Poets of the Fall – Helsinki, Jäähalli; September 30th 2016
Sometimes when people ask me why I love Poets of the Fall and what is so special I find it hard to explain. Words often seem to fall short in trying to convey what it is like to see them live, to be part of the community and part of a concert where the band in interaction with the audience becomes something larger than life. More often than not I might end up saying something along the lines of “You have to see them live to understand”. Mere words just cannot capture the magic. Last night, at the CD release concert for their latest album ‘Clearview’ I found myself constantly thinking “This! There!” wishing I could show it to all the people who don’t seem to understand. From the moment the lights went down all the way until they went back on it was a magical rush of emotions and energy that carried me through, away from the world, time and space long forgotten. It was jaw-droppingly awesome all the way, a natural high that lasted long after the gig was over and so beautiful that it was almost too much to bear. Not having listened to the album before the show I didn’t know what to expect and was fully ready to be surprised. It turned out to be a great decision because the new songs just blew me off my feet. Not only that, but everything on the setlist was perfect. The sound was fresh, the lights were amazing and the band just rode on a wave of energy that was multiplied by the audience. I smiled all the way through and broke down crying in between, all the way singing along at the top of my lungs or screaming myself hoarse. In short: It was one hell of a ride that left me lost for words.
It was a long trip to Helsinki via Copenhagen and since this was an early concert I ended up going straight to the venue from the airport. Met S., Z. and L. there and stood in line with them and others for the meet & greet. I wasn’t even excited until just before they let us in, didn’t feel it yet. It felt weird to have such an early gig in Finland and having a meet & greet here to, but that’s the way things are now and no matter how much I miss the old times when they just used to come out after the gig those are gone. Either way, I was looking forwards to seeing them and especially to hearing new material, wondering what else they would put on the setlist. The doors opened, excited people walked in, Nina told us what the drill was, how the guys had been looking forward to the gig all day and soon they came to meet us.
People were shy at first, but then got closer, chatted, got pictures. I walked around talking to each one in turn, telling them how I had not listened to the album and wanted to hear the songs live before I heard them on CD. I was so happy to see the guys and hug all of them again. They were nervous about the gig, but generally in a good mood and excited to introduce the new show to us. It was all very relaxed and I got to chat with each of them a little bit. Mostly we were joking of me not having listened to Clearview and not buying it if I didn’t like the songs. Captain was nice about it, not mentioning anything other than that they are playing the A-Side of the album. I asked Marko how long he had needed to come up with the first answer in the interview I did with him, because it was such a nicely constructed sentence (and terribly hard to translate). He smiled that it didn’t take him long and wondered if people had even heard the album. I assured him they had. Jani then insisted on taking a picture with me. OK, sure. They turned out really nice too. Jari joked about me wanting to try something new with not listening to the album, saying it was either trying heroin or that. 😀 After that I went back to Captain and complained that a CD release concert should have all the songs from said CD. He explained that they were hard to rehearse and they wanted to have a chance to switch mid tour. Totally makes sense. 🙂 He also said he thinks of me when making a setlist, because i come to so many shows <3 and I assured him that it never gets boring. Finally Nina gathered them all for a group picture or tried, but at first it was only Jani and Captain so we joked that they were already all the cool a picture could take and my camera might explode if everyone was in the picture.
Once it was over we had to wait quite some time, but two support acts came to entertain us. Sebastian Reyman was really nice. I enjoyed his set a lot and the band was really good too. Only when he introduced them I realized that the drummer was Teijo Jämse, who had played with Poets that one summer Jari didn’t have time. Cool! Softengine, the second support that is going to stay for all the Finnish gigs was not so much my cup of tea. The first few songs were OK, but overall they were a bit too loud for me and quite a few songs seemed alike. It was quite listenable though.
Preparations ensued to get the stage ready for Poets of the Fall. It already looked great with a new backdrop and the horse chess figure on each side. It was a huge stage too with a pretty big distance to front row that made me feel like being in Russia. After Softengine’s instruments were cleared, the crew hung a large semi-transparent curtain at the front of the stage and I wondered what they were going to do with it. It looked interesting for sure. 🙂 Once that was done, the lights went down and we didn’t have to wait much longer.
I expected intro music, but the guys walked out quietly this time. Marko stood on stage, illuminated from behind with his shadow thrown on the curtain in front. It looked quite beautiful. The music started and Marko sang a song I didn’t recognize. I later learned that it was ‘Shadow Play’, but not the full song. I was watching mesmerized as the shadow moved in blue light and the guys started playing. The curtain dropped and they launched into ‘Drama for Life’ – I was loving it already and sang along at the top of my lungs. The sound was powerful and well balanced, much louder than usually in Finland. The new lights were amazing too. It was jaw-droppingly beautiful.
