject ;)

But what it is true is that the organization of the concert in Latvia was awful. We encountered another more annoying queue for accessing the parking or Riga Arena, which turned to be full. Luckily, driving a few hundred meters away, a friendly Russian guy left us parked in his parking for just 2 Lats. We did not have Latvian cash, so gave him 5 euro. The E-Tickets that I had pursued in Internet worked (thanks god) and then I encountered the longest queue for a male toilet that I have ever seen in my life. So I decided my kidneys should have to wait until the end of the gig. With the traffic jams, we missed the first band, so accessed directly to see Rammstein show in an ultra packed standing up area of the arena. And when I say packed, I mean packed. Organizers again fucked it big time. There should have been easily at least 200 tickets less sold out there. We were at the bottom, very far from the stage, and we already could hardly move, a situation that I had experienced before just when being near the first row close to the stage. It is a miracle that not more people got into fights there or fainted. Chaotic!

Rammstein Till

The concert started with Rammlied, but being honest, the first 4-5 songs were closer to a nightmare than being a joyful event. I was literally feeling like a sardine in a box and very far from the stage with no chance to advance or move. Not helping that the old Murphy´s Law about taller guys always standing in front of you in a concert, and me being not the tallest in the world, made me literally almost break my neck to try to see something of what was going on stage. Latvian guys for your information are not the shortest of the world, so it does not help when you have a fucking basketball team in front of you.

The cherry on top of the cake is that there were no screens on the sides of the stage. For a band with the category that Rammstein has, and with tickets whose price started at 50 euro, a small fortune in Estonia or Latvia, I did not understand this either. What is the point to create amazing pyrotechnic effects on stage when half of the audience is not going to be able to see a shit if they are not in the first rows or in the seating places?

Luckily and wisely, we moved to one side that was a little less packed, and enjoyed some of my favorite tunes like Keine Lust! or Weisses Fleisch. The middle part of the concert was a bit boring from my point of view, it always happens the same when a band I like releases a new album, I always think that they should not play so many of the new songs. For example, Frühling in Paris could have perfectly been erased from the setlist, while it was an absolute pity than songs like Spielt Mein Klavier, Du Riechst so Gut or Azche zu Azche were missed.

Undobutedly, the end of the concert was the best, with amazing tunes like Links 1-2-3, the unavoidable and always awesome Du Hast and the catchy Pussy. A great end that was followed up by an encore with Sonne, the surprising Haifisch (I was not expecting the keyboardist “Flake” surfing the audience on the inflatable boat with this one, but with the classic Seamann, which I think would have been still much better, and Ich Will for closing the first encore.

While it seemed that everything would be over, and more than 1 person in the audience started to exit, the band still gave an amazing present performing a second mini-encore with Engel, with a huge and beautiful white angel on flames displayed on the stage, that finished the show; a great end for a concert that left me a bitter sweet taste due to the chaotic organization.

Concerts Music

Swedish Backyard Barbies at Tavastia

The popular Swedish rock band will play at Tavastia Club in Helsinki the 23rd of January.
For more information and buying tickets for the show, visit:

Concerts Music

You do not mess with Texas! – Radar´s gig at Semifinal – Helsinki.

{mosimage}Power to the music with (almost) no words. This evening we celebrate the post-metal/post-rock universe with a local offering and a more established name in a genre that many music critics have already defined as a dead branch. Despite its small dimensions, Semifinal is sold out for a show that is extremely anticipated by the crowd that has invaded the venue. 



The opening is performed by Radar, a Helsinki band which mixes Callisto’s True Nature Unfolds-period with the intricate sonic plots of Cult of Luna. Anguishing atmospheres are accompanied by desperate growls, while monolithic riffs destroy every attempt of resistance from the listeners: the five tracks are performed in thirty minutes of engaging music, most of it sampled from the latest album Remoras.

“We came straight from Texas”: these are the only words we’ll hear from This Will Destroy You during the whole show before the thanks at the end. The American quartet takes position on the stage and starts a performance in which melodies and distortions are tightly intertwined for the joy of the post-rock adulators. Every sonic layer is incorporated in an effective fashion, while taking time to let passages mature to their full potential, often lingering reflectively when necessary. While still crafting their tracks according to the post-rock formula, the band has replaced predictable and massive build-ups with dynamics enriched with different effects and sprinkles of electronic music.




The two guitarists provide an interesting opposite approach, mixing more ambient sounds with aggressive, razor-sharp riffs while drummer and bass player are backing them up with twists and injections of adrenaline. The end result is one hour of pure ecstasy for the devotees of elegantly complex music trajectories where both albums have a say in the show.    The sound goes off and the lights are on for the conclusion of a sonic experience that has accompanied, entertained and delighted the enthusiastic crowd. And we leave Semifinal with the hope in our hearts to cross again the path of the Texan band.


Photos by Alessandro Bonetti and Radar`s MySpace official site.

