Pakkahuone, Tampere, 9 May 2007
Compared to Satu, who wrote the first part of this "Kamelot In Finland" saga, I'm quite new to Kamelot's music. I have to admit that I used to dismiss them as "just another power metal band" and never really paid any attention to their music. That was before I heard "Karma" a few years ago, their melodic metal masterpiece which made me realize that they are definitely not "just another power metal band". They had more melodies and hooks than your average melodic metal groups, the lyrics were more diverse, the arrangements more interesting and on top of everything, they had Khan, a vocalist clearly in his own league.
Kamelot were booked to play in Finland already last year, but due to various circumstances, they had to cancel. This year they made up for it, and arrangements for 2 gigs were made. As Satu and Kari were closer to Helsinki, me and Mira chose to see the band in Tampere, the biggest inland city of Finland and a major industrial centre. The venue Pakkahuone is a restored industrial building with a nice athmosphere, the traditional red brick walls make it quite cosy - even while there's a metal band delivering a wall of sound on stage! A nice venue indeed.
The support act Leave's Eyes begun their set a few minutes behind the schedule, and recieved a rather enthusiastic response. They obviously had a fair share of their fans among the crowd, who were enjoying themselves, but whether they made any new ones I don't know. The band had two front persons, the fairy-like, ethreal female vocalist Liv-Kristine and the tall, dark and menancing male growler Alex. They had a kind of a "Beauty And The Beast" thing going on, somewhat reminding me of Marco and Tarja in Nightwish, but taken to an extreme.
The band started with only Liv-Kristine singing lead, and while she was OK, she didn't seem to have a grasp of the audience. It all changed when the extremely long haired Alex jumped on the stage, effortlessly assuming the role of a Master of Ceremony. As the set went on, the balance between the two stayed similar, with Liv-Kristine concetrating on her vocals and Alex working the audience and growling like a metal monster. Another remarkable band member was the bassist, who seemed to be giving a serious punishment for his instrument by slapping it furiously. Funky Viking Metal?
I can't say too much about the Leave's Eyes songs, as I wasn't familiar with them before the gig. None of them sounded like an instant "hit" in a live setting, and frankly now that a few days have passed, I can't really remember them anymore.
As the beginning of the Kamelot set came closer, the main floor started to become more crowded. When the intro tape started playing, the years of anticipation were finally over for Finnish Kamelot fans, and they truly showed their appreciation.
The band kicked off with the fast "When The Lights Are Down" and "Soul Society" from their last studio album "The Black Halo". That album was heavily featured in the set, as they played four other tracks from it AND the Japanese bonustrack "Epilogue". The die-hard fans lapped it all up, but I was a bit disappointed of the Halo's dominance. Of course that's only my personal prefereance, the hundreds of Kamelot fans attending the show obviously had a different opinion as the raised their fists and sang along. But still... I think that many of them would have chosen a few songs from "Karma" or "Epica" over the very long "Memento Mori" or the gentle ballad "Epilogue".
The three new tracks in the set were a special treat for the fans who are eagerly awaiting the release of "Ghost Opera". First up was "Mourning Star" which sounded good, but didn't leave a lasting impression. It might require a few more spins... the same could be said of "Human Stain" and "Ghost Opera" - not instant hits, but I'll certainly give them another chance when the album is released.
After the first few numbers, the overall vibe of the gig calmed down a bit, as the band played some slightly more "demanding" tracks and solo-type of stuff. There wasn't too much of the usual kind of soloing though, instead the band played a rocking instrumental track. Drummer Casey Grillo and the new keyboardist Oliver Palotai did get longer moments of their own in the spotlight. Both proved to be good entertainers, especially Palotai with a very un-metal keyboard solo.
The last two songs of the main set raised the intensity to the highest level again, them being two real crowd-pleasers. First of them was "The Haunting" and it featured the talents of Simone Simons from Epica (the band, not the album!), and the second was "Forever", the already classic hit from "Karma", which is based on Edward Grieg's "Solveig's Song" from "Peer Gynt". The spontaneous "hey-hey-hey" chants during the song were a bit of a surprise to the band, and they seemed quite awestruck by the crowd's energy.
The encores included the dramatic title track of the new album "Ghost Opera", the aforementioned "Epilogue" and the superb "Karma". The evening was ended with "March Of Mephisto", one of the key tracks of "The Black Halo". It went down a storm, drawing even some of the most persistent drinkers from the bar area to bang their head closer to the stage.
I don't think that anyone left the Pakkahuone disappointed, and I'm pretty sure that the band had a good time too. It was a honour to be a part of such an enthusiastic audience, who really made the show something quite special. Even though many of my favourite Kamelot songs weren't in the setlist, the show was great and the band was truly on fire.
Report by Kimmo Toivonen,