Concerts Music

Concert review: Motley Crüe at Kaisaniemi (Helsinki). 07/06/2012

Legendary American rock band Motley Crüe visited Helsinki and FREE! Magazine had to be there to let you know how it went! Personally, I had a special motivation to see them, because they are basically one of the few big bands I still had not had the chance to review live. They were scheduled to play two years ago at Sonicsphere in Pori, but a huge storm made them cancel the show (a polemic decision, becasue others such as Alice Cooper or Iron Maiden stayed and played, but well, let´s not enter into that).

Motley Crüe

So there I was, two years later, ready to enjoy their show without cancellations in a week where Helsinki had seen 3 days ago another huge event with the Sonicpshere concert happening on Monday, and then this Rockin Helsinki festival organized on thursday. Although being organized on a working day, assistance was pretty good, although not a totally sold out. Also weather turned to be sunny and nice (during the morning it seemed that it would be cloudy and rainy), which helped to keep the spirits up.

Before Motley, a couple of bands to warm up and please the crowd. Honestly I arrived a bit late and paid more atenttion to getting beers in the drinking area than listening to Crashdiet, but during their 40 minutes of show they seemed to entertain the audience and displayed good high energy. They already seem to have a good fanbase in Finland, so all good for the young Swedish band.

After a pause, another Swedish band hit the stage, the quite well known in Finland Hardcore Superstar. I had had the chance to interview them and see their gig in Tampere a few years ago, and once again they did not dissappoint. They seemed pretty comfortable with the audience and enjoying playing in Finland, and although they did not have much time to play, they gave a solid show where of course they could not miss in their setlist classics like Dreaming in a Casket or the ending Don´t Celebrate Sundays.

About the organization of the festival, I had to say that had pros and against. The place is certainly great to organize concerts at Kaisaniemen Puisto, just a few metres away from the main railway station of Helsinki. Super easy to reach by transportation. But although held in a park, basically there was no chance to sit on benches or on the grass, and the queues to order drinks were long beyond exhasperation. Besides, organizing big shows in the centre has another downside: you cannot make any noise after 22:00. If the concert is starting as scheduled, that should not be a problem, but the point is that Motley Crüe entered the stage almost half an hour later than scheduled, at around 20:30. So that means they only played for one hour and a half.

Press pass

And how was the show? Well, I have mixed feelings about it. The beginning was promising, starting with one of my all time favorites Wild Side, with 2 sensual girls on both sides of Vince Neil. But once the show was advancing, I kind of had some moments a feeling that I would not have expected, and it is feeling a little bit bored in some parts of the concert. The setlist was good, and I really felt goosebumps with some classic songs like Dr. Feelgood or Girls, girls, Girls, but I still could not get rid of the feeling that the band was not connecting with the audience and was just there to complete their short setlist and leave. Audience was actually behaving quite cold, maybe cause the sun had set, or maybe cause there was not much of special effects, no fireworks, etc to warm the show. The biggest feature on that side is the classic 360 degree drum set of Tommy Lee turning around during his solo, and the invitation to join to a young female Finnish fan to sit there with him for a few seconds.

I don´t know, maybe I would have enjoyed the show more at an indoors arena with more pyrotechnical effects, or maybe Motley is (expectingly) not as wild as some years ago, with no more Jack Daniels bottles appearing and being drunk magically on stage… It was nice to see them once in a life, but for an audience that pays more than 60 euro for a ticket, enjoying such a short show of 1:30 hours with no encore after they had cancelled their previous visit to Finland felt like too little. I honestly almost enjoyed more watching Hardcore Superstar than the main headliners…

Motley Crüe. Setlist at Kaisaniemen Puisto 2012

Wild Side
Live Wire
Too Fast for Love
Saints of Los Angeles
Shout at the Devil
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
Piece of Your Action
Primal Scream
Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
Drum Solo
Dr. Feelgood
Girls, Girls, Girls
Home Sweet Home
Kickstart My Heart

Antonio's blog Blogs

Stories of the backstage. Press passes are not candies.

From time to time, there is always some friend who knows that I work as editor and freelance journalist and I have the good luck to cover some great gigs and festivals, mainly in Finland, who asks me the same question: “Hey, and could you get me also a free press ticket?”

They tend to forget that press passes are not delivered like candies. Usually you (still) need to work as a journalist. You need to have arranged interviews or reviews of the events, and deliver the content once you assisted. Often you miss the best concerts in the festival while you are making your interviews in the backstage, far from where the action is happening, and for a person having a small publication like I have; many times even the editor in chief will end up with empty hands. Organization can have a limited number of press tickets, the artists themselves decide to give only to the big media, or simply they do not trust on you if they do not know you and you think you are just another of the millions of bloggers around.

Press passes

So no, press passes are not easy to get, they are not just a VIP free invitation delivered to your group of friends. Only a few times you can have the luck to count with a photographer to cover a concert with you, which on the other hand is nice if you go alone to a gig, because otherwise tends to be boring if you do not know anybody around and you are just waiting for your turn to make the interview.

So what can people expect in that mystified media area in the festivals of Finland, behind the fence, where only a few humans can have access under the gaze of the security guys? Well, most of the times… nothing special. Usually the journalist has to pay for the drinks at exactly the same price than outside the media area. Finland is a small country, so people who work in the media industry usually know each other and assist to the same concerts, clubs and parties. So most probably they will have a good time getting drunk together and remembering past battles and anecdotes while you sip your drink in a corner and from time to time they look at you wondering who the hell that foreigner is. On the other hand, if you have friends around, it can be fun. A few advantages is that usually you do not have to wait for long queues at the portable toilets and maybe you can order a drink faster than in the bar outside where the rest of the people queues for eternal minutes. Also if you are lucky, sometimes you can get some free merchandise like a free CD from some band performing.

