PEOPLE IN PLASTIC ROCK THE NIGHT...
For the sixth time, a rock festival called Miljoonarock took place in the parking area of Tuuri's shopping paradise (or hell, choose your own). Our team has been there twice before, and have always enjoyed ourselves. The festival is well-organized, and us media people are treated really well too. Our only regret was that we weren't able to stay for the both nights. On Saturday the main attraction was Scorpions, who we have seen in the very first Miljoonarock and more recently in last year's Sauna Open Air, so we choose Friday as "our day". Friday's line-up included Viilto, Mustat Enkelit, Europe, Danny Show and Yö, out of which we missed the first band. The other four we did catch...
Mustat Enkelit ("Black Angels" if you're interested) have a history of being a Popeda tribute band if I'm not mistaken, they've even taken their name from a Popeda album. What's more, their drummer Kari Holm played in Popeda for over a decade, and their vocalist Jussi Aaltonen has temporarily replaced Popeda's vocalist Pate Mustajärvi on several gigs, when Pate had health issues. For the last years, Mustat Enkelit has played original material, although most of their latest album was composed by former Popeda member Markku Petander... I guess it comes as no surprise that they sound a little like Popeda? And now that I've mentioned that band's name about dozen times, all non-Finnish people are asking "who?". Well, Popeda are hard-rocking, hard working veterans of the Finnish Rock scene, who have been around since the late seventies. Coincidentally, they played at Miljoonarock on Saturday.
Back to the Angels... their set was solid Finn-rock, with songs mostly from their second album "Voimakenttä" (2008). I guess their best recieved song was "Nyt Aika On", an anthemic track dedicated to the veterans of the second world war, with all royalties directed to the support of the ones still alive. They took good advantage of the videoscreens by showing vintage war film footage during the song.
The band has a good frontman in Jussi Aaltonen. He has a strong voice and he takes charge of the stage quite well. Another striking figure in the band is the guitarist Jari Nieminen, who looks like Nightwish-guitarist Emppu's long lost big brother, according to our photographer... Did I mention the belly dancers yet? No? Well, there were two belly dancers in oriental costumes on stage for one song. Unusual and unexpected.
When the "black angels" had flown away, the size of the audience started to grow, as Europe, the international stars of the day were due to start. The dark clouds above us got even darker, and as soon as Joey Tempest and co took the stage, it started to rain. Not heavily, but annoyingly enough.
It didn't take long to realize that Joey Tempest was a man on a mission - he was going to entertain us despite the weather, and possibly win over a few new fans. I'm sure he did just that, as his performance was really good. His voice was in great shape, and he seemed to be full of energy, swirling the mike stand and making sure us photographers got a lot of good shots. The other members of the band were rather stiff compared to the frontman, but played well of course. I was surprised to notice that keyboard player Mic Michaeli and drummer Ian Haughland took care of the backing vocals, while John Norum's mic was virtually unused during the set. I might be wrong but I don't think he sang at all.
The set opened with the title track of the band's new album "Last Look At Eden", which didn't get that big a response. It's always a risk to play a new song as the first track, especially when the album isn't even out yet. It was only during the third song "Superstitious" that the audience started to warm up.
Joey Tempest dedicated "Scream Of Anger" to the recently departed Marcel Jacob, with whom he actually co-wrote the song. A nice gesture. "Sign Of The Times", an album track from "Out Of This World" got a surprisingly good reception, considering that it wasn't a single/video track. Still, it's an excellent tune so why not!
The single from the last album "Secret Society" is one of my favourite tracks from the post-comeback albums, as is the title track of "Start From The Dark", and they were both played. I still think that the band should've released "SFTD" as their first comeback single instead of the forgettable track they did release...
The tracks from "The Final Countdown" album were the ones that almost everyone knew, and naturally they were much appreciated. "Carrie" was the first one of them, with Tempest strumming it on his acoustic guitar while Michaeli added some keyboard textures. John Norum threw in a fine solo to it. "Rock The Night" closed the main set, while "Cherokee" and the hard rock evergreen "The Final Countdown" were saved as encores.
