Poets of the Fall – Tavastia, Helsinki; November 12th, 2008
For the third time this year I traveled to Helsinki to see the Poets. Crazy schedule this time: In Wednesday at noon and out Thursday evening – not enough money or vacation days left to stay for the weekend.
Last gig in Finland, my personal last Poets gig for this year, the famous Tavastia – my expectations could not have been much higher. AND: They were exceeded!
Like most other trips this one started with having to get up rather early. Half asleep I made my way to the train station and to the airport. Once inside the plane, I went to sleep almost immediately. Missed the airline breakfast and was pretty hungry when I arrived. First things first though: Going into the city and to my hostel. It was nothing special, but OK and the cheapest place I could find to stay for this time of the year (as my usual hotels were outrageously expensive all of a sudden). Anyway, back downtown for some food and some shopping. The city had greeted me with grey skies this time so I really didn’t feel like walking anywhere and took the tram. A few CDs and DVDs later I went back to the hostel, hung out, ate, watched TV for a bit until it was time to go.
Arrived at the Tavastia shortly after six and to my surprise found already a few people there. Most of them were just hanging out, hoping to meet the band because they were to young to actually go to the gig. Since I knew some of them and the soundcheck could be heard quite well, I decided to stay. They soundchecked ‘You know my name’, ‘Sorry go round’ – acoustic, ‘Miss Impossible’ and ‘Sleep’. Time went by comparably fast, chatting with the others and watching the guys through the glass in the door .
All of a sudden I heard a familiar voice asking me in German “What are you doing here?” – it took a few seconds to register who it was, because I had absolutely not expected to see him there: S., “leader” of the Prowlers of the Fall and keeper of the German Poets site. I had not seen him since the Berlin gig and was totally happy to meet him there. He hung out for a bit to chat before he went to the bar next door to meet with the Cheerios. Since I was the first in line I decided to stay, chatting with those around me.
At 8 p.m. they opened the door and after handing in my three jackets (and paying only once) I was let into the bar area. It took me a bit to figure out where to go because I had never been at Tavastia before, but the friendly staff helped. More waiting. Met S. with her mum and shortly after I. arrived so I had people to talk to. It still took over one hour before they finally opened the door. Three people (fans of the support act, Phoenix Effect) were already inside and in front, but I got my favorite spot right off center anyway.
More waiting, but at 9:30 p.m. the gig finally started. I was very excited to hear Phoenix Effect as I like their first single and they are produced by the Poets too. In addition to that I really wished Janne some success after being kicked out by Sunrise Avenue.
What can I say? They kicked Sunrise Avenue’s ass big time.
Unfortunately the sound was not all that great so I could understand the lyrics only for the slow songs. With the rockier ones Janne’s voice was simply drowned out. Thus, I don’t have much of an idea what he was singing, but it all sounded damn good. Loved it. Great warm up for what was to come.
During break it was time to meet more people – a lot of the front row had familiar faces so there was more chatting. I was so wound up already by that time that I guess it would not have mattered what the Poets played. There was not setlist to be seen this time so whatever would happen was going to be a surprise…
The lights went off at 10:30 p.m. and the first notes to ‘The ultimate Fling’ started playing while the guys walked on stage. A huge smile formed on my face as I watched them. YES! It was magical from the very first notes. Everything was perfect. The singing was a bit lost in the mix at times, but it didn’t matter, since I know the lyrics anyway. The sound was very clear otherwise and the guys were on fire. There was so much energy on the stage that night it was unbelievable. It was the night of black shirts too. At least until Marko decided it was too warm and played on in his undershirt – not without rebinding the tie he had formerly removed though. The man can multi-task: sing and bind a tie at the same time.
After ‘The ultimate Fling’, ‘Diamonds for Tears’ followed. The lyrics have taken on much meaning for me recently and before the show I was convinced I would cry when they played it. Being there however, made me so happy and the song was rocking so much that there was not even a remote thought of crying. Adding to my generally good mood, ‘Psychosis’ was back in the setlist. I had not heard it since Berlin and it rocked the house. By this time, the tie was hanging from the mic stand and the shirt was open. ‘Revolution Roulette’, the next song also made a reappearance and was just great and the first time that night Marko squatted in front of me. He looked at me briefly and smiled, recognition showing on his face. He was also so close that I heard him singing without the mic. Goosebumps.
‘Don’t mess with me’, another one of my favorites, was back in the set too and the black shirt finally went flying. Understandable, judging from how hot it was in front of the stage. About halfway through the show I was very happy that I was wearing layers too and went from black T-Shirt to white Tank top.
When I heard bits of the acoustic version of ‘Sorry go round’ during soundcheck it already surprised me, but what became of it on stage simply blew me away. A nice bossa nova version, with great guitar work from Olli. Awesome and a chance to rest after rocking and dancing. A lot of jumping was going on as well – on stage as well as in front. Ocasionally the people in the front row had to pull their hands and things away in order to save them.
‘Fire’ picked up speed again, then came a nice order of faster and slower songs to rock out to and breathe again in-between. ‘Stay’, ‘Clevermind’, ‘Illusion and Dream’, all beautifully sung and sung along by the audience. ‘Locking up the sun’ was brilliant – tight sound, the guys giving all they had. ‘Carnival of Rust’ brought Captain and Jani sitting down in front of the drums and Marko spinning round and round on a chair. Very funny. I wondered if he was not getting dizzy.
‘Lift’ had everyone jumping and screaming before the guys went for a short break.
The returned with :You know my name’, the Chris Cornell cover. It was great to hear it live, even though I could hardly hear the singing. It didn’t matter, only being there and being able to witness this very special concert did. When ‘Late goodbye’ followed I thought it was over as it had closed all the shows I had seen during they year. Great sing along from the audience again. When they walked off stage I was a little sad, especially since ‘Sleep’ had been soundchecked. However, they came back!
‘Miss Impossible’ rocked the house again and then a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘Sleep’ sent us all on our way. I was beyond happy and very, very amazed.
At the very end of the show, Jaska carried Olli out like a groom would carry his bride – very funny moment.
I kept standing in front of the stage forever, chatting, hugging friends, saying goodbye. What a fantastic show. Little did I know that the night was just beginning….
I stayed at the Tavastia until 1 a.m., talking, watching people, hanging out. Finally got my Prowlers banner autographed by Jari who told me he was totally exhausted and how he had loved the show as much as I did, how they all thought it was special. I talked to Jaska too and he said the same – that they felt it was a special show. I didn’t have to steal a hug this time – it was given freely.
Outside, all those people who where still there split into two groups: One went home and the other went for the after show party. I don’t remember the names of the bars we stopped at, even though there were only two and I didn’t drink all that much. What I do remember is that we were about twenty people, that Janne from Phoenix Effect was there with a bunch of his friends, that Jaska joined us later, that I chatted briefly with the Cheerios and at length with B. who had come from Germany to see Phoenix Effect and just had the most wonderful time. English, German and Finish was spoken at the same time, stories and drinks were shared and the night went flying by. At 4 a.m., they kicked us out because the bar was closing. More chatting outside, lots of helpful people who pointed me in the right direction on the map and a quiet walk back to my hostel followed. I listened to the Poets on my iPod, grinning like a loon and watched as the city slowly awoke and workers set up the first marked stands on Kaupatori.
I finally fell into bed at around 5:30, didn’t sleep much, but dreamed happy dreams while I did.
The ultimate Fling
Diamonds for Tears
Don’t mess with me
Sorry go round – bossa nova
Illusion & Dream
Locking up the Sun
Carnival of Rust – acoustic
You know my Name