And no, do not get mistaken again. The press pass that allows you to the media area is not the same than having an all area access pass. So you are not going to be mingling much with the artists, unless that they want to go out and drink with some friends who happen to be journalists or marketing people from their record company.

So as you see, on the other side of the fence, there is not so much glamour as you could expect ;not many wild stories of wild sex with groupies, drugs and tones of booze. That does not mean that sometimes cannot be fun. Artists are usually bored backstage before or after their concerts, so it has happened a few times than after the interview we would enjoy a great conversation and drinks together. I remember having quite too many drinks with the guys of Black Lips long time ago at Provinssirock, or how friendly and gentle Ginger (the leader of The Wildhearts and nowadays part of Michael Monroe´s band) was at the backstage at Rabarock in Estonia as well as how enjoyable was to talk to the Portuguese Moonspell during their visit to Tuska festival in Helsinki some years ago, or how I continued the night partying with the guys of Lovex after their gig in Tammerfest, especially with his great bass player Jason.

But still no, usually if you want crazy stories about rock bands and backstages, you`d better have to read some Neil Strauss´s books to find them. And no, I still will not get a free press pass for you!

Cinema DVD Features

Movie review: The Guard

Through all the cinema history we have seen all kind of unconventional policemen, many of them with Irish roots doing their job in America (remember as an example the unforgettable Sean Connery in The Untouchables). But not so many of these Irish characters are actually portrayed while working in their native Ireland.

The Guard

In that beautiful country is where director John Michael McDonagh sets up the action with a superb Brendan Gleeson as main character and soul of the movie. Don Cheadle teams up with him as the uptight FBI agent whose mission is to arrest a gang of dangerous Irish drug dealers, but it is undoubtedly Gleeson who gives some of the best moments in the film, with some exhilarating scenes like the dialogues with the IRA member when he goes to pick back the guns or one of the criminals who is waiting for him at his home to finish him.

More than the average easy jokes with a tandem of white-black policemen, here what you find is a witty and subtle sense of humor, a very Irish way of making fun of themselves while at the same time standing proud of their country, language and traditions. Maybe it is not the mainstream entertainment that many spectators are looking for, and I would also criticize that a powerful actor like Mark Strong is pretty much wasted in his secondary role when it would have been delicious to see him with a few more minutes on screen, but all in all, The Guard is an intelligent movie and with quite funny moments when you scratch on the surface.

Rating 4 out of 5.

The Guard – Trailer

Books Features

Book Review: Hour of the Wolf – Hakan Nesser

Review written by Sirpa Salenius

It all started on a dark rainy night as he was driving home after an evening out with his buddies. The road was slippery, visibility almost non-existent, and the level of alcohol in his blood certainly did not help his concentration. Maybe the last drink had been too much, after all. Maybe he should have left his car outside the bar and taken a taxi home. The idea had crossed his mind, but at that moment it hadn’t been raining and he really didn’t feel that drunk. He just wanted to go home, take a hot bath, and go to bed. He was thinking of that relaxing steaming bath when his car hit something. He felt a thump that shook the car. What was it? He stopped the car, got out – and that’s when he saw the body of a young boy. There was no doubt about it, the boy, who seemed barely fifteen, was dead. There was nothing he could do to save him now. But it eased his conscience to know that it had been an accident.

As it turns out when the story starts to take its course, abandoning the body by the side of the road was a wrong decision. It set in motion a chain of events the unfortunate drunk driver was unable to control. Others need to die in order for him to keep his identity concealed, but what has changed is the intentionality of the killings. No longer accidents. Victims of calculated murder.

Hakan Nesser

Hakan Nesser at his best – one of the most intriguing stories with Van Veeteren as the protagonist working to solve the crimes. In this thriller the vulnerable, aging Chief Inspector is fully developed; he is presented at the height of his defenselessness. Now already retired from the Maardam police force, he is depicted mourning a personal loss, trying to cope with his personal problems while assisting his colleagues find the murderer. What could possibly be the motive for these seemingly senseless and random killings? What is the driving force and logic of the murderer? When the wheels start turning, there is no way to stop them.

Hakan Nesser’s thrillers appeared long before the Stieg Larsson trilogy. The author has won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times and he is also the winner of Scandinavia’s Glass Key Award and the European Crime Fiction Star Award (2010/11). His Van Veeteren series is published in over 25 countries in which readers keep waiting for more.

Features Interviews Music

Interview with singer Lucie Niemelä

FREE! Magazine has a great interview with Lucie Niemelä, a Czech musician located in Finland who is about to release on the 16th of March her debul album Doses. Do not miss this interesting reading for all of you who want to discover new artists as well as for young artists aspiring to make their dreams come true!

Thanks for attending us Lucie! Could you explain us a bit when started to passion for music and how was the process to put together this debut album Doses?

I started composing when I was eleven and I played and sang every day but just for myself. I put over 150 of my songs into a drawer. Then I came to Finland and met amazing musicians. I even studied at a conservatory for one year but then I quit and didn’t write any songs for two years because I thought I was not good enough. I chose the easier way of getting an academic job.

