Summer '06 was the third time for "Miljoonarock", a festival held in the tiny village of Tuuri, Finland (population approx. 500). Although the village may be small, it just happens to be the location of THE shopping attraction of Finland, the "village shop" of Brothers Keskinen. Run by Vesa Keskinen, the "village shop" is a huge complex of stores with its' own caravan area and a hotel. The first time we visited the festival in 2004, it was held at the construction site of the hotel/grocery store building. This year the stage was set to the parking lot of the area, and the lobby of the hotel/grocery store served as the VIP area.
We arrived in Tuuri just before the doors of the VIP/Media entrace were opened. That was lucky for us, because quite soon there was a long queue at the door. Had we arrived ten minutes later, we would have surely missed the chance to photograph Lordi's show. Maybe the organizers had underestimated the number of VIP's. Quite a lot of people were apparently willing to pay double price for the VIP ticket. In return for the extra money they got some free food and a chance to spend time in the air-conditioned VIP area. It's surely worth of few euros if one doesn't have to use those dreaded portable toilets... some probably handed out the extra euros for the chance to get closer to some celebrities, but at least we didn't spot many famous faces there. Well, we did see Lordi's dogs!
There seemed to be some confusion regarding the schedule of the event. There were posters in the VIP area stating that Lordi would start at 19:15, yet in the orginal schedule the starting time was 19:30. In the end, they started the set at 19:45, probably because it took longer than expected for the crowd to get through the gates and security checks. This is something that the organizers have to look into, as there's been a lot of negative feedback on various messageboards about organizing of the gates.
The schedules kept changing during the evening, and although there was a timetable on the big screen between the performances, it wasn't updated at all.
The first band of the festival was Lordi. Knowing their status in Finland, they could've been the headliners just as well. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the younger members of the audience (and their parents) didn't stick around for Dio and Billy Idol, but left after the Lordi show.
Compared to Lordi's gig at Sauna Open Air a few weeks ago, the set was quite similar, only a few songs shorter. According to my notes, the songs performed were "Bringing Back The Balls To Rock", "Kids Who Wanna Play With The Dead", "Pet The Destroyer", "It Snows In Hell", "Blood Red Sandman", "Who's Your Daddy", "Devil Is A Loser", "Would You Love A Monsterman" and "Hard Rock Hallelujah".
Lordi's show seemed to be well received, but not quite as well as at Sauna. Maybe it was due to the nature of the festival. Whereas the Sauna audience was mostly there because of the music, at Miljoonarock a large percentage of the crowd was the for other reasons - curiousity, athmosphere, booze...
The show contained the usual elements - lots of pyro, the butcher's saw, costume changes. One added element was the paper slip explosion (see the photo below). I can imagine that the people in charge of cleaning of the area were looking at it with horrified expressions on their face!
Musically speaking, the monsters were in good form, although it sounded like Mr. Lordi's vocals were a bit rougher than usual. The set was a tight "best Of Lordi" collection, maybe a bit on the shorter side, but the biggest hits did get played.
After Lordi's set things got a bit confusing again, as the schedule kept on changing. After the changes of Lordi's schedule, we were half-expecting some delays, but not that DIO would start 15 minutes earlier than announced! Therefore, no close-up photos of Dio for us...
Ronnie James Dio might be over (or close to, depending on the source) of 60 years of age, but it seems like he hasn't aged a bit since the early eighties, when he was in Black Sabbath. He's still a powerhouse vocalist with amazing voice. Dio the band '06 features a great line up of RJD on vocals of course, Craig Goldy on guitars, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keys. Longtime Dio member, bassist Jimmy Bain has been replaced with Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Whitesnake), a lively character who brings in a lot of showmanship to the line up.
As we got closer to the front rows, it became obvious that there were a lot of real DIO fans in the audience. They got a nice 90-minute set with lot of classic material from early albums "Holy Diver" and "The Last In Line", drum and guitar solos and some Rainbow and Sabbath tracks as well. While I have to admit that I wasn't familiar with all of the songs, it was a good set and one can only admire the power of Dio's voice. My personal favourite songs in the set were "Rainbow In The Dark", "Don't Talk To Strangers", "Holy Diver" and the Rainbow classic "Long Live Rock'n Roll". "Rock'n Roll Children" and "Hungry For Heaven" would have been nice to hear...
We didn't leave anything to chance when it came to photographing Billy Idol. We checked the starting time from the staff, and indeed it had changed. He started his set 30 minutes earlier than scheduled, but this time we had positioned ourselves near the lobby, from where the media was escorted to the photo area. Therefore, a lot of close-up photos of Billy and his band... although for whatever reason, Mr. Idol seemed to be impossible to capture decently. Then again, Steve Stevens seems to be Mr. Photogenetic!
I've never been a big Billy Idol fan, but his set was another positive surprise. He's an energetic performer and his band features outstanding musicians, the axe hero Steve Stevens being a star in his own right. Other members of the band are Brian Tichy (drums), Derek Sheridian (keys) and Stephen McGrath (bass, vocals).
Billy Idol's set was a well balanced selection of hits, some new material from his latest album "Devil's Playground" and a couple of interesting covers. The MTV hits from the eighties such as "Eyes Without A Face", "Dancing With Myself" and "White Wedding" went down very well, and so did the "Playground" songs "Scream" and "Super Overdrive". He even played two totally new songs, "Cry" and "Touch My Love". In true rock star fashion, Idol changed his clothes a few times, and to please the ladies, he sang a few songs without a shirt, showing his trimmed body. He may have lived most of his life enjoying "sex, drugs and rock'n roll", but he still in great shape.
The inclusion of Van Halen's "Jump" in a Billy Idol set might sound odd, but it worked like charm and he really got the crowd jumping. After all, he's no stranger to covering material from his contemporaries, his "Greatest Hits" album contained a cover of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. The rousing rendition of "Jump" was hard to follow, but of course Idol had one ace in his sleeve, the classic anthem "Rebel Yell", which ended the main set.
At this point, a large number of people started to leave, but the most enthusiastic fans weren't satisfied. Idol did return and played his summer hit "Hot In The City" and a taster from Derek Sheridian's solo album, a cover of the evergreen "In The Summertime". The evening was closed with a long version of "Mony Mony", which featured a guest drummer (was it Archzie from 69 Eyes?). Brian Tichy, Derek Sheridian and Idol himself all took up guitars and stretched the song into a long jam.
All in all, the festival was a success. The weather was perfect, the bands were excellent and according to the organizers, the ticket sales were very good. About 15.000 people had bought tickets, and among them there were many families. Mijoonarock was probably the first rock concert experience to many of the youngsters, and hopefully the power of rock music converted them into rockers!
Report by Kimmo Toivonen,