For more information about the band, you can visit:


Concerts Music

The magic flute is living in the present – Jethro Tull concert at Helsinki Kulttuuri Talo

{mosimage}Just more than a band, a truly rock living legend, visited Finland to offer two excellent shows in Tampere and Helsinki during their 40th anniversary Tour. FREE! Magazine was in the show at the Finnish capital to check how Ian Anderson and company sounded there!



years is something that not many bands achieve. Fortunately, Jethro Tull is still alive and kicking ass! Probably the survival is due to the charisma of the only original component that remains, Ian Anderson. Nevertheless, he is the one who pulls the creative strings of the band, so it would have not been the same if Jethro Tull had ever lost him, and then basically, it would not be Jethro Tull anymore. Anderson himself joked during the concert about the continuous changes in the band formation, when introducing their “seventh” bass player David Goodier.

But before, a little adventure to arrive to the show on time…

I did not know if I would get the press ticket until a few minutes before the show, where happily I could see that LiveNation had positively attended my pledges. I was at that moment in the middle of nowhere in Espoo staying at a friend´s house, so after an odyssey through the “deep Helsinki big area”, and getting also lost in Kallio, I finally made it to Kulttuuri talo building. I had not been there since Yngwee Malmsteem´s concert, and the truth is that is not the best place in Helsinki to watch a concert. The acoustic is awful, and the organization places the fence 10 metres from the stage, losing much of the feeling of getting close to the artists.




During the evening, I saw the best and the worst of Finnish nature. On one hand, people were nice and helpful to help me find the venue, in the end I walked with another guy who was also assisting to the concert. On the other hand, the kind of things that break my nerves about Finland and their “squared minded” organization: the entrance to the hall was forbidden if you were wearing a jacket, but when you had to leave it in the wardrobe, you had to pay in cash, and it happened I did not have any in my pocket. With the concert about to start, finally they made an exception and I did not pay, but the girl on charge did not forget to remind me that “I had to pay next time”. Please…if any organizer reads this, when will they realize that the wardrobe should be included with the general price of the ticket? And what if I feel cold and I want to wear my jacket inside the venue, is that a sin? Finland and its rules…  a never ending story.


Nevertheless, I finally made it in, and after a short delay Anderson and his British fellows appeared on stage. The flutist with his unmistakable handkerchief on his head attacked the notes of Crossed-Eyed Mary and continued with a good collection of the greatest hits of the band though their long history:  Beggar´s Farm, A Song for a Cuckoo, Farm on the Freeway, the acoustic King Henry´s Madrigal or the amazing Song for Jeffrey were some of the songs played, with Anderson cheerful, joking with the audience and introducing every song with a little history, apart from showing his virtuoso talent in solos with the flute, long but not tedious. He also joked about the Grammy Award they got years ago as best metal band, telling that of course they are not a metal band. Somebody from the audience quickly answered the famous sentence “The flute is a heavy metal instrument” that appeared in Billboard magazine.

{mosimage}The concert was divided into two parts, with a break of around 20 minutes in the middle. I must confess I do not like breaks in concerts, but well, this gives a good chance to the Finnish audience to go for a pint of beer meanwhile and chit chat a bit. Back on stage, the band continued with his good arts playing more anthems like the always awesome Thick as a Brick or Aqualung to end up with Locomotive Breath.

All in all, just a great concert that shows how old rockers never die. The audience was not wild, but silently enjoying, like sharing something magical and special that you cannot feel every other day. Older and younger people mixed;  fans of all ages with the band´s t shirts on just on a kind of mystical trance, moving their feet at the rhythm of Anderson´s diabolical flute.  Let´s see if they continue as good as now for the 50th anniversary tour in 10 years!  

Concerts Music

El monstruo magnético

This is the review of a concert that happened two a half years late. In the spring of 2006, Monster Magnet was scheduled to play at Tavastia. The concert was sold out, but it got cancelled. Band leader Dave Wyndorf suffered an overdose of sleeping pills and the whole tour was cancelled. Monster Magnet enters into a short hiatus that ends with the release of the album 4-Way Diablo in 2007. This autumn the band is back on the road.

There is a certain feeling that Monster Magnet needs to reconnect with the audience. And the best way to do it is to offer a setlist full of the hardest kick-ass songs in the repertoire. Therefore the show starts with a the terrific triple punch: Dopes to Infinity, Crop Circle and Powertrip. The band sounds strong, delivering all the ingredients of its charismatic drug rock: dense guitars, heavy rhythm section, a touch of psychedelia and excellent melodies. They channel the classic hard rock of Hawkwind, Grand Funk Railroad and Cream into the 21st century.

Wyndorf has put on a few kilos, but still he is an excellent frontman. His voce is in good shape and he looks healthy, although during the solos he often abandons himself to the back of the stage, next to the drum kit.

The show continues in the same terms. The band shows its most hard rocking side. There is not much time for the smooth acid sounds. Perhaps that is the reason why the setlist does not include any songs from 4-Way Diablo. Indeed, it is an odd choice to ignore the latest release. The encore, of course, is for the unsettling craziness of Spine of God.