‘Daze’ was next, so powerful it blew me away. It felt as if the guys were on overdrive. The fully used the big stage with Jari and Captain being on platforms in the back and everyone else moving around at the front. To my surprise. they had changed the basic setup with Olli and Jaska trading places. So being on the left as usual, I suddenly found myself in front of Jaska. It felt weird. 😉 I loved their playing and I loved their outfits. Marko was wearing a jacket with tons of patches, buttons and metal spikes. Together with Jani’s current mohawk hairdo they almost looked like a punk band. 😀 Jaska and Captain were all black, with Captain’s shirt having loads of cool details, Olli as usual in black shirt with light tie and Jari the opposite: white shirt and black tie. Great look everyone! They all looked happy too, visibly relaxing after the first few songs and the audience response to them. 🙂
An unfamiliar song started and it was time for me to listen trying to catch the words. I instantly liked ‘The Child in me’, started smiling as soon as it began. ‘Dreaming wide awake’ and ‘Diamonds for tears’ (really, they still are not giving that one a rest? ;)) took me back to familiar territory before another new song came up. Marko announced that it was called ‘The Game’. It reminded me of something I could not put my finger on, something in the melody and flow of the music seemed so familiar. Either way, it instantly got to me. First verse in I was crying. I didn’t catch all the words, but enough of them to hit me. I could not stop the tears, elicited by words that touched me deeply and pure happiness about the music I loved. :’) Stefan Boman’s words of “like a kiss and a punch in the face” echoed in my mind and I knew exactly what he had meant now, at the same time happy that it worked for me and surprised that it was quite different from what I had expected. After all these years I should have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to Poets of the Fall, but they still never cease to amaze me. 😀
As if we didn’t have enough awesomeness yet, we got an acoustic song, ‘Stay’ with just Marko, Jaska and Olli. <3 Then, during ‘Someone Special’ the others came back. The rendition was beautiful and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that one live before. If so, not in a long time. ‘Once upon a playground rainy’ instantly had me smiling again. I kept looking at the guys, nodding, trying to convey how much I love the new songs. They all smiled right back at me. Trying to take it all in, seeing everything, noticing all the little gestures was all sorts of wonderful. Once again they showed their appreciation for each other, changing positions to watch the others play,joking with each other or leaning on to each other. The little things… so many of them. Two moments I remember were Marko moving out on the boxes in front of the stage while Nina watched from below and being handed a rose from the crowd and Jani looking at and singing with me during ‘Running out of Time’ until I completely blacked out on the lyrics. Another is Captain coming to the front to check out the and conduction our sing-along from behind the keyboards.
The set ended with ‘Locking up the sun’ and ‘Carnival of Rust’. It had gone by so quickly I felt hardly any time could have passed. I was deeply moved and did not want the concert to end. For the encore Olli came out alone and sat down on a bar chair, illuminated by a single light. He played a beautiful guitar piece I did not recognize so I expected the final new song of the night. However, when the others joined him, it turned into ‘War’. That came completely unexpected. With the first notes every memory connected to the song and the years they played it often came rushing back to me, washing over me like a wave. It reminded me of the tough times I was going through back then and how the band became my lifeline when I needed something to hold on to. Even now, as I am writing this I cannot stop the tears that came with it. I felt shaken to the core, but in a good way. It all served as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how long this band has been part of my life. :’)
‘Lift’ then brought back tons of positive energy and all tears forgotten I was jumping, smiling happily. The last song of the night was ‘Children of the sun’, a very beautiful end to a beautiful show. I felt completely drained when they finished and wanted to climb up on stage and hug them all. They waved as they left, throwing us kisses. Once they were gone it took a little while before the lights went back on or music started. I expected people to yell and clap for more, but nobody did. I tried, but alone there was nothing to be done. The lights went on and I looked at my friends in a happy daze, then hugged each one of them. What a great great show it was! It could not have been any better. Thank you, Poets of the Fall, for giving me just what I needed. I love you.
Intro: Shadow Play
Drama for Life
The Child in Me
Dreaming Wide Awake
Diamonds for Tears
Running Out of Time
Once Upon a Playground Rainy
Locking Up the Sun
Carnival of Rust
Children of the Sun
Clearview tour 2016/17: 1 gig down, 21 to go, next stop: Tampere