Halfway through the set the nice summer rain turned into a downpour, yet the athmosphere only got better and people were more and more into it. The weather did have some effect on the performers, as Mr. Tempest slipped on stage but didn't hurt himself. Slippery When Wet...
Last Look At Eden
Love Is Not The Enemy
Scream Of Anger
Sign Of The Times
Always The Pretenders
Seven Doors Hotel
Let The Good Times Rock
Start From The Dark
Rock The Night
The Final Countdown
The most puzzling artist in the line-up was DANNY. He's a Finnish singer who started in the 60ies with his grand-scale "Danny Shows". This gig was the premiere of his latest show called "The Rock Academy", featuring tributes to the likes of Elvis, Chuck Berry and even Michael Jackson. I wasn't sure how this kind of a glittery show would go down on a rock festival, but thanks to the higher average age of the audience, it was a success. The younger generation took a few steps back and the more mature people rushed to the frontrows in their plastic raincoats, singing along to Danny's translated cover versions of 60'ies and 70'ies international hits like "Summer In The City" and some other covers.
To be honest, Danny's performance wasn't really convincing, as he seemed to forget some of the lyrics (or sang inaudibly for some other reason?). He's hardly an electrifying performer these days. The show seemed to go on at a pedestrian pace, each song introduced by the teacher-like Danny (hence the "Academy" I guess). During the song there were some theatrical elements performed by a martial arts/show dance group called the Gladiators, which added a little action to the stage.
The best part of the show were the solo spots for the "D'Voices", the two backing vocalists Katja Lukin and Varpu Virta. Both girls were good singers are quite a bit more energetic than their employer. Vappu performed a pretty decent version of Queen's "Show Must Go On". Before the song Danny rambled about the next number being a tribute to the King Of Pop, and obviously most people were expecting a Michael Jackson song. Instead we got a Queen song. There's logic there somewhere.
At midnight, it was time for more rain as you can see from the photos, but it was also time for YÖ (that's "Night" in Finnish). Unlike most "eighties bands", they really don't have to rely on their old hits as they've released some of their biggest singles during this decade. After the lean years of the nineties, they've re-established themselves as one of the biggest bands in Finland. Since their last year's gig at DBTL which was really impressive I've been listening to a lot of their material, especially their newer albums. They are actually a textbook example of a Finnish AOR band, if you really think about it - if their music isn't adult oriented rock, I don't know what is.
The band's Miljoonarock set was another great and highly professional one with catchy and melodic rock songs. Two new songs were aired, the uptempo "Kiitos Ja Kunnia" and the first single of the new album, the title track "Loisto". I liked the first one but the lame and "schlageric" "Loisto" failed to impress. It did sound better live than on the radio, where it's been played a lot recently.
The rest of the set consisted of favourites from the three decades, with highlights for me being "Tie Sydämeeni" (the live version is superior to the studio one), "Rakkautta Vain" and the two songs sung by bassist Jukka "Jay" Lewis. He's a fine vocalist in his own right, whose hard rock solo album "Beat The Elite" I recently reviewed. I did wonder why the keyboard layers of "Deadline" were stripped off the song, since the band did have two keyboard players on stage.
Vocalist Olli Lindholm introduced the last song of the set as "a rare song we haven't played often... only on every gig. This is the 3456th time, so I guess I know the lyrics by now" and the band played the first ever Yö hit "Likaiset Legendat". As encores, the aforementioned "Loisto" got its' airing and inevitably the band's monster hit "Rakkaus On Lumivalkoinen" was saved as the last song. We listened to it from a bit further away, and the great light show and the sea of plastic see-through raincoats made it a memorable experience.
Vie Mut Minne Vaan
Kiitos ja Kunnia
Hän Tanssi Kanssa Enkeleiden
Rakkaus On Lumivalkoinen