Despite the band’s efforts, the night is a bit cold. Sunday might not be the best day for the Monster Manget service and the venue is half empty. It was even more empty during the opening acts. It is a shame that the audience did not enjoy the good sets by Nebula and Pligrim Fathers. The first, formed by ex Fu Manchu Eddie Glass, is an excellent power trio, while the second is an interesting young band from UK of heavy and loud psych rock.





Photos by Eduardo Alonso

Concerts Music

The Canadian wolf howls in Suomi

{mosimage}The first wintery evening in Helsinki might have stopped the meeting of the indie-kids tonight at Tavastia but the call of Wolf Parade is too strong to resist. The Canadian band has never hidden its love for the Finnish capital being the third time in four years they play over here and the fans have repaid them with a sold-out show. 


The opening act is Joensuu 1685, an intriguing local band which plays psychedelic rock with shoegaze shades. With a debut album just released and the blessing of Wolf Parade (during the concert the Canadian quartet expresses the appreciation for them) the future looks bright. After a small break the North American group comes on stage without the sound manipulator Hadji Bakara busy pursuing his doctoral studies home. His absence is reflected in the live sound that looses a bit its noisy cut, one of the trademarks of the band.

After a slow start (despite the always splendid You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son) the four-piece finally fires all its potential with a handful of tracks from the previous album Apologies To The Queen Mary for the joy of an ecstatic audience. The voices of Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug are alternated in a highly synchronized fashion while the bass of DeCaro and the drumming of Thompson are playing a very important role in building the sonic plots. {mosimage}The energetic potential released by Dan is devastating: during the set his possessed moves are going hand in hand with the accumulation of positive tension. In such an entertaining atmosphere the less immediate but otherwise fascinating tracks extracted from the recent At Mount Zoomer are making a very good impact.

After more than an hour of conversations with the audience, fulfilled requests and instrumental digressions it’s time for the encore that stirs the stalls around the stage. Outside the cold air is waiting but this time our hearts and legs have been warmed up by a sumptuous show. After three years from the previous excellent gig the Wolves have crafted another outstanding concert.


Photos by Alessandro Bonetti and Wold Parade`s MySpace official site.

Concerts Music

Rocking for the children of tomorrow

{mosimage}The Germans Scorpions were visiting Tallinn, the Estonian capital, last week end during their Humanity Tour. After having missed them last summer in Tampere, I was not going to let this opportunity pass. So there I headed, being present not only in the show but also at the press conference 1 day before to bring you the last information from these veteran but spiritually youthful rockers! 



he appointment for the press conference is at the sixth floor o Swissotel, a luxurious new resort  in the centre of Tallinn. The room is, as I expected, not much crowded, and after half an hour of delay the German band finally appears, wearing sunglasses and responding to the cold attitude of the shy Estonian journalists with good doses of humor. Vocalist Klaus Maine pinpoints how surprise they are about how fast Tallinn is changing, full of new modern buildings, while guitarist Rudolf Schenker makes clear that with their last album the band tries to come back to their roots and essence. These both are undoubtedly the ones leading the show, while the other members of the band keep silence most of the time, with just some opinions of Matthias Jabs sporadically. When an Estonian journalist makes the mistake to ask them which is the most stupid question they have ever been asked, the band answers immediately “This one!!!”.


{mosimage}Of course, being Scorpions a band that has written basically the unofficial anthem for the end of cold war: Wind of Change, it is normal that the Estonians ask them about their opinions of political happenings nowadays, and if they are thinking to write a “second” Wind of Change. As Klaus explains “we just reflect the world around us. We played in South America, in Tonga, in Siberia… and then we put all the impressions into songs”.



They also seem to be pleased to recall a visit to a small village in the middle of Amazonia, 2 hours from the city of Manaos in Brasil “There were like 35 people there, and they played their tribal music for us. Of course they had no idea who we were. Then they asked us to play something for us and we played Wind of Change for them. It was very emotive” said Schenker and Meine.



Breaking the routine was also a repeated topic during the conference. No wonder then that this tour will have a bit of everything, with concerts played with an orchestra like in Riga and Vilnius, or an acoustic show in Estoril (Portugal) “It is fantastic to play with an orchestra. Also very demanding due to the planning, having two different conductors in those two concerts. It was 1 year ago the last time we played with an orchestra, and we wanted to do it again, but of course we cannot do it very often” answered Klaus. Rudolf Schenker also explained that in Estoril they are expecting some musicians from Brazil to join them and play together, including Sepultura´s  musician Andreas Kisser, who already joined them during some gigs in his native country.

The band also remembered some good moments in the past like their shows decades in Russia at The Peace Festival in Moscow and the re-encounter in Tampere last summer after so many years with Sebastian Bach, who was also one of the stars of that festival in Russia with his band Skid Row. There was no more time for questions, and it seems that they were in a hurry to leave the conference room, so unfortunately no much time for pictures or chatting more with them. It was time to wait for the next day to see their live show, but before leaving Klaus promised that they were ready to rock the foundations of the Estonian capital.



