Falling off the edge of the world

Árstíðir / Myrkur / Sólstafir – Debaser Strand, Stockholm; December 20th, 2017

Early in Árstíðir’s set, Ragnar talked about how the five week tour had been and that they were feeling it after five weeks but were super happy to be in Stockholm. He concluded with “I think I’m gonna cry afterwards actually”. The sentence could not have been more fitting, because for me the whole concert year ended with this gig. It was a good concert to finish the year with, even though it was not the one I had originally planned to be my last show. It certainly  made me forget a few rough days and gave me some good memories to feed off. I was glad I made it to Stockholm to see and hear this.

The day before leaving for Stockholm I had gotten some bad personal news that made me think about not going there at all. In the end I decided to take this last trip to say goodbye to Árstíðir and to skip their Christmas concert in Reykjavik in order to be with my family. It was not an easy decision to make, but in the end family is always first so I decided to get as much enjoyment (and distraction!) out of this concert as I possibly could.

Having to get up in the middle of the night and carrying a heavy suitcase all the way to Sweden didn’t make the trip easy, but other than that everything went smoothly and upon arrival at my hotel I was even invited for a second breakfast. 🙂 Spent the afternoon catching up on sleep and went to the venue way too early, walking up and down in front of it. Saw Gunnar briefly and we hugged before he hurried off somewhere. A nice couple arrived, all excited to see Myrkur and we had a good chat until more people joined us. Ragnar came out for a quick chat and to pick up the cookies I had brought for the band. It is my personal Christmas tradition after all. 🙂

The doors opened, nobody cared about my camera and I got to pick a spot in front row. Of course I stayed on the left, as always. The stage was the smallest I had seen on this tour, but there was a barrier in front. It only took about 30 minutes between doors opening and Árstíðir walking on stage. I was equally happy and sad to see them, because with now new tour dates in sight I had no idea how long it would be until the next concert. With the first notes of ‘Himinhvel’ I took a deep breath and let go of any sad thoughts. There was no place for them here.

They had changed the order of songs since the last show I’d seen so ‘Shine’ was next. It still is as beautiful as it was the first time I’ve heard it and it still gives me goosebumps. That night I discovered some new nuances in the song that made it feel like I was hearing it for the first time. <3 Ragnar invited Hallgrímur on stage to join them on drum and he stayed for the remaining songs. Hearing him play on ‘Passion’ was awesome. I see strings and a drummer in the band’s future!

Their set was all sorts of beautiful and I managed to dream for just a little while as I watched the guys, my guys do what they do best. Sadly, not all that many people had come to see the first band, but those who did were much rewarded and rewarded them with attention and applause in turn. ‘Mute’ has already become one of my favorites. Even though I have yet to fully figure out the lyrics it touches my heart already. 🙂 ‘Things you said’ is so much better with drums too. I loved it.

For ‘While this way’ Gunnar announced they were going to turn it down a notch and they did. I had to remind myself not to hold my breath. These new songs are so amazing already, I wonder what they will become on the new album and how many of them will even end up on it. We will see. The finale, as always, was ‘Shades’. I wished I could have seen the concert in Brussels where they had Guillaume on cello and Hallgrímur on drums. I am sure this was the next best thing though. The song never fails to move me. It is certainly one of their best. 🙂 And with this, my last Árstíðir concert ended and I said goodbye in my heart. Until next time…

Setlist

Himinhvel
Shine
Passion
Mute
Things you said
While this way
Shades

The best thing about Myrkur’s performance was watching the couple I had talked to before the show, because they really got into it and loved every song. Me? I was indifferent as always. The venue had filled and many seemed excited about seeing her, but I still could not relate to the music and have to admit I had given up trying by then. I passed the time taking pictures and counting down to the last song. There is no doubt the band knows what they are doing and she is a good live performer, but it still leaves me cold. Sorry, not for me, I could have easily done without these 40 minutes.

