A Poetic Birthday

Poets of the Fall – Lomakeskus Sieravuori; August 1st 2008

After a short night, I boarded a bus to Eura on July 31st  and spent the ride daydreaming. The holiday resort where the concert was going to be held, offered me pickup service from the bus station, so I didn’t have to worry how to get there.

The first thing I did when I arrived at my mökki was hang my Prowlers of the Fall banner in the window. Then I went for a long walk and felt calm for the first time in months. There is something about Finland that helps me relax. Must be the secret power of the many lakes or the fact that it is OK to just sit with friends and not talk for a change. No other country has this effect on me.

How I spent the rest of this day and the first half following one is not of interest here, so on to the afternoon of August 1st:

Aside from enjoying the fact that I got a concert for my birthday I was on a mission. I had a poster printed of a pop art I made and wanted to get it signed by the entire band. I knew my chance would come soon when I saw the tourbus arrive and the guys moved into the row of cabins parallel to the one I was staying in. I must admit I have done some stalking in my time, but to look out and see Ollie walk by just below my window was somewhat surreal. Even more so when he came back, looked up, grinned and made me wonder if my banner was the reason for it.

Later that afternoon I decided to hang out near the backstage entrance with some other fans. Soundcheck could still be heard so we sat and chatted for a bit. Jani came out and the others called him, asking if he’d take a picture (at least I assume that is what they said, as they spoke Finnish). Jani took pictures with them, then I took out my poster and asked him to sign it. He did, but didn’t comment on what he saw. Jari was next. Again, the girls called him over and he took pictures with them. He looked at my poster and really confused me by asking if the pics were from Denmark. While I pondered how the hell he knew, I told him most of them were. We talked a bit more, but I didn’t ask how he knew. That comment was just too unexpected. Captain came out too, but walked away quickly and by the time I realized the girls had already seen him earlier he was gone. The others had either left already or no intention to. Two autographs down, 4 to go.

I kept hanging out since I had no idea when they would open the doors. All I knew was that the show would start around midnight. More people arrive and the  doors opened at 9:30 and I was the first one in. As I usually do I took up position in front of the stage, slightly right of center. The really funny thing was that only the three girls whom I had met outside joined me while everyone else was more interested in getting drinks or sitting at one of the tables. The typical small concert phenomenon. We sat down (I even got a chair) and chatted, kept joking about how hard we had to fight to save the spots in front for each other whenever one of us left.

The stage was extremely small, even smaller than the one at the Lux, I think and triangular. Jari’s drums were in the back corner, Captain’s Mac right next to it, Spots for Ollie and Jani on the left, for Jaska on the right. They had even built a small platform in front of the “stage” to make room for Marko’s mic. No barrier, no distance, just a rope to keep us from sitting on the stage. We used it to hang our hoodies over it until being told not to. Also the stage was open underneath so this is where we stored our things. Weird, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.

About half an hour before showtime I put my chair away. More people inside, but still only 6 people in front of the stage. That changed quickly when Einari showed up on stage to check the guitars. Suddenly, there was a large group of people behind us.

Once again, they came on stage one by one, Jaska, Jani and Marko all in tank tops i.e. underwear and left me wondering if they got them cheaper by the dozen.;) Marko seemed to have forgotten his usual sweatbands / wristbands / leather bracelets too, but showed fashing sense by wearing what looked like pieces of a white plastic bag around the wrists – white to match the shirt. The other three wore black; a golf shirt in Captain’s case and T-Shirts in case of Ollie and Jari. But enough talk about fashion =P, I was there for the music after all.

Once they were all on stage I realized just how small and oddly shaped it was. I could hardly see Jari and Captain all night since Jaska was blocking them. Ollie was in the far left corner of the triangle. Unfortunately there was a column a little to my right so I could hardly see him as well. Marko, however, was right in front of me most of the time, close enough to touch – literally. I did spend a few moments pondering whether I should try.

The setlist was the same as at the Lux but the gig was much better. Better atmosphere, better audience, good sing along and somehow more passion. The guys seemed a lot more into it and I had a lot more fun (if that is even possible). The sound was better too. Unfortunately, the lighting was not so taking pictures was not easy. Also, the mic stand was in the way all the time and Marko really didn’t know where to put it.

