10. Dec 2011 Helsinki, Nosturi, Finland
The Christmas season, isn´t it beautiful? And where could it be more beautiful than in the home country of Santa Claus? Coming closer together, or just enjoy the cool winter air on a romantic walk in the snow or hanging out in one of the many Christmas markets to get a kick by watching the many lights and enjoy some Glöggi to get in the “real” mood. Already a month before Christmas the typical peaceful music is everywhere… well, on this Nosturi-Christmas-Event there is nothing “peaceful”. The best Finnish Heavy Metal singing talents please us twice with their presence to celebrate Raskasta Joulua (Heavy Christmas) – which has nothing to do with traditional Finnish Christmas songs. Although melodies and texts are the same as we all know them from the well-known Christmas carols, there are some different bits. Electric guitars, bass and beasty drums transform the spectacle into a special Heavy Metal experience.
Interactive photo gallery at the bottom
Raskasta Joulua has been established for quite a while and goes into the seventh round this year. The release of the first album and the first concert was in 2004. Meanwhile it developed into a whole tour and more and more singers are joining in. The concert halls are getting bigger and the concerts are well attended and often sold out. On this year´s event in Nosturi, the evening was parted in two concerts. The first one was for everybody and started already in the afternoon and finished at 6 p.m. One was able to see a lot of parents with their children there. The set list for the afternoon was a little different from the one later in the evening and also the singers were different, so even if you wanted to enjoy both shows, it wasn´t boring at all. In the afternoon, Marco, Jarkko, Tuple, Anthony, JP, Ilya ensured the well being of visitors during the afternoon. In the later evening Antony Ari and Pasi replaced them. They were accompanied by a great band leaded by the project´s mastermind and guitarist Erkka Korhonen, with keyboardist Vili Ollila, bassist Erkki Silvennoinen, guitarist Mirka Wäinölä and drummer Tuomas Rantanen.
The afternoon in Nosturi wasn´t completely sold out, but well attended, so it got a little tight in front and aside the stage. The first one to enter the stage was none less than Marko Hietala, who sung “Ensimmäinen Joulu”. A smoke machine and the light composition created the right mood for this song, whilst Marco whispered the song into the microphone. A moment later he gave the microphone to Antony Parviainen (ex-Machine Man), who performed “Härkien Heinillä” – well, his particular version of it. That was followed by a duet by JP Leppäluoto (Ex-Charon, Harmaja, Northern Kings) and Ilja Jalkanen (ex-Kiuas) who sung together “Joululaulu”, which was put in the right scene by artificial snowfall in the beginning. Songs by Jarkko Ahola (Teräsbetoni, Ahola, Northern Kings) and Tuple Salmela (Tarot) were following quite similar. Of course all singers were more than one time on stage for special treats. In the middle of one set, for example, Mr. Ollia had a special appearance covered in blue light, playing a solo which brought one or two tears into the eyes of some Finns.
A little lady in front of me, who had a good view from her fathers shoulders seemed to like the performance of Mr. Ahola the most, as she seemed quite bored through the entire concert, but clapped vigorously before, during and after Mr. Ahola played. Especially here in Finland, where bands like Hevisaurus, or Sauruxet Pikku Orava are making music specifically for children, it´s nice to see that also boring Christmas carols can be interesting for the younger audience. The early musical education for children seem to work.
The first part of today´s show is done and while the parents and their underage children were heading home, the others who got a hold of tickets for both concerts spend their time during the three hour break in Nosturi´s “Alakerta bar” to get a nice “rehearsal” for the evening.
11 p.m. everybody was back for the second round of the Raskasta Joulua. Nosturi was so packed, that it was difficult to get out before the end of the show if you weren´t close to the exit. Good for those who were already that shit-faced that they had gravity problems, as there was no way to fall down in the tight crowd. Marko re-opened the concert with the same song like in the afternoon, but he passed the microphone this time to former Idols winner and Amoral singer, Ari Koivunen. The remaining songs were also divided among several performers. Jarkko Ahola, for instance did not sing the last song “Ave Maria” as he did during the evening, but left it for Marko Hietala. It´s quite amazing how different all of them interpret these songs and bring in their own style. No matter if Marko, with his distinctive metal-voice, JP Metal who did all one octave deeper or Mr. Ahola reaching heights which made one dizzy; they are all worthy of being some of the best singers in the scene. My highlight was to see finally Pasi Rantanen (ex-Thunder Stone) and Ilja Jalkanen (ex-Kiuas) back on stage. Since they are no longer in their former bands, it´s very rare to see them performing, although they are involved in several projects, as they aren´t touring outside Finland.
Like already in the afternoon, some pyrotechnics took care of the “wow-effect” -like the fire-fountain- as well as the snow during the song “Pieni rumpali” (little drummer). Also a confetti-shower over the whole audience was quite nice. People liked it and seem to really enjoy the Christmas songs, as they were singing along and made it even more special that way.
Raskasta Joulua is truly a wonderful invention and got me – even as a non-Finn. For me it is now a part of Christmas, just like the cold, the lights and the Glöggi. All who were involved did a great job and made this day into something special. When do you get otherwise the chance to see the vocal elite of Finland together on stage?
photos: Sandy Mahrer