Setlist

Mareridt
The Serpent
Ulvinde
Onde børn
Vølvens spådom
Jeg er guden, i er tjenerne
Måneblôt
Elleskudt
Skøgen skulle dø
Skaði
De Tre Piker

Finally the stage was set for Sólstafir and I really looked forward to seeing them. They keyboards were hidden a bit in the back corner, but I still had a good view on them and on Hallgrímur too. It felt as if the venue had gotten even more crowded and when a few of the Myrkur fans left after one or two songs, the empty spaces filled up quickly. They had no idea what they were missing. Sólstafir delivered a brilliant show and even though the lights were less than ideal and the sound had been better elsewhere, the performance was amazing. 😀

Even at my fourth concert I didn’t manage to sing along and I still could not have named most of the songs they played, but the music and the singing got to. The band made me forget my worries and live in the moment. Time and space disappeared for a while. I watched and I listened and tried to capture everything with my camera as well. Ragnar was going crazy in the back, head banging all the time. At the early concerts he still needed to concentrate on his playing, but after five weeks of touring it just seemed to flow and he had fun like everyone else in the band. 🙂

The concert was sold out and the audience was much into it. The barrier separating us from the stage was easily bridged by Addi, who leaned out and shook hands, walked on it, using our hands and shoulders for support and even went into the audience in the end so far that some the tape that held the microphone cable had to be ripped off to give him more leeway. 😀

The setlist remained the same from the first concert I saw to the last one, but somehow the music seemed to have grown more powerful. The band had more routine by the end of the tour and I knew the songs a little better. I certainly enjoyed it and could have done a few more of those. It made me happy that after all these years of going to concerts and touring I can still let new bands in. I hope it will never stop.

When ‘Goddess of the Ages’ started I could not believe it was the last song already. Granted, they are all rather long and especially this one is so much fun, because the entire band goes crazy, but still I did not want it to end. For the last time I tried to take it all in: the crazy guitar and bass playing, the wild drumming and the hammond being carried around and still played. It put a big smile on my face that did not leave me until the band was long gone. I felt grateful that this was my last concert of the year. 🙂

pictures of this concert

Setlist

Silfur-Refur
Ótta
Lágnætti
Ísafold
Köld
Hula
Fjara
Bláfjall
Goddess of the Ages

Once they were gone and I waited to say goodbye, I suddenly felt deadly tired. There had not been all that much sleep in the past week and mixed with some sad thoughts returning I was beat. I sat down for a while and in passing Addi told me it was nice to see me again so I told him how much fun I’d had. Watching the guys work I thought of the Christmas concert again and how I’d always watched them packing up. Not this year. I chatted with Ragnar for a while and hugged him goodbye. The others I only saw in passing. I’m sorry the end of the year tradition is broken. Hopefully we can pick it up again next year.

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What is this if not some witchcraft?

Poets of the Fall – Savoy Theater, Helsinki; December 16th, 2017

The Christmas show at the Savoy theater was not only the last Poets of the Fall show of the year, but the last show of the Clearview tour. What had started in Helsinki in September 2016 ended in Helsinki in December more than a year later. Expectations were high for something special and the band delivered. It was a beautiful show that brought a few people to tears, myself included. They made good use of the tater setting and the large stage and since everyone was seated, many people had come dressed for the festive occasion. It was just before Christmas after all. The atmosphere in the theater was rather nice and even though I missed standing close to the stage, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The concert was a good end to a good year. 🙂

Luckily there was almost a full day between the cruise and this concert that I spent sleeping late, relaxing and hanging out with my friend C. before the whole gang met at the hotel around the corner from the Savoy Theater and got ready for the gig. The advantage of having seats was not waiting in the cold. We got there when the doors opened, gathered and sent a message to our friend G. who could not make it. Eventually we got to our seats and waited for show start. The stage was high and quite far away from front row, but I had the perfect seat at the center and a perfect view. Sitting down felt strange, but once in a while it is OK. While we waited we talked and wondered which surprises they might have in store for us his year.

