The show must go on

Poets of the Fall – Rock Kemmut, Jyväskylä; August 26th, 2017

Rock Kemmut, the last Poets of the Fall concert of this summer, possible the last concert of this year with no tour dates on the horizon other than early November where I’ll be at Iceland Airwaves. Thus, I was really looking forward to this gig – if I was not going to see them again this year, at least I wanted it to end with a party. The other bands playing looked interesting too and despite the weather forecast of 6-9 degrees C and rain (in August! Welcome to Finland!) I was planning to have fun. I did, it is impossible not to have fun at a Poets of the Fall concert, but I really felt sorry for them, because they had to play with severe technical problems that seem to be unfixable. Thus, the last gig was fun, but it was not the high point of the tour the band and the fans had been hoping and I really wish there was something any of us could have done to make it better. In the end I am just grateful they played at all, because they could have just canceled last minute and instead they chose to deliver and even smile through it. That, above all, deserves praise.

The day started with a bus ride to Jyväskylä together with S. and A. from sunny Helsinki towards ever darkening skies closer to arrival. Luckily it was not raining any more when we arrived and after checking in we just had time for some food before getting in line at the venue. The instructions regarding cameras on their website had been confusing at best (“you are allowed SLR cameras”,”you are not allowed professional SLR cameras”, with no indication whatsoever what the consider “professional”). Since my camera is technically not a pro camera, I took it along and asked at the door, only to have to return it to my hotel. Oh well, it is nice not to take pictures from time to time. The opened at 5 and despite loads of people with VIP tickets being inside before we got there, we easily made front row. So far, so good. A. joined us moments later and J. came over to say hello. That was it in terms of familiar faces in the crowd until we saw T. and S. much later.

Irina was the first one to play and we had some huge fans to our right who were screaming through most of the gig. They also did a nice job singing along and she acknowledged them. 🙂 I quite liked her set, the band was good and I felt entertained. The songs did not particularly move me, but they were very listenable and the band had good energy. The variety of different styles surprised me so it did not get boring. The hour she played went by quickly. It was a good start. Thankfully, quite a few people had come to see her and kept us warm. There was a 30 minute break between bands that we spent chatting and having a bite to eat.

Next up was Juha Tapio and I had heard good things about him, but didn’t really know what his music was like so I was quite curious. He was amazing! Great music, great energy and great charisma too. I liked the band a lot, specially because they had a brass section with a saxophone / German flute and a trumpet. Apart from that the usual drum, bass, keyboard and guitar. Some of the band members looked awfully familiar too, but I have no idea where I might have seen them before. Either way, they were really good and Juha was just brilliant, delivering his songs with passion, moving all over the stage and always urging us to participate. He made me smile so much, because he always asked us to scream or sing along and mock pouted if he was not satisfied with the amount of noise he made. I instantly fell in love with his performance, especially when he jumped off the stage and shook hands with or hi-fived pretty much everyone in front row. He even hugged a few people and in the end, when he came back towards the center I held out my hand for a hi-five and instead he grabbed it with one hand, grabbed A.’s hand with the other and stepped up on the barrier in front of us. He then let go of my hand and leaned out towards the audience briefly. One perfect moment that was even captured in a picture. When he returned to the stage his face read “Oh, shit, how am I going to get up there again?”, but he managed, jumped, pulled himself up and then sort of rolled back onto the stage. He turned it into part of the performance and crawled back to his mic. Later on he jumped off again and sang to us, then asked us to sing the chorus. I pretended as best as I could without knowing the lyrics. He and the band seemed to be enjoying their gig as well. Their set was so much fun, I smiled for a long time afterwards and instantly decided I need a CD or a few. I would not mind going to see him again either. 😉

Neljä Ruusua I had last seen five years ago in Tampere at another festival (Lost in Music, I think) they played on the same stage as Poets. I had good memories and I was not disappointed. They are just fun to watch and with so many years of stage experience, they know exactly what to do and can count on most people knowing their songs. The singer apparently had lots of fun and he let us sing half of some songs. He also seemed high so I turned to my friends and proclaimed that I wanted some of whatever he was on. The band played well, I recognized some songs even and they were highly entertaining. There wasn’t anything more we could have asked for. 🙂

Once they were done and people on stage were busy setting it up for our guys, I felt the excitement grow. We had had a lot of fun so far, but this was what we had really come for. The audience behind us seemed to completely switch around and it got uncomfortably squishy, especially with some rude girls right behind us trying to get as close as possible. Oh well, I knew they’d move back as soon as I started jumping and I planned to jump a lot. 😛

Setting up the stage was done quickly, but then Glen was still fiddling with something from time to time and talking to someone via radio, while everyone else seemed to be waiting. After a while we realized that something must be seriously wrong, because he did not look happy at all and soon after they switched on some music to play over the sound system. This went on for a while with Captain coming and looking at the computer and fiddling with the sound board and everyone still not looking happy. Time passed and when it was 15 minutes after they should have started, I got seriously worried they might not be able to fix things and just cancel.

They didn’t. Their music started and we immediately noticed what the problem was. The sound kept dropping and coming back at intervals. I did not check my watch, but it felt like every two minutes of playing there was a short gap with no sound at all except for the drums. It got better during the set. but it never was completely fixed. In reaction to this, we doubled our efforts to sing and scream along, being extra supportive. So every time the sound dropped, you could hear us singing.

The guys just made the best of it. There was nothing they could do to fix things so apparently they decided that the show must go on and gave everything they had. I was wondering how much of it they actually heared, assuming their in ear systems are independent from the sound that we hear. Then again, even if you can’t hear everything the complete absence of sound must be noticeable even through those. Either way, they went on and performed as best as they know how, even smiling through the whole thing which must have been hard. I felt very sorry for them and kept dancing and singing trying to show them I was having fun anyway. We all did and it was fun. Nothing can spoil their gigs. I really hoped that some of our energy got transported to stage and made them feel a little better.

I still enjoyed watching them play together, sticking out tongues at each other, joking with the photographer on stage and just being a tad crazy as usual. Whenever the sound dropped it was a bit like watching a pantomime. It never lasted long, probably never more than a second and their energy compensated for a lot of that. They had decided the show must go on and on it went. They must have felt shitty about it, but they did not show and we did not let them down. Towards the end, during ‘Lift’ I had a moment with Jaska when we sang together and he smiled at me after. <3

The set was a little shorter than it was supposed to with them leaving out ‘Drama for Life’ and the final ‘Children of the sun’. When it was over, S.noticed Glen making a crying gesture to Olli showing “I’m so sorry”. It broke my heart. We will file this under “Shit happens”, because sometimes there is just nothing anyone can do and at the end of the day I am just happy they played and did not let us down. Thank you for that guys, I can only repeat how much I appreciated it. We all did. We did our best not to let you down either, knowing none of this was your fault. I hope you know we are not blaming you for anything and we had fun anyway. I really wanted to give you all a big hug afterwards, but that was not possible, so words will have to do. Thank you for the music, thank you for this concert. I have no regrets about coming to see you and I hope to see you again soon.

Setlist

Shadow Play (intro)
Dreaming wide awake
Illusion & Dream
Daze
Diamonds for Tears
Temple of Thought
Locking up the Sun
Carnival of Rust
Lift

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