Joulu on taas

Raskasta Joulua – Jäähalli, Helsinki; December 2nd, 2023

It was that time of the year again and I consider myself lucky to have caught a show of Raskasta Joulua in Helsinki. For almost 20 years Finnish Metal singers and their guests have performed (mostly) Finnish Christmas songs in December and it’s nothing short of amazing.

When I planned my trip to Tampere to see Poets of the Fall I knew I was going to be in Finnland for the weekend and checked if Raskasta Joulua would take place anywhere I’d be able to get to. Helsinki, of course, was the perfect place. Traveled there in the morning, spent some time at a cafe, relaxed at my hotel and finally went to the venue. The trams were delayed, but that turned out to be lucky. when I arrived an hour before the doors open, only six people were ahead of me. I easily scored a spot in front row and finally warmed up a little. The venue being Helsinki’s ice hall and a hockey match having taken place the previous day, it was actually quite cold.

The show started at 8 and for 2.5 hours we got to hear beautiful Christmas songs, metal style. It was joyful, it was fun and I even got a little emotional from time to time. We got amazing performances, we got fireworks and we got to hear great singers. There was a break after 45 minutes, but then they pulled out all te stops.

Now I can’t tell you much about the setlist, not even which songs were played, but I can tell you they all sang their hearts out, every member of the awesome band got a moment or two in the spotlight and all the singers shone brightly. They looked like they were having a great time too.

Erkka Korhonen and Tuomas Wäinölä showed their amazing guitar skills, Tuomas always playing next to a fan so his hair was blown back. Mirka Leka Rantanen played all the drums, including a huge gong, Erkki Silvennoinen played a steady bass and Vili Robert Ollila took care of all the jeys while head banging too.

On vocals we had Antony Parvianen, Geoff Tate, Petra Gargano, Ville Tuomi, Pekka Heino, Marko Hietala, Tommi Salmela and Tony Kakko. All of them were fantastic and tamed up in different constellations to sing together. while walking off and on stage they often high fived or fist bumped and generally there was a lot of show of mutual appreciation, giving each other space and watching each other play. Antony Parvianen had a lovely fanboy moment towards the end when he stood in front of the stage, filming Geoff tage with nothing bt awe written on his face. ❤️

I loved everything about it, from the song selection to the fireworks and even did my best to sing along, when we were asked too, even though I had no clue what I was doing. It was a wonderful evening and the perfect way to start the Christmas season. Thank you, Raskasta Joulua, I had a blast.

Cause I can’t let you go

Poets of the Fall – Pakkahuone, Tampere; December 1st, 2023

So here it was, the final show of the 20th anniversary tour, the one I had not planned on attending, but somehow could not stay away from. In the end, I am happy I couldn’t, because it was an amazing show. Well done guys, that’s how you end a tour!

Finland greeted me with snow on Thursday night and despite freezing I enjoyed having real winter. Spent the night in Helsinki and left for Tampere the next day. When I arrived there were already people in line, but I decided to join later. Had food, checked in to my hostel and discovered that C. was in the same room – what a nice surprise. We talked for a while, then she left to get in line, while I relaxed some more. when I joined her 90 minute slater, it didn’t make much of a difference to my position in queue.

It got cold, but eventually they let us in. The coat check was s l o w (at least were I was) and so I ended up on the far right side, but hey, I was at the front and was gonna get a great view of Olli. 😀 There was a nice distance between front row and stage too so I’d be able to see everyone. Now only two more hours to kill until show time, but at least it was warm.

Before the show actually started, I didn’t know if I was ready for it. Was feeling under the weather with an oncoming cold and kinda wanted to go back to bed. The one thing I did know was, that I didn’t feel like taking pictures that night, at least not with my camera. I would just watch and enjoy. Except for the Covid years, I had not seen so few Poets show in one years since the early days, so it was important to make the best of this last one. That came easy, because the band was on fire from the start.

As on the entire tour, it all started with Marko’s voice, announcing the show would start in 10 minutes. People cheered, but then, strangely enough, the ones around me remained quiet and for the first time, I understood all the words. Nice. I felt taken by the hand and carefully lead towards the concert. That evening, it was exactly what I needed to fully arrive and get ready for the show. “What song never fails to uplift your spirits?” – so many of those are yours.

When the music started, we clapped and cheered loudly as the band walked out. Forgotten was my sore throat and how tired I had felt not so long ago. ‘Revelations’ was a great start and I found myself singing along, watching the guys. I had a good view of all of them and just enjoyed seeing them work. Already at the beginning, Olli was standing with Captain, both with big smiles on their faces. I realized I had missed them all.