The concert took place at Saku Arena. A venue almost fully packed, with those people, the “children of tomorrow” turned into the adults of today who were anxious to see the Germans in action. Scorpions are not only much beloved in Russia, but also in the Baltic countries. When they jumped on stage, it was amazing to see their vitality, especially Rudolf Schenker jumping and running from one side to the other (I had him basically 10 centimeters away from me during the first songs, because I was placed in the photographs VIP area, the closest to the stage, and he almost stepped on my fingers…).  The band mixed wisely some of the classics like Bad boys Running Wild, Blackout, Send me an Angel or Holiday with the newest ones, which sometimes received a colder response from the audience, although personally I liked Humanity, a song that sounds very “Scorpions” and fits very well in the setlist. Obviously the most emotive moment of the night was when Schenker started to scratch gently the acoustic guitar for extracting the first riffs of Wind of Change, massively sang by the Estonian audience. Klaus showed that he is still in excellent shape as lead vocalist, and the band put the cherry on top of the cake in the encore with some more classics like Still Loving you or the final explosion of Rock You like a Hurricane.

As Klaus Meine announced in the press conference: “in the end it is about music, to play old and new material to entertain people”. And certainly Scorpions accomplished the mission, stating why they are one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

Photos by Antonio Díaz and Merle Ruubel.

Concerts Music

Mariza – the bewitching diva of destiny

{mosimage} Many countries and cultures have their dark side expressed musically that mirrors people’s sorrow and suffering. USA has its blues and old country, Argentina and Finland their tango, minorities such as some Sámi joiking or women keening at funerals. 


Portugal has fado – which as Mariza explained at her Helsinki concert (11 October) at Finlandia Hall means destiny. However, one of her songs Meu Fado Meu does not make it clear if it will be happy or sad, good or bad, or perhaps all and more. It was the ideal setting for anyone who has had sad news such as the untimely death of a recent romance (saudade – see below). This was reflected in the sixth number: Beijo de saudade  recalling a lost lover. Off her latest album, it was sung with Tito Paris, a Cape Verdian, and clearly harks from the West African islands' own form of desperation: the morna.  

Small and slim – she looks much taller due to her slender form and full-length black dress and arm stockings – the only colour is supplied by her hair and narrow hoops of ribbon on the garment. 

Straightaway the first few songs are sad, soul-searing and full of excruciating loss – it isn’t necessary to understand Portuguese to get the meaning as they are all delivered with total intensity, passion and utter involvement. She almost pleads with the audience to share her angst, pain and even tears. The song Tasco de Mouraria, recalls her parents’ bar when she was only five years old and the catalyst to become a singer in the eponymous Lisboa district, had teardrops filling her eyes reminiscing a childhood lost that can be only remembered, but never re-lived. Honestly portrayed and conveyed. 

As the dark clouds gather for a series of inevitably bad conclusions, the lyrics are wrung out in loud notes, long piercing soft monotones or a soulful, lilting voice. This is all combined with facial expressions, serpentine hand gestures and, of course, the eyes that glittered, glistened and glowed according to the situation being sung demanded. 


A good example was Barco Negro which had a haunting percussion-only backed opening lament, which floats the listener down into the depths of the inner self, before suddenly lightening up in the middle, only to finish with another series of frighteningly worrisome notes and ending with a violent stormy crescendo.  

The backing musicians were all in tandem and equally talented, playing wooden guitars, piano and brass trumpet plus a drummer that used his hands as much as a range of sticks. They all plucked, blew and struck without sheet music – except the horizontal hand-held bassman (viola baixo). However, all was revealed by Mariza later that in fact it was where he kept his watch for some reason! She spoke a lot, mainly in English, introduced the musicians several times illustrating their harmonious rapport and gave short explanations of fado, some songs and about her life and philosophy – sometimes witty, often serious. 

But it was not all pure doom and gloom in a melancholic melodic setting. After the instrumental guitarrida (which the audience was taught to say en masse), the remaining songs became lighter in mood, even joyful at times. The last song, a Mariza favourite Primavera returns to the theme of loss and hopelessness, a Gibraltarian afficionada informs.  

Two encores followed: the first featured the Portuguese and six-string guitarists with herself – but unplugged with all three singing, assumedly, a traditional folk song. It proved that despite their stature, the sound system could have been dispensed with. The third, obviously unplanned, encore after a visible weakening on stage to the audience’s entreaties, was back to routine, but with everyone invited to stand up and dance along. 

{mosimage}By the end, most had realized they had been taken down a path where introspective Finns rarely go willingly – unless led by someone who knows what they are doing. Mariza is an artiste who does not hold back one iota, and as such the on-looker is dragged through a gamut of emotions that ends up with a flickering message of hope – perhaps to recapture that amora perdida or its mere memory. It’s a soul-searching emotion-jangling experience for all concerned. Fado is a darkish genre with a now-bright future with the youthful Mariza as its message-bearer for a long time to come. 

