I’ve got this madman on my mind

Poets of the Fall – FestiVilla Vaasa; June 17th, 2017

The Poets of the Fall concert in Vaasa marked the start of the summer festival season, which generally means shorter show and seeing a number of other bands. I am not a festival fan, but when there is a choice between seeing POTF for an hour or not to see them at all, I often chose the former. In this case, it was a good decision. They played a highly energetic show that left me smiling and looing forward to the next one.

For me this concert was the end of a three week tour with 15 concerts before this one. So while my friends were excited about their first concert in a long time, I was a little sad that this was my last one for some time to come. Either way, after a day of resting in Helsinki I was happy to meet up with A. on the train and with S. when we arrived in Vaasa, looking forward to the evening ahead. We spent a nice afternoon, before walking to the venue and arriving just after the doors opened.

A. joined us soon and we sat on a swing near the stage during the first band, Unia. We did not see them, but from the songs alone I’d say they were nothing to write home about. Next up were K.A.J. and they were a pleasant surprise. When they started I thought is was Finnish Rap, but soon realized they were more of a fun and that played numerous styles and did not take themselves seriously at all. After two songs or so we moved to front row and enjoyed the show. The three guys performed songs in Swedish and Finnish and what thy did was truly a performance with different costumes, different styles of music and much drama. It was awesome and despite not understanding much of what they said I laughed quite a lot. Apart from Finnish RAP they did a Tango, a Swedish song about being allergic to pollen and some dramatic Spanish style love song. It was hilarious and these are only example. For the encore they even turned into a boy band, complete with choreography and matching costumes. 😀 Their 45 minute set was over in a heartbeat.

KAJ pictures

Tribute to Queen (Kimmo Blom) followed and they were awful. The singer was constantly off key and destroyed all the wonderful songs. I was wearing earplugs, but it was still terrible. Only the guitarists were OK and I was glad when it was over. Setting up the stage for Sanni took forever and it suddenly got crowded. Apparently she has a lot of fans. I was annoyed before she even started, because thanks to the complicated stage setup, I knew Poets were going to be late, unless she played shorter than she was supposed to. Once she started it was OK, but it did not speak to me at all. She had a good band, she did her own thing, the lights were good and her fans passionate, but I could not relate to her music. it left me completely cold. Oh well, I don’t think I am the target group here and her fans obviously had fun. It made me smile how well thy all knew the words, but especially the fact that they are were bad singers, just like POTF fans are. What they lacked in signing skills, they made up for with enthusiasm though and that’s what counts.

Sanni pictures

Finally she was done and some stage hands started changing the stage for Poets of the Fall. they were taking their bloody time though, so much in fact that Poets set up their own gear in the end. Meanwhile he audience in front of the stage had almost completely changed. they were supposed to start at 15 minutes past midnight, but it was almost 12:30 when they did. We had been wondering if the setlist was going to change in any way other than being shortened. Since there had been no rehearsals we knew of, the only other option was changing the order of songs.

As soon as the intro started playing, I forgot everything else and arrived in the now, feeling happiness and excitement surge through me. No matter how tired and cold I might have been before, all this fell off me and I only lived in the moment. They kicked off the show with ‘Shadow Play’ and while some people in the audience where still realizing that the show had stated, A., S. , A. and me were already clapping in unison. 😀

Just before the Poets walked on stage we had talked about the huge boxes right in front of it and how one or several of the guys would surely step on them. It happened during the first song already and Marko was right in front of us, smiling. During the course of the evening, everyone but Jari and Captain stood there. I am still waiting for Captain to do it too as he walks out from behind the keyboards at times, but so far it hasn’t happened. 😉 Since there is usually a big gap between audience and stage at festivals, it always makes me happy to get a close up view. 🙂

‘Daze’ happened and for the first time since the beginning of the ‘Clearview’ tour, Marko got the second line of the song right (all the other times he sang half of the second line of verse one and half of the second line of verse two). I was so surprised that I turned to A. and made a comment about it. For ‘Dreaming wide awake’ he was back in front of us and sang that he is dreaming me wide awake. <3 I loved how quickly all the lyrics came back to me and how easily I fell into the music. I was moving right along with it from the start.

