Finally I found a reason to pay a visit to “Helsinki´s sister city” St. Petersburg: Ensiferum played there (actually also The 69 Eyes on the very same evening but in a different club), and even more familiar faces to meet with the openers Exsecratus, (soon a STALKER Fresh Act!). Well, I had to experience that St. Petersburg is much more like a big brother, loud, chaotic and a bit messy - in comparison Helsinki still comes off as sleepy fishing village!
But still, there is so much to see that a weekend cannot be enough. Buildings that look like designed by a pastry cook, churches, parks, galleries and of course the Hermitage museum, which takes a whole day to be fully appreciated.In this photo gallery you can get a little impression of my sightseeing tour, a little compensation for the very few and very bad concert photos...
But from the very beginning... Club Arktika, very close to the Metrostation Primorskaja, is actually easy to find. Basically a youth center, concerts start much earlier than in Helsinki, around 19 h, and the club closes down at 23 h (which goes nicely with the last Metro leaving at midnight). I was curious how Metal concerts would be like in the neighbour country, and even more about the local fans. The club´s exterior expresses architectural plainness, but inside it´s much more comfortable, and the bar downstairs looks really cool: Brick walls, rustic interior, a middle-age castle / SM club crossover! But it´s way too small, and the tiny backstage area could hardly contain all the members of both Finnish bands...
Pretty small also the stage, and without photo pit!!! Even more than one hour before the show a lot of fans gathered in the hall, many wore Ensiferum shirts, some with Ensiferum war paint, even some obvious Kiss fans could be spotted... This is when I first suspected to be in trouble; taking photos from the audience might be still work nicely in a Tavastia or Nosturi club, but here...audiences indeed proved to be passionate, good for the band, bad for me...
Exsecratus had a real good start, the audience cheered enthusiastically to their Power /Death Metal music with female vocals, and also during the drum solo, yet still you could squeeze into the front rows and take some snapshots. Well, at least a few minutes, before those moshpits were formed... The band performed approximately half of their set, including the tracks “For You” and “Suicide” from their demo, and mastermind Olli Mattila proved himself as entertainer. But then... technical problems with one guitar, then also with the other one - Exsecratus had to abort their show. What a pity!
Long before the headliner was due, the “Ensiferum!” chants began in the now completely full hall, and when the band finally went on stage, it became clear that those moshpits before were just the foreplay, the warm-up. Only with a certain Kamikaze attitude you would dare to try to approach front rows, and even near sound/light mixers people expressed sudden and unexpected urge for motion... the camera team for the Finnish TV show “Rautaryhmä” hardly managed without aid from local security personnel. Moshing or dancing, shouting or waving Finnish flags was still not enough for fans, about a dozen of them climbed on stage, not for stagediving, they literally wanted to be close to their heroes. Finally security solved the problem, and Petri spent the rest of the show surrounded by personal bodyguards. On stage...
Otherwise there was no need for security activities at all. The fans from St. Petersburg are not much different to other Metal audiences, perhaps just more passionately celebrating a band until the very last chord. No need for Petri to ask so frequently “Do you want to hear some more?” The show mixing old material with examples from the new album “Victory Songs” (“One More Magic Potion”) got everybody sweating, especially the Folk Music parts. A flawless performance, without any sign that Markus was terribly weakened by a flue.
Ensiferum Setlist: Blood is The Price of Glory
Tale of Revenge
One More Magic Potion
LAI LAI HEI
Token of Time
The New Dawn
Hero in a Dream
Guardians of Fate
During the encores even members of a certain opening act entered stage to entertain the enthusiastic audience with their exhibitionist inclinations... too bad I cannot provide better photographic documentation!
Great show, great club, although light and sound systems could be improved... and please build a photo pit... therefore