Poets of the Fall – Virgin Oil, Helsinki; December 9th 2011
Things were coming full circle last night – their tour and mine ended (almost) where it started: In Helsinki, just at the Virgin Oil and not the Tavastia. I love both clubs and have seen amazing concerts at both so it was fine for me to end here.
I had a sore throat after Monday’s gig (from too much singing along I assumed then), which unfortunately turned into a full-blown flu by yesterday with headaches, coughing fits and a runny nose. Still, there was no way in hell anything or anyone would keep me from attending the last Poets of the Fall gig of this year. So I went to the apteekki, got myself some drugs and vowed not to hug anyone or shake any hands during the course of the evening.
Met my friends at the Virgin Oil around 7:00 p.m.to hang out at the bar. Was a little early and bumped into Olli, said hello briefly. Also saw Jari arrive and waved at him. We had drinks and chatted, hung out, met more friends and got in line around 9:00 when it started. At the Virgin Oil the lines are always a little chaotic, but the security guard was nice and took care of that. The opened at 10:00 p.m., 30 minutes earlier than promised and we secured front row for us. The waiting was not good for me. I really felt that I should have stayed in bed, but what can you do? There’s always Sunday to get well before going back to work.
The guys had promised something special and when I saw three chairs instead of only one as usual I knew it was going to be an acoustic set. That alone made it all worthwhile.
The gig started shortly after midnight with the ‘Dreaming wide awake’ intro. Seeing the guys walk on stage immediately made me smile. I also loved being so close. I had a pretty good view of everyone for once. They all looked happy to kick off the last gig of the year and the audience reaction was pretty overwhelming. Loud screaming greeted them on stage. My throat didn’t thank me for screaming along, but at least I didn’t end in a coughing fit.
No chance to stop rocking or even catch my breath during ‘The ultimate Fling’ and ‘Can you hear me’. I did take a few pictures, but mostly I just tried to take everything in with my eyes. The guys having so much fun on stage, smiling, rocking out, letting us carry them – and the people around me, elated and happy to be there. ‘No end, no beginning’ was once again so beautiful it took my breath away. There is no song quite like it. My friend C. and I looked at each other while singing the lines about being secretely grateful. I am indeed grateful to all the friends who have shared these past concerts with me. This started the calmer part of the show, followed by ‘Stay’ and ‘Sleep’, both always crowd favorites, before ‘Locking up the sun’ rocked the house and even had me jumping around a bit. The smile on my face just grew bigger as I was watching the guys. Olli and Jaska duelling with their guitars, Jani and Jari all caught up in the music, Marko all over the stage, climbing boxes and jumping off again. One very memorable moment was Captain moving his hand in the spotlight above the keyboards, just watching the effect. He looked pretty caught up in it and reminded me that I’d done the same thing with the green light spots in Turku before the gig. It’s indeed “the little things that make the world”.
Then it was time for the acoustic set and even more awesomeness. Olli, Marko and Jaska sat down, while Jani got out the stand-up bass. I had not seen that appear since the Tavastia gig last year so it was a pleasant surprise. They played ‘Desire’, ‘Sorry go round’ (bossa nova) and ‘You’re still here’ – all without any lyrics screw-ups this time. ‘Desire’ is one of the few songs I cannot relate to, but I still enjoy this version. ‘You’re still here’ was stunning. It’s just one of those songs that seem to become more meaningful time after time. ‘Sorry go round’ bossa nova version is always a highlight. I consider myself lucky to have heard it for the third time now. The lyrics got changed a little bit to “Everybody wants to be like me, because I’m a Rock ‘n’ Roll star.” I dare anyone to disagree with that statement.
Back to the regular scheduled programming with ‘War’, yet another song that during the course of this year has gone from “just” a song I really like to one that has taken on a very special meaning, has become “mine”. ‘Roses’ still makes me happy every time I hear it and ‘Given and denied’ is just beyond beautiful. While Marko was busy shaking hands and playing to the crowd to the left and right of the stage of the stage I took some time to watch the others. It is so much fun to see them interact with each other and I can’t help but marvel at their skills. Even though I don’t know much about music or playing an instrument, even as a layman I can tell when I see masters at work and all of these guys are. Jani and Jari are probably the strongest rhythm section I know in any band (and I’ve seen quite a few good and even some great ones), who just always know when to be at the center of the music and when to step back and provide the foundation for the others to work on. I always loved it when Captain gets a moment in the limelight during the more piano driven pieces like ‘Sleep’ and Olli and Jaska? What can I say about these two guitar heroes other than watching their fingers work is pure joy? So everyone attending a Poets gig should take their eyes off Marko once in a while (and yes, I know how very difficult that is) and take the opporttunity to watch the others. You’ll miss a great deal of fun if you don’t.
‘Diamonds for Tears’ and ‘Illusion & Dream’ brought the main set to a close. Both had the crowd rocking and singing along with a lot of toasting during ‘Illusion & Dream’. I felt a small pang of sadness, realising it was going to be over soon, but then got right back into the groove and rocked on. A Poets of the Fall gig is no place for me to be sad. The guys just make me way to happy for that.
With the last chords of ‘Illusion & Dream’ they left, but we didn’t have to do much begging to get them back on stage. They were not quite done with us yet. ‘Late goodbye’ had us all waving and singing along, the always hauntingly bautiful ‘Carnival of Rust’ gave Marko yet another chance to show just how amazing a singer he is. He started it with a quote from R.E.M.’s ‘The one I love’ – that alone gave me goosebumps. I must say I can’t remember ever having heard him sing quite like he has been this fall. He has a great voice and he certainly knows how to use it, but with these past 6 gigs I’ve had the feeling his singing was even better than usual. *tips invisible hat* ‘Lift’ ended the show and had me screaming at the top of my lungs once again. Judging by the sound of it, everyone else in the audience did the same. It was just like a burst of energy from the stage to us and back to the stage. The guys gave it all they had and drove the show to a wonderfully crazy finish. I watched them walk off with a huge smile on my face, waving, happy. Olli gave me a guitar pick as he left.
When it was over I was a little dazed and it took me a while to get my bearings and gather my belongings. I did not feel like leaving at all. Didn’t get very far either, just got stuck at the merchandise stand chatting with Petri for a while, then met E. and chatted with her too. Briefly met Marko as he walked out and said goodbye. Before I finally left I didn’t only get hugs from my friends, but from Petri as well. He wasn’t afraid of getting the flu from me. A nice ending to a fantastic evening.
Dreaming wide awake
The ultimate fling
Can you hear me
No End, no Beginning
Locking up the sun
You’re still here
Sorry Go round
Given and denied
Diamonds for Tears
Illusion & Dream
Carnival of Rust