To risk an attempt at reuniting a band after such a long time takes not only courage, but also discipline and a large amount of passion for the music that you play. It is precisely this passion that floored me this weekend in Koria, a small place near the 10th biggest city in Finland, Kouvola. Juppe Sutela, guitarist of To/Die/For, told me the week before about the reunion of Mary-Ann with gleaming eyes. The band emerged from To/Die/For; between 1993 and 1999 they were still called Mary-Ann and played a kind of rock music with punk influences, instead of the goth-rock associated with To/Die/For. Since one rarely sees this passion for music, especially in this day and age where it´s no longer easy to play this kind of music to a crowd, it left me little choice than to try and witness this very first comeback.
Since the members of the band all come from Kouvola, it was effectively a homecoming show at the local Pioneeri Festivaali. You find the Pioneeripuisto, on which the festival takes place, secluded from the city. The name Pioneeripuisto (Pioneer Square) comes from the first World War, because a garrison was stationed here in order to protect the Helsinki/St. Petersburg border. The place also played a large role in winter warfare, and the Molotov cocktail was developed here in the barracks. The building still exists today, serving as blocks of flats and non-profit institutions, as well as a location for local festivals, which can be enjoyed in a family-friendly atmosphere. Despite the small size of the festival there are two stages which this year saw Mary-Ann sharing with Haloo Helsinki!, Michael Monroe, Von Hertzen Brothers and many others.
Unfortunately we were only able to catch the set of Mary-Ann, but it is definitely a festival that we will be bearing in mind for the future. At 19.25 it was finally time for the comeback. To play here, where it all began, in front of friends and family, most likely put extra pressure on the musicians and would have made them even more nervous. Their set began with the song „Reality (So Boring)“, followed by more of their own material but also many cover songs. It´s rare for a reunion after such a long time to be comprised of most of the original members, but aside from bassist Matti Pyötsiä filling in for Tonmi Lillman, who passed away in 2012, no other replacements were present. It seemed they really had fun playing together; on guitar as always stood Andy Whitewine and the mastermind Juppe Sutela, on the drums Aba Ruuskanen and on the mic Jape Perätalo, with his distinct ability to be able to make every concert a highlight with his voice. Of course this time his voice was lubricated during the concert with a Finnish liquor, Jaloviina.
When you consider that the guys hadn´t played together for 16 years, and due to Aba´s back problem were only able to practice together twice before the concert, you can only take your cap off them for how smoothly things ran. Of course there were mistakes here and there, and the songs´ EQ balances were not exactly equal sometimes, but you could say that for any band. For my part, I have seen bands practice three times a week and still can´t hack it onstage during a gig, so you can forgive these professionals for one or two hiccoughs. At the second concert on the 27th September in Rytmikatti, Kouvola, everything was smooth sailing. In any case, it was a more than successful relaunch, which created a desire for new music from this band. You can clearly see that they were having fun with what they were doing and the passion for music still burns inside them. A spectator cannot wish for more than that. It only remains to be hoped that they don´t waste this passion and this time hold onto their music, as long as it makes them happy.