Mariza dos Reis Nunes – vocals

Diogo Clemente – classical guitar

Ângelo Freire – Portuguese guitar

Marino de Freitas – Portuguese bass guitar

Hugo Marques – percussion

Simon Wadsworth – piano, trumpet & synthesiser 

CDs: Fado em Mim (2002); Fado Curvo (2003); Transparente (2005) & Terra (2008). DVDs: Live in London (2005) & Concerto em Lisboa 

Fado can mean destiny or fate and derives from 1820s Portugal. It is mournful, but follows a set pattern and full of saudade – pining for something or someone such as a lost love. It plucks at the heart strings and is not for the weak-hearted or strong-willed. There are two forms: the Lisboã and Coimbra – the latter based round the university that had many Brazilian students and their modinhas songs. Fado always has a Portuguese guitar, but the Coimbra style has male singers only dressed traditionally in academic garb (traje académico). The Lisboã districts of Mouraria and Alfama, Bairro Aalto and Madragoa (bairros típicos) still have their casas de fados where the dimly-lit streets and alleys echo to dark strains of emotional suffering.


Concerts Music

A man and a guitar

A few weeks ago, a true American hero visited Finland. Kris Kristofferson played two breathtaking shows in Helsinki and Tampere. His visit went a little bit unnoticed, especially in Tampere, where the venue was half empty. There was not much hype around these shows. With the same modesty, Kristofferson came to the stage. Dressed in black, alone with his acoustic guitar, he sang for two hours a collection of unforgettable songs, chronicling his forty year long career.


In 2006, the 72 year old singer-songwriter and actor revamped his musical career and published This Old Road, his first album of new original songs in eleven years. The album receive good reviews and since then Kristofferson has regularly toured to support it.

During the concert at Tampere-talo, the partner in crime of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson presented a good bunch of songs from This Old Road. The theme of those songs is retrospective and reflective. They are the songs of aging man looking at the important things of life. Songs about the war (In The News) and songs about those that are long gone (Final Attraction). The acoustic format benefit this song and Kristofferson’s aged voice underlines its meaning.

Once Billy the Kid in Sam Peckinpah’s memorable Western, the singer has not softened his social conscience and several times through the show he threw some lines bashing George Bush between the long list of songs that he played. The show was divided into two sets and it included more than 25 songs. Kristofferson played classics like Me and Bobby McGee and Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down and outlaw country songs such as Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down, Casey’s Last Ride and The Silver Tongued Devil and I.

It was a thrilling night to listen to a masterful songwriter in such an intimate performance. A night of fascinating stories about god, the devil, murder and love that brought a little bit of dust to Tampere.

Photos by Eduardo Alonso

Concerts Music

Into the gutter

The Gutter Twins, that is Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan, finally arrived in Helsinki last week to present their first release, Saturnalia. They hit the stage in Tavastia almost two years after Dulli’s band, The Twilight Singers, did it, also with Lanegan as a special guest sitting in several songs. At that time, the band had a fantastic time in Finland. They did some studio recording at the Seawolf Studios in Suomenlinna for the EP A Stich in Time and their show in Tavastia was epic, with Greg Dulli having a real good time, drinking a lot of wine and partying as anyone else in a full house.

{mosimage}Two years later, the story is repeated with a different title. The band is similar to the Twilight Singers line-up of 2006. But now they are The Gutter Twins and they have a new record to support. Therefore it was to be expected that the show’s setlist would relay heavily on Saturnalia and so it did. It also included some covers and songs from their former bands.

Both frontmen took their expected role. As usual, not saying a word, Lanegan stood still holding the mic stand, just letting his deep voice sing. Dulli played guitar, piano and talked to the audience. He showed his emotions while Lanegan hid them behind the lights.

The show started like the album, with the guitar notes of The Stations building up the song and the mood for the whole show. A mood that drifts from the film-like atmosphere decorated with electronic loops to sharp and aggressive guitars, underlined by Lanegan's voice.

Apart of songs from Saturnalia, the Twins played a set of interesting covers, including José González’s Down the Line and Flow Like a River, a heartfelt tribute to Eleven’s keyboard player Natasha Shneider, who recently passed away. They also played Primal Scream’s Deep Hit of Morning Sun, a cover that will be included in the band’s next ep Adorata, to be released soon. Dulli and Lanegan bring these covers to their territory and the songs flow seamlessly in the set.

One of the highlights of the show was Screaming Tree’s rare single Change Has Come. The song was very well received by the audience. It came to show how much Lanegan’s old band is missed.

On paper it looks like it was a very good concert. It was, but it was not excellent, especially not compared to the Twilight Singers show in 2006, which Greg Dulli himself also remembered as a great night. This time, Dulli did not seem to be very much into the show. The former Afghan Whigs’ leader did not seem to be having such a good time. Perhaps it was the effect of the jet lag and the beginning of the European leg of the tour (Helsinki was the first stop). Or perhaps it was the smoke-free venue. Or the lack of drinks on stage. To the big surprise of keyboardist / guitar player Jeff Klein, Dulli told the band to leave the stage one song earlier that it was planned in the written setlist, not playing the planned set closer Front Street.