There were some funny moments, but the best must have been when Einari came on stage with drinks. I have no clue what it was, some dark brown liquid (Jägermeister?). First he passed out glasses to Jari and Ollie, then returned with two more, giving one to Jani and walking right past Marko, giving the second one to Captain. Marko watched him the entire time and the look on his face was just priceless. Whatever it was, the last glass went to Jaska and since he was busy playing guitar, Einari had to feed him.

All in all a great gig. As usual I just wished it could have been longer, but it can never be enough anyway. I was happy to hear ‘Passion colors everything’ again and the others songs I loved so much. It was a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday. 😀

After the show I grabbed the setlist off the stage and made my way out. Walked about and keep watching the backstage entrance. Jaska, the sole smoker of the band was out first and Jari joined him soon. First I thanked them for a great gig, then asked Jaska if he’d sign something. I unrolled the poster for Jaska. He saw it and freaked out: “This is the best poster I have ever seen. Better than any of ours.” He loved the colors and everything else about it. “You got to get me one of those! Are you on facebook?” I told him I was not, but promised that he’d get one somehow. He liked it so much that he decided the others needed to see it too and proceeded to knock on the backstage door with both fists. “Hey guys! Come out here! You have got to see this!” Never, not even in my wildest dreams did I expect such a reaction.

Captain, Ollie and Jani came out. They all liked it too asked me about making it and if I took the pictures too. I explained about the pictures being from Denmark except for Jaska’s, which is from Helsinki. Thus Jani aksed me if I was from Denmark and I told him I was from Germany. He asked me where I was from and I said “Dortmund” which he seemed to know. Suddenly he spoke German. Now that was too much for me. I don’t think I reacted all that well and I certainly didn’t think of speaking German as well. Sorry! Maybe next time we meet I’ll manage to tell him that I was just too surprised. Ollie didn’t say much but liked the picture too, Captain thought is was cool. They both gladly signed it.

Before Ollie, Jani and Captain went back inside I thanked them for the gig too and told them it was my birthday gig. They all congratulated me and I said something like “Well, it’s over now, but in some time zone …” Captain laughed really hard about that one.

I asked Jari how he knew the pictures were from Denmark and he told me he recognized the drumset which he only played there. I must admit I would not even have known it was different from his usual one. He also asked me how long I was staying in Finland and I told him that I would be going to Ankkarock, then home on Monday. He assured me I’d love Ankkarock, because it was a nice and small festival. Before Jari went back inside, I asked about Marko, but he had already gone to bed. I wished Jari a good night and left.

Five autographs down, one to go.

I was totally wound up after this and went for a walk on the beach before going to bed. Was lying there unable to sleep thinking about what had just happened. Put on my headphones, started the POTF playlist with the songs from the gig and somewhere between ‘Diamonds for Tears’ and ‘Late Goodbye’ I fell asleep. Woke up when the last song was over and took off the headphones. It was already getting light outside when I finally slept.

I had my mind set on meeting Marko before they left so I woke up early the next morning. First I checked if the tourbus was still there – it was. Around ten the bus was moved and the roadies started packing. I kept watching but felt silly sitting there so I just walked around, sometimes sitting in my cabin, sometimes elsewhere. Around noon I decided to go and sit by the tour bus and not a moment to soon. When I went over there I saw Marko from the corner of my eye – perfect timing.

Sat down on a wall and waited for him. When he arrived I asked nicely if he’d be so kind to sign something for me. He said sure, just a moment and took his bag on the bus first. When he came back I unrolled the poster and told him he was the only one missing. He: “Yeah, the others told me you did something like that.” I: “…” (speechless). I regained speech soon after, but we didn’t talk much more. All the questions I had had on my mind earlier were gone and I had the feeling it was not the right time to ask them, but I thanked him for the gig too and told him I enjoyed it. He was gone soon and I sat there with weak knees smiling like a loon, feeling about 16 years old. That was downright weird considering I had just turned 36, but weird in a good way. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I felt.

On the bus back to Helsinki the tiredness and all the bottled up emotions of the past weeks caught up with me. The tears I had expected during the concert finally came out. It was not that I was sad, just that with all the stress in my life suddenly far away it felt good to cry a bit. I looked out at the country I had fallen in love with by now, smiled and let the tears flow. This entire trip was exactly the right thing to do and I would not have wanted to miss it for the world


The ultimate fling
Diamonds for Tears
Sorry go round
Passion colors everything
Miss impossible
Illusion & Dream
Carnival of Rust
Late goodbye

back to part one of my trip
on to part three

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