Fortunately step by step I found the courage and started performing here and there again. Then in late 2010 it suddenly hit me: my music was good enough, I had a lot to say and I was meant to do this. I recorded a demo and sent it out to Finland and Germany and six months later I was in the studio! The result is now in my hands, on the internet, on the radio… So basically the journey to Doses happened once I arranged in my head who I really was.


You are Czech with Finnish surname, and living in Finland now. Can you tell more about your history and how you ended up in Helsinki?

I was born in the Czech Republic and lived a calm life until I decided to learn Finnish when I was fifteen. That happened after I heard Janne Ahonen on tv say “hyvää huomenta”. I won a grant to go to a Finnish language course in Jyväskylä in 2001, that was my lucky year that changed everything. Since then I kept coming back to Finland, then I met a Finnish guy and fell in love… I moved to Jyväskylä in 2004, three years later to Helsinki.

What are the most difficult and easy things in your opinion for making it happen to release a first album? I suppose to see your ideas and hard work materialized in a CD is already fulfilling but were also things that could happen to be much harder than you thought beforehand?

For me the most difficult thing was to choose the right mic to record my voice  Of course there were lots of time and money management issues but I don’t think about them anymore. Everything worked out perfectly.

I have seen that in some other interview you said that the album is overall about emotions. Have you poured a lot of personal own experiences or real experiences based on people you knew in your album?

The 12 songs on Doses are all about people that I’ve known or about my own experiences. These songs were written over the period of 12 years and they contemplate fates of teenagers and young grown-ups as well as middle-aged and elderly people. I really wanted the album to be for everyone, regardless of age, and I feel I’ve achieved that.

How would you briefly resume the album to a person who has never heard any of your songs about what they can expect when pushing the play button on their CD player?

It’s a romantic and slightly melancholic album full of contrasts: heart-wrenching ballads (Miners) meet joyful rock songs (Doses) and then there are a few uplifting songs to balance it all (Seconds Fly Like Feathers). The main thread of the album is receiving and giving doses of different emotions. Some of the songs carry a harsh message but we managed to preserve the empathy and hope. The album sounds warm and soothing but at the same time awakes thoughts.

In Finland on the other hand, people try often to avoid showing too many emotions in public. How do you find this environment, for a person who considers emotions so important?

In first five years of living here in Finland it really tore me apart. The pressure of the environment to restrict myself, follow the rules, blend in with the crowd, the hypocritical shyness and avoiding praising myself in fear I would seem arrogant. Then I realized the pressure is all in my head. I don’t have to adapt to everything this culture has to offer. People will always be scared to lose their public face, that’s the same in the Czech Republic, in Germany…

I feel the Finnish society is changing, though. People are loosening up, opening up for doses of emotions. Nowadays it’s much more ok to start crying or laughing out loud in the public without having people around you feeling extremely uncomfortable. During my concerts I can see that people are hungry for emotions. Some people seem to be thankful that I dare put my heart on my palm, some seem to be scared and some look like they don’t know what to think of me because I take an emotion and sing it into their faces. That’s why I love singing live!

Your album will be released by a German label and will get distribution in different countries in Europe. Was it more difficult to reach the Finnish record companies for being a foreign artist here in Finland?

I don’t know if it’s because I’m foreign or because my songs are in English and the genre is not metal Songs in Finnish are more likely to succeed. Finland is full of talented musicians and it’s a small market so the competition is fierce. I don’t mind my album is released in Germany first but I’m hoping to get a good distributor in Finland as well.


Apart from this being your first released album, you also collaborate with other projects and bands, right?

At the moment, I collaborate with Jaakko Laitinen & Väärä Raha. I sang on their first record. Their second album is about to be released. I co-wrote a few songs and I’m featuring in one. The release party will be on 17th March in Gloria as the part of Balkan Fever. I will be singing a few songs with them in the Culture tram as well. I can’t wait, they’re great guys.

Are there other musicians or artists you feel inspiration from?

I don’t consciously draw inspiration from other artists but I’ve certainly been influenced at least by these: the Beatles, Queen, Sting, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Beady Belle, Torun Eriksen … just to name a few.

What do you do apart from your musical career? Are you also studying or working? Other hobbies and passions?

I graduated from University of Helsinki in late 2009, majoring in Finnish language and culture. I worked in CIMO for a year and now I’m pursuing my music career only. Music used to be my hobby and now that it’s become my job I don’t even have time for hobbies… I go swimming and jogging, I do yoga, I love reading and writing. My most important hobby, though, is philosophizing about life with my friends. Listening to each other and helping each other out, that’s the best way how to spend our free time.

What are your future plans for the rest of 2012? Anything you want to add for the readers?

My goal is to get as many concerts as I can. A tour in the Czech Republic is definitely coming up and a tour to Germany is planned for autumn. And for the readers: a big melodious dose of love!

Photos: Michaela Kei

Lucie Niemelä – Miners

Concerts Music

Concert Review. Rammstein at Hartwall Areena. Helsinki. 15/02/2012

Sometimes you go to a gig and you feel that you did not get what was worthy the ticket. This is not the case with Rammstein. The Germans visited Finland again, and gave proof of why they are nowadays one of the most amazing bands in the world to see live.

It does not matter if you speak and understand German or not. They have been able to connect with the international audience not singing in English, which is already a merit that not so many bands can be proud about, and the theatrical perfomance that accompanies their show is just outstanding. I can just imagine how difficult must be to rehearse their tours before starting. That is Rammstein, a band with a solid career that entertains you song after song while their music makes elevate your feet from the ground almost unconsciously.