As if the smile on my face wasn’t big enough already, looking at my friends beside me made me smile even more, because they looked so joyful. 🙂 The guys looked happy too, especially Jaska was smiling or laughing all night. For him, as well as Jani and Jari he festival season was in full swing already, as they play with other bands too, but maybe being back on stage with this band in particular has its own magic. Whatever the reason, it just made me happy to see the guys happy. They gave all that night and their energy kept me going. The crowd was good, had fun and luckily most of the drunk people were nowhere near us as soon as it started. As far as festivals go this was the best one could hope for.

When ‘The Game’ started I was surprised we were at this point in the set already. It felt as if the guys had walked on stage just seconds ago. Time always goes to fast when you’re enjoying yourself. 😀 I was singing along to every song, even before I knew which one it was. Strangely enough I didn’t remember any of the songs on the setlist until I heard them again. Must have been seeing all these other concerts in-between. 😉 It was beautiful being there and I felt so alive, feeling each and every song, finding lines in there that spoke to me, told the story of my life. It never ceases to amaze me how easily this band can transport me to a different world and simply make me happy.

So many little things happened, like the guys posing for me or Olli patting Jani on the shoulder when he came over to check out Olli’s playing. Watching them was so much fun – their amazing playing, their interactions. I forget things too easy and never can remember much after the concert, but what always remains is a general feeling about it and this one was fun! It made me forget everything else, time as well as place. For an hour I was in a zone where only the magic of music could reach me. It is an amazing place to be in. 😀

They kept ‘Rogue’ and ‘Drama for Life’, which were both  brilliant. What made me especially happy though was that ‘Everything fades’ remained on the setlist. 🙂 I had hoped for ‘War’ to stay too, but no such luck and ‘The Labyrinth’ was gone too, but that is not exactly a festival song. I loved the setlist nonetheless, even though it was – of course – a bit shorter than the previous one for the club gigs. When the main set ended with ‘Locking up the sun’ including much dancing and jumping on stage, I could not believe it had gone so fast. The band was back almost immediately reacting to our enthusiastic cheers. I screamed so loudly that A. looked at me in surprise. Yes, I can scream with the best of them, but only when I’m not trying. 😉

Two more songs, the proven double of ‘Carnival of Rust’ and ‘Lift ended the show. Both were awesome and I loved every second, but it felt very weird not to have ‘Children of the Sun’ in the end. It had been such a fixed thing on this tour I could not believe it was gone. That will take a little getting used to I suppose. Of course it did not make the concert any less enjoyable and I had loved all of it.

Chatting happily we returned to our hotel where we had a little after party until the small hours of the morning when it finally got dark outside. The next morning at breakfast and especially on the trip home I felt melancholia hit me as I realized that three weeks of touring were now over and I’d have to return to work the following day. This was fun, let’s do it again soon!

Poets of the Fall pictures

Setlist

Shadow Play
Daze
Dreaming Wide Awake
Diamonds 4 Tears
The Game
Temple of Thought
Rogue
Drama for Life
Everything fades
Locking up the sun

Carnival of Rust
Lift

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What do I do with this stuff?

Amanda Palmer & Edward Ka-Spel – Heaven, London; June 13th 2017

Intense! That’s the first word coming to my mind when I’m thinking of last night’s Amanda Palmer / Edward Ka-Spell performance in London. I laughed and I cried, I was enthralled and completely in awe, I forgot that I’d barely slept and the two plus hour show felt no longer than the blink of an eye. Finally I understand what it is all about. It was totally worth the trip to London and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I discovered Amanda Palmer the long way around. I’d heard about her, but never checked her out until my friend K. recommended her Ted talk. I liked that, I though she was cool, I read her book “The Art of asking”, loved that, but still didn’t check out her music until last summer when I watched the Dresden Dolls show being webcast from Coney Island. It drew me in, I enjoyed it, I wanted to know more. It was then I decided to see her live. What followed was a lot more webcasts I saw, a few missed opportunities because I was touring elsewhere, finally joining her Patreon and the decision that it had to be this tour. Originally I had planned Antwerp and Amsterdam, but life happened, another tour became more important and London was the only option left. Thus, I decided it was now or never and I have no regrets. 🙂