Not so long before 8 the theater was still half empty and I feared people might have mistaken the start time for the opening time. Eventually though, the place filled up and by 8 pretty much every seat was taken. It was a sold out show after all. Soon the lights went out and we cheered. As the music started two female dancers walked out carrying umbrellas with lights on them, dancing at the back of the stage. It looked quite nice in the darkness. Marko walked out between them from the back of the stage into bright spotlights and started singing the intro to ‘Shadow Play’. Wow! C. told me the song is still giving her goosebumps and at that moment it was true for me as well. 🙂 There were steirs between the drum and keyboard raisers that he walked down to the front. At the mic he stood still while the music rose. We clapped when the others joined him on stage and they went straight into ‘Dreaming wide awake’. I noticed that Marko as well as Jani had black face paint over their eyes. Everyone was dressed in shirt and tie and looked great.

It felt a bit strange to be seated and so far away from the stage. Much of the usual interaction with the audience was missing, because it was hard to look the guys in the distance. Still, the show was so good it made me forget all about that – I just sat back and enjoyed. I did not use my camera either. Had it with me and recorded videos of some songs, but generally had it sitting on my lap, forgotten. This was a show to take in and let others worry about capturing it. Tiia did a marvelous job of that and was busy all night photographing from any possible angle without ever getting in anyone’s way. 🙂

‘Center Stage’ was next. This song has really grown on me since they started playing it in their set. I think I did not appreciate it enough before. Stage lights were bright yellow during the entire song and changed to blue for ‘Crystalline’. I loved the song from the moment I first heard it and had been looking forward to hearing it live. I realized that some of the other songs work better for me though. Either way, I very much enjoyed hearing it. ‘Stay’ was a welcome addition to the current setlist. The guys spent much time at the front of the stage, giving us the chance for a closer look, but it was a little difficult to bridge the wide gap to the first row. I had a great view and enjoyed watching them play.

The lights were brilliant for the entire show. Sometimes a bit bright, but all kinds of colors, ever changing along with the mood of the songs. they have used their own lights for a while now and it really paid of all along. This night, it felt to me like it was even better than at previous shows. 🙂 Not only the lights but everything else was perfect too – everyone’s playing, Marko’s singing and the sound in general as if they had used all the winter shows to rehearse for this one. There was not a wrong note to be heard. The venue, being a theater was made for performances of course. 🙂

During ‘Temple of Thought’ Marko spent a lot of time at the front, singing to people in the first few rows, bridging the gap. The last line though, was reserved for Captain. Before we arrived there, he pointed out Olli’s guitar playing and let him take the spotlight for a solo. Then it was time for ‘Rouge’, more great solos and more cowbell. 😉 I am not a big fan of instrumentals, but this is one I never get tired of, because it is so entertaining to watch the guys getting into it and playing their hearts out. Of course they always play well, but ‘Rogue’ has a very special magic with everyone showing off their skills and at the same time showing their respect for each other. it is beautiful. <3

When it was over, most of the guys walked off. It remained dark and I know this could only mean ‘Moonlight kissed’ was going to be next. Ever since they had premiered the song in Russia we had been waiting to hear it and so far it had not happened. Jani had hinted that it would though and finally the moment had arrived. It started with the sounds of a cello, created by Jani’s bass as Marko slowly walked to the mic. The piano set in, the dancers with the light decorated umbrellas appeared in the back and he started singing. In the blue stage light, the very nicely visible, but I was so captivated by Marko that I only noticed them when they walked to the front and he was singing to one of them briefly. There was not a sound in the room apart from the music. Everyone in the room seemed to hold their breath until the last note on the piano rang out and it turned dark again. Only then, we erupted into cheers. It could not have been more touching. *sigh*

The audience was quiet and respectful in general. I have no idea if the it was the atmosphere created by the theater or a different mix of people than at other concerts, but I noticed how nobody shouted anything during the concert and people rarely even cheered when they recognized a song. after the show, some referred to the audience as “lame”, but I prefer respectful, because the cheers grew loud whenever a song ended and any call and response or sing along worked nicely as well. 🙂 It certainly looked like the guys were enjoying it and so did I. As usual I cannot remember what happened during which song, but one thing I do recall is Jani standing beside Jari, talking to him and laughing. I would have loved to know what they found so amusing.