During this Made in Germany Tour, they just played safe shooting hit after hit of their already 17 years of career together. But the schenario was up to the challenge. The band appeared from one lateral side of the arena with the band walking slowly, holding both their flag and the Finnish flag. Without losing time in speeches to the audience, frontman Till Lindermann and his boys just went straight to business to play amazing song after amazing song: Sonne, Keine Lust, Asche zu Asche, Mutter, Du Reichst so Gut… The Germans sound and act still as powerful as when they astonished the worldwide audience with that already far in time classic live concert Live Aus Berlin. Of course it could not be missed in the setlist their most popular hit Du Hast, whose chorus was shyly chanted by the Finnish audience when Till lent them the micro.

If the audience was a bit cold, excepting the first rows of unconditional fans, the band did not let the temperature drop, coming for a first encore crawling all over the bridge (and that short trip had members of the band humping on each other and getting whipped included) that linked the main stage with a smaller stage in the middle of the arena, ready to perform Bück Dich with Lindermann soaking the first rows in water with a fake penis. And that is what Rammstein is about, powerful catchy music, fireworks, masculinity with muscular Apollonian bodies displayed, sense of humor and sexuality mixed in an explosive cocktail.


The big surprise of the night came at the start of the second encore, when Rammstein was joined at the stage by Finnish cello virtuosos Apocalyptica to play together an amazing version of Mein Herz Brennt.

More classics like Engel or Amerika delighted the audience, with the band putting the cherry on top of the cake with Pussy to finish a rounded concert. Well, more than the cherry, we could say that putting the cream on the cake, because Lindermann took control of a giant mobile cannot painted like a penis that bathed on foam half of the areena. Is there any better way of making the audience reach a climax at the end of a live perfomance?

You can love them or hate them, but in my personal humble opinion, if you want to see a band that offers something unique, raw, powerful and provocative in the rock scene nowadays, you should not miss this tour. Rammstein is still a must see live!

Rammstein & Apocalyptica. Helsinki. 15/02/2012

Books Features

Book Review: The Killing

Written By Sirpa Salenius

Machiavellian politicians in David Hewson’s The Killing

David Hewson’s new novel, The Killing, is a good example of how authors have started to use the genre of crime fiction to voice their social criticism. In their thrillers/detective stories Henning Mankell, Stig Larsen, Jens Lapidus and now Hewson all express their concerns about contemporary problems: corrupt politics, stereotypical prejudices towards immigrants, the loopholes in social welfare, victims of overly protective society, class divisions and social hierarchy. One of the central topics in Hewson’s thriller is the power of media, or media manipulation. In today’s world, it seems, one is judged and condemned on the pages of newspapers and magazines well before any official charges are issued. Consequently, one is deemed guilty until proven innocent. Even afterwards, the guilty label may be hard to remove as media headlines with powerful messages reach a vast audience who then have a hard time erasing media’s condemnation.

The Killing

The group of protagonists in The Killing, which is set in Copenhagen, are Machiavellian politicians and their ambitious assistants who think that the end justifies the means. The ruthless game of politics is played at the cost of innocent lives and rivals’ reputations. The world of false values and questionable morals that forms the background of the thriller becomes nauseating even to some of the politicians who are used to maneuvering that world. Petty criminals join the political leaders in the row of potential suspects in the sinister case of rape, torture and murder of a dazzling 19-year old student Nanna Birk Larsen. Through more than half the story you feel convinced about the guilt of one suspect after another as sympathies and antipathies divide the characters into “good” and “bad” guys. Detective Sarah Lund stands firmly in the limelight with her nearly obsessive desire to catch the murderer. Can good win in the callous political game of calculated moves aimed at gaining votes for obtaining power?

Can simple genuine love, two hearts beating as one for better or worse, be declared the precious essence of life? The unexpected plot twists and tangibly forceful action make you hold your breath and inject adrenaline into your system while your heart keeps pumping – faster and faster. Extreme emotion, intense thrill, brilliantly built suspense.

The Killing will be launched at “Crimefest” in Bristol on 25 May 2012.

Books Features

Book Review: The Glass Room

Review written by Sirpa Salenius

The Glass Room is Ann Cleeves’s fifth Vera Stanhope story

Ann Cleeves calls attention to the writing of detective stories in her new novel, The Glass Room, featuring Northumberland DI Vera Stanhope. The soft-mannered investigator leads the way in the mysterious murder of a highly-esteemed literary agent Tony Ferdinand. The setting for this detective novel is the Writer’s House in the English countryside where a group of crime novelists had gathered for an intense week of tutorials, hardly expecting to be involved in a real murder case. All the emerging novelists at the creative workshop in the isolated country house all of a sudden become suspects; they all know enough about murder to be able to commit one.

The Glass Room

As others have already noticed, following Detective Stanhope’s investigation is like reading Agatha Christie again. Or Sherlock Holmes. Or like watching police inspector Barnaby. The conventional gothic setting, the novel’s so-very-English characters, and the slowly built up suspense are a welcome change to modern gruesomely violent crime fiction. A pleasantly entertaining traditional whodunit mystery novel.

The Glass Room was published on 2 February 2012 by Pan MacMillan.

Books Features Interviews

Interview with Swedish writer Jens Lapidus

Swedish writer and lawyer Jens Lapidus has become one of the most recognized contemporary authors in depicting the crime underworld in both his native country as well as in the international literary world. After the release of the translation in english of his debut novel Snabba Cash (Easy Money), FREE! Magazine contacted him and he kindly answered our questions about his books, the cinematographic adaptions of his novels and his future projects.