However, a 25-minute encore followed and it was excellent, although it was almost cut short when someone from the audience threw a plastic glass to the stage that almost hit Dulli. As it can be seen in youtube, after a touching rendition of Shadow of the Season, Dulli said that the band would not played any longer until the person who threw the glass would apologize. Either that or the audience should sing Finland’s national anthem. That is what happened in the end. It was surreal.

The encore included two songs from Lanegan’s latest solo album Bubblegum that took the show one step up. Number Nine, the ballad that perfectly blends Lanegan and Dulli’s voices, was a beautiful end for the night. It was a very high point in the show and a real pity that it did not continue. The moment felt interrupted. But what a great moment.



Concerts Music

Iron Maiden at the Stadium

{mosimage}Having sold out the Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium’s 44,000 tickets in minutes (Tampere’s 26,000 took longer), it goes without saying that this British band is popular in Finland. Their heavy rock/light metal mix has not only an adoring audience here, but one that transcends generations to the point where parents go to the same concerts with sons and daughters. 

Many may have thought the youthful contingent was noticed by singer Bruce Dickinson when thanking the audience, he noted that “We're gonna play songs from the past 25 years tonight and from the looks of it, many of you weren't even born then!” However, he apparently says that every time. It seems time has marched on and been noticed. Still a good time was guaranteed to be had by the Iron Maiden heads and after all these years (decades in fact), the sextet know how to work a crowd: stoking the mass up into a synchronised choral frenzy with arms pointing skywards in unison when it seemed to flag with another golden oldie supported by stage antics.



And Finns are able to have a good time without being filled up (though many had obviously whetted their whistles before entry judging by the  rubbish tip outside). This virtuous patience was illustrated by a full house at Pori Jazz years ago patiently waiting an hour while James Brown had his cup of tea backstage and readied himself for the exertions ahead. 

For nearly two hours on stage, Iron Maiden rolled out their composition compendium, blasted out by walls of speakers with the stage flanked by two huge screens. Unfortunately, in parts the sound system went wonky as guitar riffs clashed with the laws of electronics, which spoilt the result occasionally, if not the enjoyment. No such criticism could be aimed at the singer: BD’s voice has held up despite the years of over-exertion – unlike some aged screamers whose chords have cracked at high pitch in Helsinki in the last couple of years. He belted out every note, not one missed or compromised. In addition to the full-on singing he leapt about the stage impressively in a variety of uniforms ranging from British Boer War soldier waving a Union Jack to voodoo witchdoctor according to the number. 

The other band members, bassist and founder Steve Harris plus guitarists Janick Gers, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray – all hair and tattoos aplenty, no beards though – went through their paces in time-trusted fashion, finger dexterity on display with each able to have a small solo, though not the drummer Nicko McBrain. Possibly this was his punishment for not living up to a promise to buy the whole stadium a drink. He was hidden by what was possibly the world’s largest drum kit and had to stand to be seen and had a separate camera inside his percussion castle. 

{mosimage}As sweat rolled down off and on the stage, BD led the way and was soaked after the first three songs: Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight and The Trooper. Fortunately, the enclosure in front of the stage was watered regularly as the security defied their appearance to gently hand out paper cups of thirst-quenching liquid. It’s hard work playing and enjoying a good live rock gig and it’s good to see everyone wanting to give and get their money’s worth. 

Unusually for these large open air shows, the stage scenery changed too from ancient Egyptian spirits to a thing that looked like the “Creature from the Deep” (aka Eddie the Head) to a 5-metre tall skinless cyberman that moved around the stage briefly. This was something those who left before the encore missed.  So after Fear of the dark, Rime of The Ancient Mariner (before which a large seagull flew timely around above the audience, BD is talismanic too it seems), Wasted years and so on, everyone left for a bar to talk about seeing rock legends alive. Many no doubt were looking forward to Tampere the next day…… 

Photos: Eduardo Alonso

Concerts Music

The Three Shy Guys

The sun was still shining and warming up the night as I entered a little bit before eight to Helsingin kulttuuritalo on Monday 28.4.08. Time to see Death Vessel and Jose Gonzalez on live.  

{mosimage}The artists had requested that there’d be just seats, no standing in tonight’s concert. To open up the night was Death Vessel from New York, who is neotraditional folk/pop/root music was familiar to me from the album Stay Close (2005). This soft, naïve, soothing music, similar to the group Lavender Diamond had really gotten to me. To see him appear on stage with his long, almost black long hair down to his waist, well formed arms and a such a masculine air around him was quite not what I had been expecting as I had never seen a photo of him. From far a way he could easily have been mistaken for Patti Smith. Acoustic guitar and a rock pose. I felt a little bit confused, wondering first if there had been some last minute changes. But then his familiar voice filled the room as he opened up the night with the beautiful Deep in the Horchada with his high soprano voice sounding at times almost prepubescent.  

