Poets of the Fall – Ilona Live Carnival, Seinäjoki; July 9th 2011
The most memorable moment of last night’s gig was Marko hugging us all. I don’t remember which song it was, but at one point he took us all in with a gesture of his hand and then hugged himself. A very beautiful moment.
The entire gig was magical somehow, everything fit, from the rain, drumming on the canvas over our heads to the warm night air filled with wonderful music. I felt nothing but love for the friends surrounding me, and for the band on stage that I had come here for. No one who has never been there can truly understand the magic of a Poets of the Fall concert. It is impossible to describe what it feels like to watch them on stage doing what they love, their interactions, the looks, the smiles, hear their friendly banter and see the subtle and not so subtle little gestures that show how much they truly are a band, a team that works well together and where each member knows he can rely on the others. Words, pictures or even videos cannot show the energy that flows between the Poets and their audience when they play, the sparks flying, invisibly and the connections they make with those who are lucky enough to witness the gig.
There’s Jari, who, when let loose, drums like the animal from the Muppet show, but usually holds back, driving the songs just as much as they need to be driven, finding the perfect beat for every mood. He looks so serious and concentrated at times, but once he really gets into it there’s always that big smile on his face, showing how much he loves what he’s doing.
There’s Jani, the impersonation of the quiet bass man who leaves the spotlight to others most of the time. When he walks the stage he does so in long, determined strides. He knows where he’s going, he is comfortable with being the one the others can lean on – metaphorically and at times, literally, his bass lines giving the songs richness and warmth and his happy smile giving the audience something to hang on to.
Jaska, the guitar man, who loves being a rockstar, drinks in the admiration of the audience and always encourages us to participate, clap along, gets the show moving. His guitar playing adds flavor to the songs, and watching him play riffs, dueling with Olli is fun to see, but the moments that truly shine through are those where he plays the acoustic guitar, building melodies that make a song’s character.
There is Captain, who runs the show from behind the keyboards. He stands there, smiling mysteriously, knowing the secret ingredients for making the show whole. His arrangements hold it all together, his intros and outtros creating the magic that makes the songs special, that makes the show be more than the sum of its parts. Like the true magician that he is, he stands there, looking cool, overseeing everything.
Olli, who seems so lost in his guitar playing that one wonders if he notices anything or anyone around him. His solos are at the heart of the songs, the melodies he plays carrying the softer parts of the show. With all the concentration on playing he still manages to watch the audience, smiling at people, making connections.
And last but not least Marko, the showman, who owns every stage and can take over any audience within minutes, who sings like no one else does, adding just the right amount of emotion to every song. He does not stand still much, always moving, walking, twisting, turning or bouncing like a rubber ball. It’s fascinating to watch him do all the rock star poses and he does so beautifully, but what differentiates him from everyone else and really makes him unique are those moments when he forgets all about performing or posing for the cameras. The times he goes completely crazy on stage and does whatever comes to mind, when he shows his love for the music and being on stage, when the rockstar mask falls and the real emotions come through.
I don’t have the words to express what’s it’s like to see Jari go wild behind the drums or Captain crack up laughing, to watch Jani, completely lost in the groove or Jaska transforming into a guitar hero. I can’t describe what it’s like when Olli’s face changes expression from total concentration to a radiant smile. And I sure cannot tell you what it feels like when Marko looks into your eyes and the world outside ceases to exist for a while.
These little things make the shows what they are – magical, amazing, wonderful. For this one, something special was in the air. From the first notes of ‘Dreaming wide awake’ to the encore of ‘Carnival of Rust’ it was just the right amount of energy, audience participation and fun. Everyone was having such a great time that the Poets even came out for a second encore that was not on the setlist. They gave us ‘Roses’ as a last gift, then held hands and bowed before they disappeared backstage and into the night.
It had been a long day, starting from Salo around 10 in the morning in K.’s car, getting to Seinäjoki around 3 p.m., hanging out, meeting up with G. and C., getting in some time after 6 p.m. and standing in front row for about 6 hours and 2 bands before the lights went out and it was time for Poets of the Fall. However, being able to watch the guys on stage and being part of such a great gig made it all worthwhile. When it was over, it took us quite some time to get our bearings and leave too. On the long drive to Jyväskylä (where my hotel was located) we relived the moments.
Dreaming wide awake
The ultimate Fling
Can you hear me
Locking up the sun
Given and denied
Diamonds for tears
Illusion and dream
Carnical of Rust