Thanks a lot for attending us Jans! Being a lawyer, has your career been affected in any way after your books started to become popular? Have more clients been dragged to you, or on the other hand some could be reluctant to collaborate with you, being now a public figure, or everything has remained more or less the same?

As my book has been read by a large number of people, including people in jail, I think that some of my clients especially asked to be defended by me as I was a lawyer that they had heard about. But ultimately, I think that it is your performance as a lawyer that will generate clients, not writing books.

Jens Lapidus

I suppose that due to secrecy agreements with the clients, the stories that you tell in the books are not exactly based in reality, but is there a great source of inspiration from what you hear and see in real life in your work as lawyer poured into your novels?

Of course. And that is also how I started writing, to deal with the experiences and stories that I heard in court. But the interesting thing s that reality is always worse and more violent than in my books.

For the foreign eye, the Scandinavian capital cities seem like a paradise of peace and security when compared to other cities in the world. Based on your experience, is this a wrong impression, is there really an underground world of crime that only a few eyes of lawyers and policemen perceive, or the feeling is basically just amplified in your novels?

I would say that the world of underground crime is large and growing in Stockholm. However, most people have nothing to fear as long as they stay out of the way. Actually, I often get this question, and when I was in Russia for the release of my book, they thought I was describing some sort of kindergarten!

What is your opinion of the film adaptation for “Easy Money”? Were you satisfied with the result?

Very satisfied. I think they managed very well to make an independent interpretation of my book and the really kept the authenticity of my book. However, as a writer it was sometimes difficult to hand away my baby that I cherished so.

I have read also that there will be soon an American adaptation done by Warner Bros. Could you please explain us a bit more about it?

Yes that is correct, but unfortunately I can’t say much more due to secrecy clauses.

Are the other 2 books of the trilogy also to be adapted into the big screen?

Yes. Number 2 has been shot already and number 3 is under script adaptation.

If I am not mistaken, the second book of the trilogy “Never Fuck Up” is not much connected with the first, however the third “Life Deluxe” links with the happenings and characters of the other two books. Was this structure planned by you from the beginning, or did it happen more spontaneously during the writing process that you decided to link everything in the final book?

I would say that they are all connected even though you are right about some characters make a come back in the third. My ambition is to build a universe where it all fits in and has its own place.

Easy Money

In your books, although obviously some of the characters and criminals portrayed are Swedish, there are also many foreign characters. At least here in Finland during the last year the political and public opinion has diverted to be more “nationalistic”, where a sector of population sees immigration as a thread for the privileges of a warfare state. How is your opinion in the matter and how do you see this situation in your native country? Do you find it difficult when choosing nationalities for the characters to keep “politically correct” for both the national and the foreigners living in Sweden, or frankly you do not think at all about these issues when writing your books?

I am very much in favor of an open society. I have never been criticized for the choice of my characters.

Out of curiosity, when you use a lot of expression and sentences with the foreign characters portrayed in your books, do you have any native speakers of those languages (for example Spanish from Chile) that help you with the language during the writing process that you can consult at the same time, or do you make the research yourself and then the editors check that everything is in order after you complete the book?

I do a lot of research myself, and I have some Serbian friends who help me with Serbian culture issues. I know some Spanish people, “unfortunately” Chileans.

What are your favorite all time authors, and what books have gladly surprised you that you may have read lately?

I have been really inspired by James Ellroy and David Peace. Right now I am entranced by the short stories by Ferdinand von Schirach.

Do you find difficult to find free time and energy to write while working as a lawyer, or how do you manage well for balancing your time to achieve both careers?

I love them both, and writing is a relaxing hobby for me. I do not watch TV or movies, I write instead.

What are your future projects and plans for 2012?

I am writing on a collection of short stories that I might want to publish.

Articles Misc

Strong Finnish Women

Article written by Sasha Raduntceva

“The perfect woman’s task is to be a mother, and a lover, and a warrior. Then we can say that a Princess became a Queen” – Bernard Werber wrote in his book “The Empire of the Angels.” And it is hard to disagree with it. Especially when we have the obvious case – the life of legendary women.

First of all, probably the best-known Finn-woman of all the times is Tove Jansson, the creator of the cutest creatures – The Moomins. The world fame has come to Tove after the publishing of the first part of Moomin’s epopee. She has drawn also the pictures and has adopted the novels into the theatre plays. But the fact is that Tove herself has always told that first of all she is an artist, and hasn’t taken her literary activity seriously. Among the works of Jansson as an artist best known are: The canteen at the Strömberg factory at Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki, The Aurora Children’s Hospital in Helsinki, The Kaupunginkellari restaurant of Helsinki Town Hall and so on. Also she has made the absolutely adorable comics about Moomin for American newspaper “Evening News” published by powerful Associated Press. Originally Jansson has personally drawn each page of comics, but soon she got bored with this job and she gave it to her brother, Lars.

Armi Kuusela

And that wasn’t a great surprise – Tove and her brothers (Per Olov and Lars) grew up with dad-sculptor Viktor Jansson and mum-graphic designer Signe Hammarsten-Jansson. But Tove had a twofold sense for the fallen on her popularity. On the one hand, she irritated the excessive commercialization of her work, on the other hand, that was a huge income from all kinds of products with a Moomin theme allowed her to rent and then buy Klovharu-island in the Gulf of Finland, where she was able to hide from journalists and fans. All in all the copyrights for Tove’s novels belong now to Lars’s daughter Sofia, because unfortunately she had no children. When Tove died, that was a national mourning day, while her contribution to Finnish literature and art is truly inestimable.