‘Locking up the sun’ had me jumping as always and I wondered if Marko saw me turning back time, but he hadn’t spotted me yet. Olli, however, saw me during the first song – he almost always does. 🙂 I loved seeing them move around so much, making use of the full stage. The audience was really into it too and with a sold out show, we were loud. It was visible that the band was enjoying that.

For ‘Illusion & Dream’ Captain grabbed Olli’s water bottle and brought it to the front to be used at the appropriate moment. I had an empty cup that I raised and Olli toasted to me. 🙂 “I’ll raise my class and say, here’s to you,” Marko sang and just for a moment I was transported back all those years to when I had discovered them and how that song and those particular lines that made me a fan. The magic is still there! ❤️

Marko wished us a good evening (i think) and announced “a love song” – to me ‘Temple of Thought’ is not a love song, but the love song. I love everything about it and as I waved my arms through the chorus, I felt one with the rest of the audience. 🙂 ‘Rogue’ brought the usual shenanigans and with Glen not being around, Olli and Captain had to do the whole “hand job” movement without him. 😀 The guys were really on fire, playing their heart out and the sound was great too.

They continued with ‘Dreaming wide awake’ and I felt the words as I sang them back to the band. I saw everything I love about them – the teasing, the playing with each other, the smiles. Somewhere during the show I watched Jari laugh really hard and wondered what he was hearing on his in-ears. 🙂 ‘My Dark Disquiet’ kicked ass and it might have been during this song that Jani chose to stand on the speakers on our side. He was in the dark, but it was still fun to watch. At one point earlier, he had spotted me too and indicated as much. 😀 Jaska spent quite some time on our side too and I loved watching him up close.

‘Sleep’ had just Captain and Marko in the spotlight and the lights were really nice overall. Olli picked up the acoustic guitar and Marko asked “Do we have an acoustic song? We do!” (my understanding of Finnish was comparably good that night). It was ‘War’ and it was awesome! I have always loved the song and they played a brilliant version. Towards the end, during Jaska’s solo, Marko and Jani were sitting on the keyboard raiser, just watching, with Jani’s head resting on Marko’s shoulder. 🙂 I enjoyed the little break from jumping, just to move along with the music again during ‘Diamonds 4 Tears’. I got my Marko moment with him coming over and singing to me for a bit. ❤️

With ‘Choice Millionaire’ everyone got to the front of the stage and we all did the whole arms up and down movement with them. There was even more to it than usually and I loved the little changes. 😀 There was a lot of jumping involved too and I got so warm during that workout that I had to take one shirt off. ‘Daze’ was fantastic too and ended with a great sing-along. Marko thanked us for coming and told us that it was a sold out show, then said something about the 20th anniversary and that it all started with this song – it as ‘Late Goodbye’ of course and somewhere during the song, people lit up their phone lights and waved them around. It must have looked great and a final sing along and a stunning guitar solo took us to the end of the set.

With a final “kiitos” and “goodnight!” they walked off, only to be cheered back right away. I could not believe it was almost over already. How did it go by so fast. I smiled as they walked back on stage – just a little bit longer, please. Marko talked for a bit and this time I didn’t understand anything until he asked if we needed a “hissi” = lift. Hell yes! I jumped and sang and watched and felt happy, alive. The grand finale was ‘Carnival of Rust’ of course and I felt very emotional all of a sudden. In all these years, the song has lost none of its appeal. It was just beautiful! ❤️ I filmed it and Marko pointed at me, smiling. When it was over, the guys seemed a bit emotional too. Awww. There was a lot f hugging going on. Olli gave Captain a guitar pic to throw into the crowd. I smiled at all of them. Olli bowed to me and I showed him a heart in response. Much love for all these guys, always. After the photo with us, they walked off one by one, with Jari being the last, enjoying one final moment in the spotlight

It took me a moment to get my bearings I said hello to some people I knew, checked out the merch, hung out and got to talk to Jani and Jaska, who came out in the end. Jani asked me how I had enjoyed the show (a lot) and Jaska noted that I’m not at the front any more usually, so I told him I didn’t want to queue so long. He understood that. Hey, I’ve had my share of front rows. We agreed that it had been a great show. I said goodbye finally and walked out together with C. No after show drinks, sadly and I was really missing some of the usual suspects, but I went back to the hostel happily. This show had been well worth the trip. See you next year.


Locking Up the Sun
Illusion & Dream
Temple of Thought
Dreaming Wide Awake
My Dark Disquiet
Diamonds for Tears
Choice Millionaire
Late Goodbye

Carnival of Rust