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Kotkan Meripäivät 2011: Michael Monroe, Twisted Sister, Hardcore Superstar, Pelle Miljoona Oy

Stadt / City Kotka 
Land / Country FIN 
Meripäivä Areena 
Datum / Date29.07.2011 
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Just two weeks ago at a concert of The Damned, we felt bored and wished to see Michael Monroe on stage again, as soon as possible. The solution: Let`s go to Kotka! 130 kilometres east of Helsinki, the 4-day festival "Kotkan Meripäivät" ("Kotka Sea Days") takes place in a huge marquee, where Michael Monroe, Hardcore Superstar, Twisted Sister and two other acts played on the second day. Actually I had already resigned myself to stay away from summer festivals this year, due to weak line-ups. And then, all of a sudden, Kotka festival organisers come up with a programme which makes the heart of every Hair Metal lover beat faster. "Secretly", you could assume, because most Finns smiled at me when I announced my trip to "Kotkan Meripäivät": "It`s just a folk festival for mostly elderly people!" So it seems those "Meripäivä Areena"
gigs should rejuvenate such image; yet occasionally “promotion” lacks efficiency in Finland (see also STALKERs Tuska report): Only two weeks before the event, some inconspicuous stickers on the trams of Helsinki advertise this festival highlight. And nothing else…

However, shortly after the "Doors Open" at 4 p.m., the huge black marquee is filled with glam kids and mostly older fans of Twisted Sister. The first band, Finnish Metallers Kotiteollisuus do not capture our attention, but at least the name of the next act Pelle Miljoona Oy sounded familiar, and also in connection with Hanoi Rocks.

Actually the first bandmember who appears on stage was Sami Yaffa, who plays/played the bass in both bands mentioned. He`s such a busy bee! But it gets even better as another guy from Hanoi Rocks enters the stage: No one less than their former guitar hero Andy McCoy! It`s the first time that I see the legendary Andy McCoy live on stage. Nowadays the string virtuoso is rather notorious for drug and alcohol problems, roaming the bars of Helsinki. Yet you have to give Mister McCoy credit for: his stage presence and his charisma, without any doubt! Or why else all eyes in the "Meripäivä Areena" are on Andy McCoy only?!? Also during the performance of their biggest hits like "Tahdon Rakastella Sinua", hardly anyone follows what the eponymous frontman Pelle Miljoona and the other musicians are doing. The audience is spellbound by the way Andy McCoy plays his guitar - and it goes wild everytime when he mumbles something unintelligible into the microphone. These scenes are somehow reminiscent of a strange natural spectacle. But they are entertaining anyway...

Much more than entertaining are Hardcore Superstar. For me personally, they are THE Live discovery of the year 2011. Ok, there are still five full months left, nevertheless it`s hard to top the energetic stage show of this quartet from Gothenburg. With Van Halen`s "Dance The Night Away" as an intro, the Swedes start to rock balls to the wall with "Sadistic Girls" and turn the crowd into a wild bunch within seconds only: It`s always the same - and it`s always absolutely brilliant! That`s the way how they captured my Rock`n`Roll heart by storm recently, and hopefully many, many more shows like this will follow. Also today`s setlist is dominated by their current and so far strongest longplayer "Split Your Lip", like the already mentioned opener "Sadistic Girls", "Guestlist", the eponymous title track "Split Your Lip", "Bully", "Here Comes That Sick Bitch", "Last Call For Alcohol", "Moonshine"... But also older songs like the excellent "Liberation" are played. For sure we would have loved to listen to more smash hits like "Beg For It" and "Into Debauchery" but unfortunately today`s stage time seems limited ...

Entering the stage after Hardcore Superstar is definitely tough. Twisted Sister, legends of 80s Hard Rock from the USA rather spur my scepticism. Usually, cult bands don`t come without those hydraulic stages, pyro effects, confetti machines and so on and so on. When spotting the neon pink microphone stand of singer Dee Snider, we hope he won`t put on too much make-up of the same colour… AC/DC`s "It`s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock`n`Roll)" is played as intro, and then everything happens quickly: Dee Snider - sparse make-up and therefore identifiable as a man - appears on stage, in a long black coat, greets the audience with "Good evening, welcome to our show!" and kicks it off with "What You Don`t Know (Sure Can Hurt You)". All the bells and whistles we expected beforehand are missing. No wonder as Mister Snider needs the whole space of the stage for himself: He sweeps across the stage, bangs his head, sprawls at the front of the stage every now and then... Is this man already 56!?! What we witness is the vitality of a 15-years-old boy! Soon the black coat sails into a corner before songs like "Stay Hungry", "You Can`t Stop Rock`n`Roll", "We`re Not Gonna Take It", "Shoot `Em Down" and "I Wanna Rock" are performed. Yes, we are speechless, not to say: We are totally blown away! Twisted Sister obviously don`t rest on the laurels of their cult status but try to live up to it with every single show - and they succeed. Even the speeches and the interaction with the audience are very entertaining: Before the band performs one of their ballads, Dee Snider asks the audience to take out their mobile phones instead of their lighters, to use the light of the display. So mobile phones are the new lighters, but Twisted Sister remain Twisted Sister. And if the one and only Twisted Sister are coming to your town, don`t hesitate to buy tickets, even though they might be expensive. It`s an investment you won`t regret...

Frankly speaking, the running order surprised me: I had expected former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe and his band would play before the guests from Sweden and USA, but tonight the Finns make an exception and forget their false modesty by letting their own national hero and finalize today`s "Kotkan Meripäivät" program. After the usual intro (strobe lights, wild drumming turns into an instrumental track from "Kill Bill" soundtrack) before the opener "Trick Of The Wrist", there is another surprise: Dregen, Backyard Babies guitarist and also the new guitar player in Michael Monroe`s band as the successor for Ginger, is absent due to other commitments. And no one less than Nasty Suicide, former Hanoi Rocks guitar player, is replacing him tonight! So you could almost announce today`s festival programme as "Hanoi Rocks all over", even better the usual Hanoi Rocks classics in the setlist - "Motorvatin`", "Back To The Mystery City" and "Malibu Beach Nightmare" - are fitting. The whole thing is only topped by "Taxi Driver" as the encore. Apart from that, the band offers the usual wild stage show their fans know and love. And just for that show, you can risk a trip to Kotka…

Conclusion: A bit more promotion and the rejuvenation of the frumpy `Kotkan Meripäivät` image will succeed, `cause with such line-up the organisers don`t need to fear competition - quite the contrary! Three of the best live acts you can get these days and many surprises – and if the organisers had put Caroline (who played the following day on a smaller stage) instead of Kotiteollisuus on stage, the "Glam Rock happening" would have been more than perfect. Just "a folk festival where mostly elderly people walk around" – not a bit!

+ photos: Stefanie Singh

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