On the other side of The Finnish National Theatre, in Kaisaniemi Park, there is a monument. That is an original abstract sculpture represented the Curtain. That is dedicated to another great example of, speaking like Beyonce, “single lady”, Finnish actress Ida Aalberg. When she was first 23 years old, Ida has already performed not only in native country, but also in Hungary, Germany and Russia, and a little bit later she has got her winner-ticket – the role of Nora in the good-known play “Doll House” by Henrik Johan Ibsen. Since then Ida was gradually strengthened over the status of the national treasure. A lot of actors say that the role of their dream is Hamlet. Well, Ida, in some respect, was one of the luckiest – she was Ophelia, the lover of Hamlet. After the death of her first husband, Ida married Alexander Johann Uexküll-Gyllenband and moved to Russian Empire. Had she fears to go to the foreign country? Maybe, but there Ida had anyway a good career. But in 1906, after the death of Kaarli Bergbom, she has taken the lead in the Finnish National Theatre. The art of Aalberg, one of the best Finnish actresses, distinguished by great dramatic force. She has created images of love and suffering, of a women with deep feelings, integrity and passion.

On June 17 1952 in Long Beach, California the first Miss Universe contest has taken place. There were thirty contestants participated and one of them – 17-old Armi Kuusela from Finland. And exactly she has taken a crown.

Tove Jansson

Of course that was incredible, deafening success. When she was back to home country, it was immediately decided to create a movie dedicated to Armi – Maailman kaunein tyttö (World’s most beautiful girl), where she played herself. Afterwards Armi has chosen the way of actress. She was starring also in musicals with her husband, Filipino businessman, Virgilio Hilario, whom she had met during her first journey round the world.

Of course nowadays is Armi one of the examples of “how to be a great Woman”, but that wouldn’t be full without knowing that she had 5 children. And no one of those daughters and sons live in the same country now: Arne Hilario (lives in Chile), Anna-Lisa De Gari (lives in Spain), Jussi Hilario (lives in Canada), Eva-Maria Hess (lives in United States) and Mikko Hilario (lives in the Philippines).

No matter that people say that politics isn’t ladies business, still there are instances of such women. For example, Finnish president Tarja Halonen. In her youth Tarja has radical leftist views, she took also part in the pacifist movement, was a fan of Che Guevara. Tarja has even left the Lutheran church after women were denied ordination. In 1980-1981 she was a chairman of SETA (Fin. Seksuaalinen Tasavertaisuus ry -”Sexual Equality”), an organization that protects the rights of sexual minorities.

Of course that’s possible to talk about this great woman never-ending, but still there was a specific US-joke – on of the American talk show hosts Conan O’Brien compares to Tarja a lot. After joking about this for several months, he travelled to Finland, where appeared on TV and met President herself.

And now let’s move to the hero of our days. It seems that a lot of people know exactly who Leena Peisa is. Well she is one of the member of freaky band “Lordi” that had won Eurovision song contest in 2006. Actually in “Lordi” she has a specific nickname – Awa that means “Be Aware”. Also she takes on the persona of an unearthly Vampire Countess in her “home band”. Of course there was a real hysteria around how all the members look in there normal life. But still no one knows (probably only the nearest and dearest). But anyway there was a precedent, when Daily Mail credited a photo of a woman (without make-up) as being Awa. But she disclaim that information.

Despite the small size of Finland, almost anyone can become a “dream woman” in this country. What is that – the legendary Nordic hardening or Protestant morality? Answer is difficult, but thanks to the Finnish emancipation (in the best sense of the word), ladies have taken the leading position in the world.

Concerts Music

Concert Review: Deep Purple at Hartwall Areena. Helsinki. 07/12/2011

Deep Purple visited the Finnish capital performing together with the Frankfurt Philarmonich Orchestra, a pre-Christmas gift that no real rock fan could miss!

I had seen the band some years ago in Madrid, and one of my first most vivid memories is remembering singer Ian Gillian wearing a horrible hawaian t-shirt… Well, this time Gillian just appeared onstage together with the rest of the members of Deep Purple in a more normal t-shirt, eager to please the Finnish audience.

It was the first time in my life that I assited to this kind of combo of rock band playing together with a philarmonich orchestra, and my feelings at the end of the concert were mixed. The name of the current tour is “Songs that Built Rock”, and certainly, when the band starts to play tunes that have forged the history of rock like Highway Star, Woman from Tokyo or Strange Kind of Woman, you fully realize that you are facing a piece of music history live.

Deep Purple

However, the general arrangements for the concert left me with a bit of “cold” feeling. Hartwall Areena is a cold place by itself to hold a concert (a venue where usually ice hockey matches are held). All the audience was sat, so nobody would stand up, and the organization, although polite and helpful, was as usually happens in events organized in Finland, too tight following the rules. Even at some point Gillian talked to the audience to say that he did not mind if they were taking pictures of the band, when some security person recriminated a spectator. The audience was in general lacking passion and non-reactive, and maybe during the setlist, there was an abuse of too many solo parts by most of the members of the band guitar solo linked to keyboard solo linked to a drum solo…

About the interaction with the philarmonic orchestra, it left some epic moments like when guitarist Steve Morse makes a duel with his guitar against the director of the orchestra holding his violin, or when the string section fully supported the classic Perfect Strangers, the only song that really moved me all over the show, sounding extra powerful. But in some other moments, the show turned to be too slow and lacking rythm. All in all, I have to praise the attitude of the members of the orchestra, that for some moments seemed to be having more fun onstage sharing moments with Deep Purple than the audience of the concert themselves. Of course, another peak of the night is when Steve Morse started to tease the audience playing some famous riffs to finally start the archifamous one for Smoke on the Water, undoubtedly one of the riffs that is forever inserted in rock history.