The previous night had been long, involved being out with friends and heavy drinking, so I found myself at Warsaw airport on two hours of sleep, knowing my only chance to catch some more shut eye before the night’s concert would be on the plane. I did, but when I finally arrived at my hostel and entered the dorm the first words I heard were “You look exhausted!” and I felt it too. Got food, showered, tried to cover up the dark circles below my eyes and went to the venue. Got there just after six. Perfect timing as within five minutes after my arrival the line grew from around 20 people to at least 100. Had a nice chat with the people in line around me, a British woman, an American one, one from Germany and a guy from Poland who was living in London. People told me it would be a great show. I totally believed it. Also, I spotted playing cards and card symbols everywhere. 😀 Got in, scored a spot at the front of to the side by the stairs and was very happy nobody had told me I could not bring my DSLR. The venue was cool and as show start drew nearer I was getting excited.

It was going to be interesting to not recognize the songs right away or be able to sing along. With only a vague idea of what to expect, I hoped it would work for me even in my less than perfect state. It did! I was spellbound from the start. The only thing that reminded me of being tired was the fact that my attention span was really short and I could barely remember anything a moment after it had happened. It did not matter, because I felt alive and caught up in the moment. The music and the stories captured my full attention, took me on a journey that left me with my mouth hanging open from the minute they first walked on stage to the final bow.

We all knew it wasn’t going to be long, when we saw photographers gather in front of the stage and the cameramen were getting ready to webcast the show. When the lights went down, the crowd went wild and the show started with Patrick Q Wright on violin, just before Amanda and Edward walked out and took their places behind the keyboard and laptop respectively. Amanda started playing and Edward took the lead for ‘The Unlikely Event’. It was as dark as it was amazing and set the mood for the rest of the night. They continued straight into ‘Pulp Fiction’ with Amanda taking the lead, walking to the front of the stage, gesturing towards us with so many emotions reflecting on her face, at times screaming the lyrics. I looked up, transfixed and felt the smile spread on my face. She totally had me from the very first moment. For the rest of the night I found it difficult to take my eyes off of whoever was at the front of the stage.

Amanda introduced ‘Shahla’s Missing Page’ by telling us about a girl from Afghanistan she had heard in an interview. She wanted to be an athlete and had to cross dress to do it and she managed. When she grew up in a tiny village her father had given her a vial of poison that she carried with her to use in case of emergency. Not on someone else, mind you, but to poison herself. The impressions from the interview turned into the song, wonderfully performed by Edward. I must admit that I have not listened to the album much and that it didn’t speak tome at all, but then and there, the songs came to life for me. 🙂

A couple of songs into the show, Amanda invited André on stage who had played with them in Paris and first showed off some strange yet awesome sound gloves and then played the musical saw. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a musical saw incorporated into a song before, only as a singular instrument. It was pretty amazing. We would see him again later that night. I loved how Edward and Amanda trade songs, I loved the stories they told, I loved the fact that both of them were barefoot and I especially loved how much they were into the songs. There were so mny emotions showing on Amanda’s face, I could not help but feel them and the songs were so powerful they gave me goosebumps.

For ‘The Clock at the back of the Cage’ she told us about the baby elephant syndrome, that occurs when you keep elephants chained as baby they get so used to it that eventually you don’t need to keep them on a chain because they believe it is there and how this did not apply to human relationships at all or did it? She also told us she wrote it for Neil and that he was in the audience that nights which lead to shouts of “We love you Neil” from the crowd. The song was originally recorded at Immogen Heap’s studio using a glockenspiel and now she had said Glockenspiel on stage, using that to play instead of the keyboard. She gave the song to Edward to sing, because she thought it sounded better with his British accent. It was creepy and amazing at the same time. 😀

