"Maata Näkyvissä" is a 3-day festival for the Christian youth of Finland. What started as a low-key celebration in honour of one Timo Vainio, who passed away in 1985, has grown to be the biggest Christian youth event in Scandinavia. This year it attracted 11 500 people to its' main concert. Compared to the previous events, I believe there were quite a few new faces among the crowd, people who are not necessarily very religious. What draw them to the festival was the first Finnish concert of Christian Metal legends STRYPER. For many, this was a different kind of a concert experience, as there was no alcohol available and the Christian message was very much upfront. Personally, I found the alcohol- and drug-free environment to be very nice. Still, there were some attempts to organize a "circle pit" during the Stryper gig, which I found to be very out-of-place and idiotic, proving that you don't have to be drunk to be stupid. The security was thankfully doing their job, and stopped this behaviour before it really started. I guess I'm too old to understand the fascination of slamming into each other mindlessly?


Tatsi Haveri - bass, vocals
Sami Haveri - keys, vocals
Jussi Salo - guitar, b. vocals
Pasi Ahola - drums

Taneli Törölä - guitars (additional tour guitarist)

Most of the members of The Rain are my old schoolmates, and I've kept an eye on their career every now and then. I guess it's safe to say that they've reached the pinnacle of their career so far, playing to a crowd of 11 000, and second on the bill topped by the biggest Christian metal band of the world!

The last time I saw the band was a few years ago on the same festival, when Petra were headlining. They played hours before Petra, but they had a sizeable audience already then, and people knew the songs quite well. Now they were truly worthy of their slot in the line-up, taking use of the big stage and rocking out as if stadium-sized gigs were nothing out of the ordinary to them!

Despite the band's monicker, The Rain sing in Finnish. Considering the effect they had on the audience, it'd be interesting to see how far they could go with English lyrics - I'm sure that their music would appeal to most of our readers anyway. They've got some truly excellent songs with killer hooks, and during this gig they played many of them. My personal favourites were "Kasvot" and "Hulluutta". The last couple of songs of the set weren't necessarily the best choices, them being rather slow and less exciting, flattening down the overall athmosphere of the gig a bit. But still, the band has come a long way, and are deservedly one of the biggest Christian bands in Finland. It's a shame that their lyrics might prevent them from crossing over to the mainstream, but on the other hand, I'm sure that they are where they want to be.

There was a 45-minute interval between The Rain and The Stryper, and it was filled with "Festival-TV" show on the screens, and a couple of short special numbers (a juggler?!), which didn't really set the house on fire. Then it was time for the Yellow And Black Attack, as the striped ones stormed the stage!


Michael Sweet - vocals, guitar
Robert Sweet - drums
Oz Fox - guitar, b. vocals
Tracy Ferrie - bass, b. vocals

The familiar marching beat of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic" marked that something was about to happen, and there wasexcitement in the air. The Strypers took the stage one by one, except for the frontman Michael Sweet, who kept the audience waiting for the first "real" song. The familiar riff kicked off "The Way" and Mr. Sweet took charge of the festivities. While many 80's rockers are merely a shadow of themselves these days, Michael Sweet doesn't seem to have aged much at all. He was in constant motion for most of the show, and what's more, he seemed to nail every note. When it comes to Stryper, that's really saying something!

For "More Than A Man" Michael Sweet picked up his guitar, and held onto it for most of the songs. He and Oz Fox played some really cool dual leads, while the "new guy" Tracy Ferrie and the "visual timekeeper" Robert Sweet kept the beat going. Robert's drums were still sideways like back in the 80'ies, and he was a bit of a showman. He must have taken his vitamins, as earlier that day in the press conference he seemed to be on the verge of falling asleep!

The trademark Stryper harmonies were provided by Fox and Ferrie, who did a good job. I think that the band relied on the own voices only, as the harmonies didn't sound too polished. Of course they had a few thousand eager backing vocalists in the audience too! Even the youngsters seemed to know the lyrics by heart.

From where I was standing, I didn't notice a keyboard player anywhere, although Stryper have had one on their earlier tours. Then again, I didn't notice any keyboards being played either, except for "Honestly". We were treated to a piano/vocal version of the hit ballad with only Michael on stage, and I guess the piano parts came from a tape.

The stage itself was rather awesome, with rows of yellow and black boxes hanging from the ceiling, and big screens where you could read the lyrics. There was a camera crew filming the show for even bigger screens on both sides of the stage, and the lighting was quite excellent too. It wasn't all grand entertainment though, as in the end of the set Michael Sweet lead the audience to a prayer, which was quite an intimate moment.

If there's anything to criticize it would be the length of the set. The band played for an hour or so, and the song selection was a bit weird. Don't get me wrong, every song was more or less a hit but none of the songs were recorded after 1986! This from a band who have recently released a critically acclaimed comeback album ("Reborn"), not to mention their two other rather popular albums ("In God We Trust" and "Against The Law"), is a bit strange. I was quite certain that they'd play at least "In God We Trust" and "Always There For You", which I'm sure would've been very popular, but nope, when it was over it really was over. No encores, although the crowd was looking forward to them. Well, it was very good while it lasted, and we'll have to settle for that. Hopefully the band will return to Finland one day, and give us a real, full-blown gig.

SET LIST: Battle Hymn Of The Republic, The
Way, More Than A Man, The Rock That Makes Me Roll, Reach Out, Makes Me Wanna Sing, Oz Fox solo, Calling On You, Free, Honestly, Soldiers Under Command, To Hell With The Devil, Winter Wonderland

Report by Kimmo Toivonen
Stryper photos by Mira Suutari-Toivonen
The Rain photos by Kimmo Toivonen

(c) 2007 RockUnited.Com