I later found out that Death Vessel was Joel Thibodeau, who was born in Berlin and was now living in Brooklyn, New York. He had toured with groups like Iron &Wine and Low. And now he was on tour around Europe with Jose Gonzalez. The gig in Helsinki was the 24th on their tour together and last one for him. He was returning to New York on the next day. His appearance on the stage was shy and the comments between the songs quiet and short, keeping the contact with the audience to the minimum. But as I expected from my earlier experience with his music, his voice was truly amazing, bringing happy and light folky tunes to the audience who was taking it all in! He did a cover of the song Dont laugh originally by the Louvin Brothers (an american roots duet, known for their song The Christian Life, that the Byrds recorded for their release Sweetheart of the Rodeo). He finished his too short set powerfully with the song Blowing Cave.    

After what seemed like a too long pause between the sets, the audience nervously waiting, finally at 21.10 the lights dim to receive the star of the night: Jose Gonzalez. The light showed as this shy young man behind his Spanish guitar entered onto the big stage, lit only by one spotlight creating an image of a moon rising behind him and soon the repetitive riffs and his hypnotizing voice filled the room. He started with Storm and continued with Hints from his first album Veneer (2003). He quietly passed from one song to another, his head down, hiding behind his guitar, trying to get enough courage. He continued with Stay in the shade and then playing songs from the new album In our Nature (2007) How Low, In our nature and The nest. He explained quietly the story of this song, how little children are making a nest, but they forget to make windows and doors, and how it goes from joy to the darkness. He has said that he likes to play with symbolism and wants to bring out the primitive aspects of human beings.  


5 years ago, this now 29-year old man was educating himself to become a researcher in biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg. He had been playing in some hardcore punk before starting as a solo artist. His interest in the Spanish guitar and the folk music come from his roots. His parents exiled from Argentina to Sweden  in 1978, the same year when he was born. At home they listened to Latin American classics like Silvio Rodriguez or João Gilberto.  In the next songs Remain and Down the line, Eric Bodin and Yukimi Nagamo joined to play the minimalist percussions, basic keyboard and to sing the backing up vocals. But there was no doubt that was the star of the night.

Between songs Jose Gonzalez made some small shy comments in Finnish, but most of the time he kept his head introvertidly down to the guitar, playing, as figures familiar from his album art passed behind him on a projection – a horse, pine trees moving on a track, a monkey, a guitar string vibrating, all with saturated colors creating a dreamlike atmosphere that hypnotized the audience. After one hour and a half and 16 great songs it was down to the last one, Teardrop, a cover of Massive Attack song. The audience requested more and was awarded with four more songs. The only song that he didn’t play was the one song that made him famous worldwide: Heartbeats and truth is that after the great performance we didn’t miss it either. 


And like that would not have been enough, then to finish off the night I headed to Kuudes Linja for the concert of Phosphorescent, the solo project of Matthew Houck, an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. To date, Houk has released three full-length albums under the Phosphorescent moniker: Pride (2007), Aw Come (2005), A Hundred Times or More (2003).  It was around midnight, when from the darkness emerged a figure behind his guitar sampling his voice on many different layers, with distorted guitar, cords and feedback creating a sonic wall to break with all that was before to begin from zero making space for his own melodies. With his shy voice and just the sound of his acoustic guitar he sang about love, relationships, dead hearts and hope. He recreated some of the songs from his last two albums, like I am a full grown man and Joe Tex, these goddamn taming blues are killing me . Like an anecdote to finish this concert he did a great cover of Dire Straits song So far away, that he had seen on the television in his hotel room the night before.  What more can you ask for a Monday night in Helsinki!!!  

Photos: Andrés Ahuir.  

Concerts Music

Drums and Guns

Days before the gig, the sun was shining in the capital, probably as a prelude to the great gig Low was going to perform in support of their latest album, Drums and Guns. It was a Saturday, and at the break of dawn it was already rainy and foggy. The gig was supposed to be beautiful, and charming, but also unavoidably sad and melancholic.



Rather than simply going through new material, Low played many old tracks. (Say whole it's almost impossible due to the vast of it). Upon listening to the new album you would expect more electronic tunes throughout the night, but they seemed to play more pop than ever, staying loyal to their roots and absolutely no one in the hall could complain. Low had an impressive start with, Death of a Sales Man! They touched the latest album with, In silence, in the third song.

They were getting bigger and bigger on stage.  It was amazing to see how only three people could fill such a huge place. Nothing else needed. Just Low. The feeling grew and grew while they were going through the night. Three people captivating hundreds of people.  It didn't matter much if Alan broke the strings of his guitar a couple of songs before the end their main performance. It was beautiful to see him and Mimi talking. They were both surprised to see how great the night was slowly turning into, and how many small things made the event even bigger.

After the obligatory first visit to the backstage they still came back to delight us with three more songs. They thought they were putting a perfect end to the night with, Sandanista. Nevertheless, going for a second time backstage, the people didn't agree, and wanted more!  So Alan, Mimi and Matt had to comeback, and thank God they did, because they likely played the best song of the night with Soon , and one they feels so intimate moments that remain deep in your body, where almost no one can reach. 

Then it was time to go, not sure with the sights up or down, but with shining sights nevertheless. A great gig that won't be mentioned anywhere, but one that will most certainly stay in everyone’s heart and mind. It was surely an amazing night, and one that made the difficult Finnish spring a little bit more bearable.