Deep Purple came back to the stage to perform a short bis including more classics like Hush or Black Night. As I said, if you are a truly fan of the band or a truly fan of rock music, you will enjoy the novelty of watching them perform together with an orchestra. But I miss a bit more of the “chaotic and wild” feeling that a rock concert should be about…

Deep Purple´s Setlist – Hartwall Areena. 2011

Highway Star
Hard Lovin’ Man
Maybe I’m a Leo
Strange Kind of Woman
Rapture of the Deep
Woman From Tokyo
Contact Lost
Guitar Solo
When a Blind Man Cries
The Well Dressed Guitar
The Mule
No One Came
Keyboard Solo
Perfect Strangers
Space Truckin’
Smoke on the Water

Black Night

Deep Purple plays “Perfect Strangers” at Hartwall Areena

Articles Interviews Misc

Drama Reloaded: Yerma. Interview with director Katariina Numminen

The Baltic Circle Theatre Festival brought to the Finnish capital a wide array of perfomances, Finnish and international, for all tastes.

One highlight was the introduction of Drama Reloaded: Yerma, a work that revisits the classic play by Spanish writer Federico García Lorca confronting the themes of drama and reality while in the perfomances were added comments from interviews with 12 people childless for different reasons.

The director of the play, the Finnish Katariina Numminen, kindly answered the questions of FREE! Magazine to explain more about this and some other of her current and future projects.

Drama Reloaded: Yerma

Hello Katariina and thanks for answering our questions. From where came the idea to adapt and revisit the classic “Yerma”? Were you very familiar with the original Lorca´s work?

I was impressed how very modern Yerma was, what it comes to characters emotions, and to their relationships with each others. I read the play years ago, and I went back to it now, when I wanted to this project about infertility etc. I have of course read Lorca’s work before, but this was the first time I directed his work to the stage.

“Yerma” dates back to 1934, a period in Spain when it was quite common that the roles of wife and husband were defined, with the man working and the woman as housekeeper. Do you think that it continues being a modern topic, even when young couples nowadays usually both work and often they do not even have time for raising or having children, though being fertile?

As I said at some point during the reherseals: I find that Lorca’s spanish village with all the strict rules and demands and honour and such, is not that different from the demands and set of expectations and rules each one of us carries in our heads. So, Lorca’s wiew is not valid what it comes to society, but somehow, strangely, it is very true psychologically. We tend to have terrible demands for ourselves.

In Drama Reloaded: Yerma, the drama basically faces reality and gets analyzed and dissected while taking place. But does the art do not lose in a way the “magic” touch to play with the mind and imagination of the audience when you confront it with reality?

Only if one is looking for an illusion sort of art, a coherent fiction to which to dive and escape from reality. I think fiction and reality do tend to “contaminate” each other on stage. Both change when contrasted. But this is exactly what I find interesting.

Disco Coconut

During an act of the play, I noticed that the actors basically represented the original text of Lorca in Spanish language. Was very challenging for them to learn the lines? Did they have previous knowledge of Spanish language? Why you decided to mix Finnish and Spanish languages in the play?

No, they are not Spanish speakers, so it was hard work for them to learn the lines. But we had a wonderful Spanish coach, who read the lines with us. I wanted to have a scene in Spanish, in a language strange to most of audience and to the actors, because I found that a crisis or a emotional shock can bring us to as state in which we don’t anymore know the language, the words we are speaking ourselves.

If I am not mistaken, you also had a project in Kiasma that is closing just this week, called “Coconut Disco”. What can you tell us about it?

Coconut Disco – Afrikan ääniä was shown last spring as a part of Ars 11 exhibition. It was a live radio play and live performance at the same time. Collaborating with me were musician Rodrigues Jose and sound desingner Kimmo Modig. It was about sounds. A try-out to make space African sounds and voices. The question was: do two people ever hear or see the world the same way.

You collaborate with the Vyborg Artistic Theatre in Russia. Do you spend long periods abroad, or do you live all the time in between Helsinki and Vyborg?

I live in Helsinki.Viipurin taiteellinen teatteri is a project which started in 2002, as a project where we, 6 Finnish Artists, disguised as Russian Viborg Artistic Theatre and made a performance called The Dybbuk. So we acted Russian actors acting that performance. We have made 5 performances since that.
We have a premiere coming, “Viipurin taiteellisen teatterin viimeinen esitys” (Vyborg Artistic Theatre: Last Performance) in Teatteri Takomo in Helsinki this New year’s Eve, and performances during January 2012.

What future plans do you have for the next months? Will Drama Reloaded: Yerma be played around in other theatres in Finland?

Drama Reloaded: Yerma is perhaps having more performances next March.

Cinema DVD Features

Movie Review – Norwegian Wood

I had read some years ago the original book by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami Tokio Blues (Norwegian Wood), and being a fan of Japanese movies, I was curious to see the adaption to cinema, carried away by director Anh Hung Tran.