They played songs from their ‘I can spin a Rainbow’ album, songs of Edward’s Band The Legendary Pink Dots, Amanda’s songs and songs of her band The Dresden Dolls, all in a nice mixture. I did not recognize each song, but loved them all and was surprised about how deeply they moved me. Listening and watching them brought me so much joy. It was even better than I had hoped for. <3

During one of the songs Amanda stepped of the stage to my left and walked right out into the audience, holding bells in both hands, high above her head and jingling them. I could not take my eyes off her and must have had a really stupid grin on my face when she walked past me. Somehow that moment made me feel that she was and that the concert was real, not just a figment of my imagination. It is difficult to explain, but everything came together then, even for my overtired brain and made me enjoy the performance even more.

Patrick stayed in the background most of the time with his violin, but sometimes wandered over to either Edward or Amanda to play next to him. Edward was often at the front of the stage, singing to us and Amanda did the same when she did not need to play keyboards. They are both good storytellers, drawing me in every time they set the mood for a new song. One particularly creepy story started out with Amanda talking about taxis versus Uber, old tradition versus shiny and new and potentially dangerous. It was about her friend Melissa, who was going home from a party in LA when she realized the Uber was taking her way from her house and didn’t know what to do, sending messages about it. The last message was “We’re coming up on a stoplight. I’m gonna jump out.” Then nothing for five minutes, then a picture of the side of a highway and the text “Melissa is fine”. “Who is this?” Nothing for five minutes, then a picture of a shoe on the side of the highway and the text “Melissa is not fine. Can you come pick us up?” With this, Amanda launched into song. She never finished the story and I wanted to shout “What happened to Melissa?” Only the next day she revealed on Twitter thet the first part really happened and the end was written bei Neil. Melissa is fine. Phew! Creepy, but effective. 😀

‘Machete’ started with a long story about her best friend Anthony who was spiritual and peace loving, but also collected knives and told her he would leave them to her when he died. She talked a lot more about what he meant to her and about his struggle with cancer. All her raw emotions found their way into the song. It was raw and at the same time so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. So the first time I saw her perform she managed to make me cry. She and Edward also managed to make me laugh several times even though I cannot remember the context of that. It was the perfect mix of emotions, just what I needed.

The whole night was magical and before it started the people next to me and me had wondered who the special guest she had announced on Twitter might be. We found out at the start of the encores that it was James Rhodes, a pianist and writer she had met at Hay Festival and invited to the stage now. He told us the classical story of Orpheus and Euridike, then playing a piano piece about them which was from the opera by the same tittle. It was pretty damn awesome. He’s agreat player. Meanwhile Amanda was sitting side stage with a glass of wine watching. They hugged, James left and we got a few more songs.

The grand finale was ‘Half Jack’ one of the few songs I knew beforehand. It was the perfect end to one hell of a show. I loved it. For this they were joined by André on the musical saw again. I could not get enough of watching them and felt really sad when the show was over. I had enjoyed it so much, I did not want it to stop. They all hugged each other in the end and bowed for us before walking off with a wave. WOW. Mind? Blown!

Suddenly I was dead tired and all I wanted to do was sleep so I didn’t even bother to find out if Amanda came out after the show or not. In passing I heard she was not going to, but did not verify. The night had already been perfect and I really could use some sleep. I am 100% sure this was not the last time I have seen her live, so there will be other chances of meeting her. Thank you Amanda! Thank you Edward! Thank you Patrick! And thank you James! I loved it!

pictures of this concert

Setlist

1. Intro (Patrick Q. Wright) / The Unlikely Event (Legendary Pink Dots)
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Shalah’s Missing Page
4. The Shock of Kontakt
5. The Clock at the Back of the Cage
6. Golden Dawn (Legendary Pink Dots)
7. Jack of Hands
8. 15 Flies In The Marmalade (Legendary Pink Dots)
9. Beyond The Beach
10. Machete (AFP)
11. Rainbow’s End
12. Melody from Orfeo performed by special guest James Rhodes

ENCORE:
13. The Lovers Part 2 (Legendary Pink Dots)
14. The Lovers Part 1 (Legendary Pink Dots)
15. Half Jack

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