‘Illusion & Dream’ was my first love when it comes to Poets o the Fall and is still a song I cherish. I love absolutely everything about it including the part where the band comes to the front and toasts to the audience. It never gets old. ‘The Game’ on the other hand is one of my newer loves song wise and was just as great. The song rang out, Marko walked to the front and a dramatic intro started. I had no idea what was coming and for a moment I thought it might be ‘Carnival of Rust’. He sang one line, I think it was “The labyrinth awaits”, but it took my brain a moment to realize that. He bent down and picked up a lamp off the floor, then sang the first words of the lyrics “down on your knees you find your way through this labyrinth of whys”. Only then I realized which song it was and I was in tears. :’)It is by far my favorite song on the album and the performance was magical. <3 The stage was mostly dark, bathed in blue light and the lamp in Marko’s hands only added to the atmosphere, lighting up his face as he sang. When it was over he stood still for just a moment and I let out a deep breath I had not realized I was holding.

The spell was broken by the intro to ‘The Child in me’ during which Marko introduced Captain and Jari before he started singing. I love the contrast between the playful melody and the somewhat dark lyrics that still retain some hope for “serenity in a shattered world”. It also gave us a chance to clap along for a while. 🙂 During ‘Carnival of Rust’ the dancers were back, this time carrying hula hoops that lit up. They were moving in he back behind Captain and Jari, but got lost a bit in the stage lights. something else got lost too – I completely lost track of time. despite singing along I had suddenly had the feeling that I was missing a few of my favorite lines in the song. My brain must have gone elsewhere for a moment or two. 😉 Anyway, time past too quickly and I could not believe the set was already over.

When the band came back for encores not everyone was on stage so I figured they’d add another song to the setlist. It was ‘Sleep’, beautifully played and sung. Jaska was sitting down on the drum raiser during most the song and  the dancers were much more visible this time. The rest of the band joined for the end of the song. The stage went dark briefly and the launched right into ‘Shadow Play’. I had thought they might leave out the full song and was happily surprised. <3

‘Daze’ went by in a daze. It has taken on new meaning for me lately and I expected it to be tough, but it wasn’t as bad a I thought. I remember waving our hands in tune with the musc, but not much else. When ‘Llft’ started I knew this was the finale of he show. As the “Yet I go on and on and on” line came up, Marko looked at us expectantly as if he was saying “Go on now, do the hand move” and of course we did. 😀 The last song of the show and of the Clearview tour was ‘Children of the Sun’. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful show and carried the right message to send us off into the night. Marko thanked everyone for coming, wished us a safe trip home and merry Christmas. The band bowed, waved one last time and left, most of them hugging Glen on the way out. Jari was last to walk out, enjoying his 15 seconds of fame as he threw the drumsticks. 🙂

Overall it was a great show. It was certainly something different a good closure to an exciting year of touring (or an exciting 15 months to be exact). I loved the setlist and the performance and thought the dancers were a nice addition. I sure had fun and enjoyed the concert fully. Yet it was just a little bit too polished for my liking, with not enough contact between the band and the audience. The high stage and the distance to the front row made it impossible to shake hands and even though they did their best to bridge the gap it felt weird at times to sit there and look up at them. Thus, even though I loved the fact that I did not have to freeze for hours before the show, I still might have preferred a different setting. Either way, it was lovely to be there among so many friends and celebrate the end of the Clearview tour with Poets of the Fall. Thank you for an amazing year and I’ll see you in 2018.

Setlist

Shadow Play Intro
Dreaming wide awake
Center Stage
Crystalline
Stay
Temple of Thought
Rogue
Moonlight Kissed
Illusion & Dream
The Game
The Labyrinth
The Child in me
Carnival of Rust

Sleep
Shadow Play
Daze
Lift
Children of the Sun

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