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Manilla Road / Devastracktor / Speedtrap

Stadt / City Helsinki 
Land / Country FIN 
Web www.manillaroad.net
Datum / Date01.06.2012 
Bildergalerie / Picture gallery ManillaRoad_12 
Photos: Klaudia Weber 

A legendary gig of a legendary band from Wichita, Kansas, USA, whose shows in Europe can be counted on one hand, including the one on this evening... therefore it was difficult to guess how far their popularity in the Finnish capital would reach (more about Manilla Road in the STALKER interview ) After „Doors Open“ it didn´t look good, only 2 dozen people at Nosturi – and a part of the crowd in front of the club planned to attend the club show at Nosturi´s little sister Alakerta club, which hosted a show that evening too...

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
The first band Speedtrap from Lappeenranta, FIN, had to face a sad view when they started, only one row of enthusiastic fans, after that an empty hall, only behind the barrier to the alcohol area another dozen (adult) people. However, Jori Sara-aho – vocals, Markus Hietamies – bass, Ville Valavuo – guitars and Miika Keränen – drums seem to have a good reputation here, because things turned around within a short time. Right after finishing my job in the photo pit, I faced a 3-4 times bigger crowd, and practically everybody was in front of the stage to cheer the band. Their music reeks of motor oil, groove dominates, but there are also Speed Metal influences (hence the band name). And although the guitarist tried to channel Zakk Wylde, the show seemed a bit static; yet quite convincing, including ear candy like „Out for your Blood“.

„Old School“ and 80s cult was definitely this night´s motto – I have hardly ever seen so many long haired dudes in band-sticker-button-adorned jeans jackets, bullet belts worn over more-or-less nice and colourful spandex trousers at a show (or band logos that are almost impossible to decipher on a show poster). And all those items worn by people who got to know the 80s only by their parent´s/grand parent´s stories.... the majority of Manilla Road fans at the show were much younger than I expected.

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
The second band Devastracktor from Turku even increased this Old-School fashion with lots of studs and leather, and singer Jaakko Riihimäki looked a lot like Messiah Marcolin. Musically they were set on Thrash, and despite Jaakko and his colleagues Aki Järvinen, Petri Salmio (git), Kalle Salminen – drums and Jussi Saarinen – bass performed a violent show, the audience remained reserved. Mainly behind the barrier of the alcohol area, to be more precise. And although more and more people showed up, there was hardly any crowd or cheer for this band, even though the singer started a little strip tease show. Were people trying to save their strength for the main act? No idea, in my opinion this band wasn´t that bad...

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
Even during the break people were still coming in, so that the hall and the bar area were filling up, a certain tension could be felt, die hard fans fought for the best spots in the front, some chanted the band name – then finally Manilla Road entered the stage. The predominantly under-aged fans in the front row freaked out just hearing the intro – a view that singer Bryan „Hellroadie“ Patrick enjoyed with a huge smile on his face, before he lead into the show with the battle cry „Up The Hammers“. It´s fascinating how much his voice sounds like Mark´s...
I really enjoyed the fact that the set list contained many Open The Gates hits, evident right from the start by the title track and „Weavers Of The Web“. So many releases and great songs - guitarrist and mastermind Mark „The Shark“ Shelton (and his crew, Basser Josh Castillo and Andreas Neuderth, drums) had quite a pool to select from... their Best-Of-The-Best setlist covered the band history with classics like „Road Of Kings“, „The Riddle Master“, „Hour Of The Dragon“, „Divine Victim“ and also „Into the Maelstrom“ and „Brethren of the Hammer“ from the latest release „Playground Of The Damned“.

This slightly more mature and very likeable guys from Kansas showed much younger dudes „how it´s done“, having a lot of fun and charisma on stage – and how to keep an audience in a good mood, without non-stop action or sing-alongs or „c´mon raise your haaaaands“ all the time – it´s the quality of the music that does the trick with enthusiasm... there was an efficient use of nice balance of gimmicks e.g. Mark playing a solo Hendrix-style on his back, and the people were invited to sing the chorus of „Dig Me No Grave“ (from The Courts Of Chaos Album) – which they did with confidence.

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
You could see how much the guys enjoyed the show, and how far they are like family – as they kept teasing each other now and then – but Mark also addressed the fans several times, thanking them: „We are here because you guys wanted to see us“.
Some songs got me to cry some tears of joy, quite literally: „Necropolis“ and one of my faves „Mystification“, which was even sung by Mark. Would have been great to hear „Dreams of Eschaton“ or the „Crystal Logic“ title track too – instead, Manilla Road surprised with their version of a medley, where the last word in a song title is the first in the next one – hence Die Of The Hammer - Hammer of The Witches - Witches Brew – great!

Surely Manilla Road could not just leave without encores – but after „Taken By Storm“ and „Heavy Metal To The World“ the gig was over. Well, what should I say – a proof, now live on stage, that it is quality that survives years and decades, that inspires people and creates another and another generation of fans – and there were some that had travelled from Rumania, Italy and Germany and even followed the band further to the other two shows after this one (Sweden, UK). Quite understandable, as I´d also recommend to consider a holiday in Greece, combined with visiting a festival, as Manilla Road will visit Europe once again only for the Up The Hammers Festival in Athens, October 14. Then we most likely have to wait a long long time again...

Klaudia Weber

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