But I must say that same than when I read Murakami´s books, that I find neither boring nor a masterpiece, I had the same feeling after watching the movie. Actually I personally reccommend other Japanese author, whose surname is also the same, Ryu Murakami, as I have enjoyed his style much more. Murakami is poetic and nice to read, but sometimes I find him a bit tedious. Just like this movie.

Norwegian Wood

Of course it is not easy to adapt a book to the big screen, in very rare occassions the story ends in a success. Here with Norwegian Wood there have been some positive and negative sides. Photography is splendid, lyric, beautiful… The main character of Watanabe, portrayed by actor Kenichi Matsuyama, is also to my understanding very well achieved. At least he is able to represent all what is about to be a lost young Japanese student whose feelings are a mess, the dilemma between love and lust, between been faithful and acting crazy, between been social or lonely… All is there masterfully portrayed.

However, I think the film fails in portraying the female characters that sorround Watanabe. At some point, we miss the background story about their sadness, depressions and problems. They appear on scene like if magically impulsed to fullfill their loneliness by using Watanabe as a sexual partner. Too much poetic slow photography and too little development of the secondary characters. Maybe only Nagasawa, the cynic partner of Watanabe and unscrupulous womanizer, is the one that looks plausible to his role, since being shallow is the core of his character.

Not a bad movie all in all, but I must confess it turned to be a bit too long at the end; I do not enjoy the feeling when I start looking at the watch to see when a movie is finally going to end. A more solid screenplay strenghtening the female characters would have improved the final result dramatically.

Rating 3/5

Norwegian Wood – Trailer

Blogs Concerts FREE! Blog Music

Monster Magnet at Tavastia. 13-11-2011. Pics & Video

Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet
Monster Magnet

Monster Magnet – Space Lord at Tavastia 2011

Articles Misc

Sexhibition: Helsinki´s sex party

Autumm is here. Helsinki is dark, getting colder and colder every day and people start to feel moody and cranky because they know that they will have to wait for a long time until spring is back. The summer parties and casual romances are over… So what to do? Easy, to assist to Sexhibition to feed the erotic flame that the citizens of the Finnish capital have deep (or not so deep) inside.

Sexhibition, the Helsinki Erotic Festival, is organized twice a year in Jäähalli, very near the city centre. For 2 days the assistants can enjoy top performers from all over the world, do shopping and assist to spontaneous displays of affection on the upper stage where the amateurs play an important role.


Actually, if you have never assisted to Sexhibition and you are expecting the venue to be full of old pervs hungry to take a look at some naked flesh, the reality is far from it. I had assisted for last time in 2007 while researching for material for a big cover story about sex business in Finland, so it was refreshing to be back there. The audience is mostly quite young, groups of boys and girls (many of them dressed in quite sexy outfits) who are warming up drinking, looking at the shows, shopping and having a good fun for continuing later the party in some nightclub or at the after party of the festival that was taking place at Millionaire´s Club. There were also many young couples who enjoy the exhibition together.

What I noticed is that maybe the tone of the festival in general is a bit more “softcore” than in previous years, and it is indeed greatly aimed at attracting a female audience, with more performers to delight the ladies like Satisfaction Show and Julio Gonzalez. Not so much explicit sex on the main stage, but more “artistic” perfomances. The queen of the current edition was undoubtedly Tali De ´Mar. You can notice her experience on stage, how comfortable she feels and how she connects with the audience with her erotic-burlesque show.

Charlie Sheen doll

If one can put a “but”, is that most of the shows turn to be quite short, lasting only a few minutes. Also the peep show cabins were a bit dissappointing, paying 2e for just a few seconds of a show, although if you follow the yellow press, you have an extra motivation to hang around to see Saana Parviainen working as a host there (her husband Jussi Parviainen was also present there, I wonder if he wanted to take a closer look at her to check if she would perform live sex with Mr. Lothat on stage or not, like it happened in the previous edition of the festival…).

For making up the pauses between shows, once again the female audience has the better part of the cake when wandering around, with many products on sale for them: lingerie, outfits, all kind of sex toys like an amazing array of dildos, vibrators, etc. No wonder that around 50% of the assistants were women, a number that is probably much more higher than in other Erotic Festivals around Europe, like for example the ones held in my native country Spain.

But also the male audience had many possibilities for doing some good shopping around: quality leather belts for just 10 euro, 2 pack of nice boxers also for 10e, leather jackets with great discounts… Clothes, sex toys and complements to fullfill everybody´s requirements!


If you wanted some more explicit action, at the upper floor there was another small stage where Finnish professional stripper and porn actor Mr. Lothar was hosting the show. There amateurs were welcome to show their erotic and sexual skills to the masses, although in the end it was Mr. Lothar who was stealing the show; One has to recognize that he is a charismatic showman, able to perform live sex in front of hundreds of eyes while cracking jokes, and always followed by a good haren of sexy female fans and collaborators. Among the activities shown there, you could see the semi-finals for the Finnish National Championship of giving blowjobs and licking pussy. I wonder why they never write about those competitions at the tourist office when they comment others in Finland like throwing mobile phones or carrying wives…

All in all, Sexhibition is quite a fun event to visit with friends, a couple, or of course alone if you have the curiosity to see what is going on there. The next edition will change location, being organized at Kaapelitehdas in 2012, so let´s see how the change of the venue affects the general atmosphere of the event. Meanwhile folks, make love, not war!

Photos: Saara Suominen