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Poets of the Fall was the first band to play on the Apollo stage in Turku as the nightclub launched its new live music event. Frontline Finnish bands are going to be performing in the club every month, whereas until now Apollo stage has hosted mainly cover bands for the party people. This club event is a welcome change to the program plan, as Turku clearly lacks good venues and gigs compared to almost any other larger Finnish city. Not that I’d call Apollo a good venue as such, the stage has some major issues – like a huge pillar in the middle of the stage front, blocking the view, and the sound quality isn’t always the best possible. Don’t even get me started on the standard stage lighting from the point of view of a photographer…
In any case, I was looking forward to hearing the Poets live, especially since I wasn’t a hundred percent convinced by their latest album. I’ve only seen them at Ruisrock festival before, around the time of Carnival of Rust, and I clearly remember being blown away by their set then. I was very curious to hear how the setlist of the night would be compiled. It was nothing but excellent. A really good combination of new and old material, and of the new songs they had picked the ones that really worked on stage. From the album Temple of Thought we heard songs like The Lie Eternal, Kamikaze Love, Cradled in Love and Temple of Thought. Of the older material such songs as Carnival of Rust, Locking Up the Sun, War, Dreaming Wide Awake and Late Goodbye were played.
The first half of the gig was a bit muted, in my opinion. First of all, I noticed immediately that I had chosen a poor spot to follow the gig. I could get photos, but the sounds were stuffy and especially the singing came out muddled. I’m not blaming the band for this, it was more a question of Apollo’s acoustics and my own location. Shame about that. But to add to the feeling, the band’s energy levels seemed low, and there were even a few minor fumbles in singer Marko’s performance. Perhaps it was because the band had just had a studio break for a month or perhaps the moderate sized crowd in Apollo wasn’t exactly fuelling the flames of rock that evening, but in any case, it took a good while before the band started to warm up. Towards the end of the setlist we got to see more lively performances from everybody on stage. Then it began to feel more like the gig I had expected to see. The excellent guitar solos of Olli and Jaska were spot on and the encores the band played without ever leaving the stage had the sound of a band that would rule a considerably bigger stage as well. I would’ve gladly listened to them an hour more, because they really got rocking at the end.
Throughout the gig I very much enjoyed watching Marko perform. He’s very much the director of a freak circus when he comes on stage wearing his smeared eye make-up plus a top hat and a feather boa (which, we were told, were brand new), and with his physical demeanor he keeps up the image perfectly well. At one point he commented that he had counted the calories he burns during a gig and the result equals a 10 km run. I don’t doubt it for a moment.
For a Thursday evening club gig this was a good show. The set had high voltage rock numbers and beautiful ballad moments, and the new material picked for the set worked just fine. I will definitely want to see this band again, soon.
Johanna Ahonen; transl. S.Mahrer
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