Photo: Andres Ahuir

Concerts Music

Good glamour

{mosimage}The fact that Good Charlotte lead guitar player Benji Madden arrived in Helsinki with his new girlfriend Paris Hilton nearly took the shine out the Good Charlotte concert scheduled for the evening. Each Paris’ movement in Helsinki was scrutinized by the flocks of local paparazzi, but unfortunately Good Charlotte's concert didn’t get equal amount of attention. 


Huge Helsinki Ice Hall was filled only by one-third. Hard to say why, but it is highly possible that in the country with a very strong heavy metal music scene Good Charlotte music was seen as being too pop. An older man behind me, who perhaps has seen the first Woodstock festival, was grumbling: “These guys play pseudo rock”.  Most of the audience at the Ice Hall consisted of 13-17 year old teenagers. Local warm-up band which showed up on stage at around 8 p.m. wasn’t impressive at all – the guys looked like a school band lost on the huge stage.


Fortunately, their performance lasted only half an hour. While Good Charlotte crew was doing their job tuning up the instruments the Finnish audience showed northern-ice-cold patience and even didn’t try to call for the band to come to the stage. Finally the lights grew dim and the intro was in the air: the sounds of a lullaby grew into thunderstorm-like rock. Flashing green lights helped to raise the audience impatience's and in seconds Good Charlotte guys were on stage. At the very moment it became clear that ear plugs were sold at the Ice Hall entrance not because of too loud music, but because of Good Charlotte fans’ vocal chords strength. When the band members were making their first moves on stage it seemed that the fans’ voice sound wave would destroy the whole building. 


Good Charlotte singer Joel Madden, who recently became a lucky parent of a wonderful daughter together with another US gossip column hero Nicole Richie, has grown a goatee, perhaps trying to look more mature and his identical twin brother Benji was hiding behind the black sunglasses. Interesting enough: did he try to hide the marks of fatigue or was it an attempt to look more like his new girlfriend, always hiding from the pain-in-the-neck photographers under huge dark eyeglasses? At the beginning of the concert Good Charlotte guys were quite stiff and despite the fact the musical performance was as brilliant as usually they really didn’t look to be in the mood. Only Good Charlotte bass player Paul Thomas was obviously having fun on stage. Towards the middle of the concert the brothers started communicating with the crowd.


They made a break between the songs and decided to tell everything they knew about Helsinki and Finland. Also Benji and Joel reminded that they got to know all that only due to the fact that they have good friends in Helsinki – Finnish rock band The 69 Eyes. After this short “commercial break” Good Charlotte kept on performing. They played nearly all songs from their last album Good Morning Revival. One of the songs was introduced quite ambiguously; Benji addressed the audience in quite a strict command tone: Keep your hands off my girl! Indeed, this song has to do a lot with Benji’s recent love affair. Song Where Would We Be was performed in an acoustic version so that everybody could enjoy Joel’s wonderful voice; but that was the only ballad played during the whole concert. All the rest of the time one hit was changed by another, Benji and Joel encouraged the audience to show their emotions, but there was no need in encouragements any more: the sea of hands was running high at the stage and everybody was singing together with Good Charlotte guys. The whole concert lasted for a little bit more than an hour. Right from the Ice Hall most of the band and crew members went to Helsinki night club LUX where Benji was dj-ing for about an hour. On Friday Good Charlotte left for Greece where they continue the tour.  

Photos by Jana Blomqvist.

Concerts Music

Heavy metal lecture

{mosimage}Good Friday meant a night of top quality heavy metal with Phil Anselmo’s Down hitting the stage at Pakkahuone in Tampere.

After Pantera disbanded, Phil Anselmo focus his efforts in his other band Down, a supergroup that includes guitarist Pepper Keenan, of Corrosion of Conformity and Kirk Windstein, of Crowbar, and Pantera’s bass player Rex Brown. Indeed, a strong line-up that with only three released albums since 1991 has become of the most critically acclaimed and popular bands in the metal scene at the moments, especially since last year’s album Down III: Over the Under.

A little bit less than two years after the band’s great performance in June 2006, Down returned to Tampere. Perhaps due to the holiday season, the venue didn’t sell out completely, although it was pretty full and Finnish metalheads wore their best and toughest outfit (although it was strange to spot a Grateful Dead t-shirt). The venue was divided with a small bar that provided the required drinks. Fortunately, the audience was this time more into the show than the drinking.

Instead of an opening act, there was the screening of some music videos. Down chose to displayed some of their heroes and on screen there were clips from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Sabbath among many others. The band indeed does not forget their Southern roots (it was formed in New Orleans).

For two hours, Down delivered a very strong set that really covered its repertoire and the different aspect of its music: heavy riffs, a little bit of moody southern rock, stoner… A very tight performance from the band with Anselmo all over as an excellent frontman.

The band seemed comfortable on stage, telling the audience to enjoy a little weed. Between songs they teased different classics, like Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused or Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It.

Metal cannot get better than this, good songs, good performance, good attitude. Modern, yet classic.