17 October 2014, Alte Seilerei, Mannheim, Germany (Photos by Stefanie Oepen on Flickr)
For the third year in a row, Poets of the Fall were heading out to tour Germany in 2014, playing smaller venues this time and bringing along their new album. Jealous Gods, a lot more Pop and easy going than its predecessors, was supposed to deliver a soundtrack to move the soul as well as the butt, and that’s exactly what happened. Visibly enjoying their time on stage and with a well-balanced setlist, the Finns managed to get their fans at Alte Seilerei to dance, sing along and listen apprehensively. They played everything from their current single “Daze” to the huge hit “Carnival of Rust” and therefore didn’t leave much to be desired when the show ended. The Swiss support act, The Weyers brought lots of fun and energy as well, making the fans happy even before the Poets hit the stage.
With bands that mostly play concerts on their own, any support act has a hard time, especially if they get announced short notice and there is no visible connection between them and the band people want to see. Thus, The Weyers had a difficult start, made more difficult by the fact that several youTube videos could not really represent them well as a live band. At the fourth concert of the tour however, they had long since managed to convince the die-hard fans in the first rows and were quite relaxed when they entered the Mannheim stage. The band, consisting of two brothers on guitar and drums, are a lot of fun live, rock any venue with their powerful songs and soon manage to take over any audience. This evening was no exception and soon they were cheered on and a few people could even be seen singing along. It was clear that the audience enjoyed the show just as much as the band. I only wished they had left their fog machine at home, but otherwise there was nothing in their 30 minute set that could be criticized. Their music was varied and well suited to tune us into what was about to come. My personal favorites were “The Heart of all Things” and “Julia”. This is how a support band should be and I sure hope this was not the last time I have seen them.
During the break, the fans in the first rows were preparing for the opener “Daze”, putting on Venetian masks, just like those the band wears in the song’s video. Soon the lights went down and the intro music reminiscent of a Sci-Fi movie started. With the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, from the … of outer space tot he molten core of the earth, please welcome the dazzling jealous Gods, the … architects of destruction: Poets oft he Fall“, the band walked on stage, greeted by loud cheers. Even before singer Marko – dressed like Dread Pirate Roberts – asked for, everyone was clapping and the fans started singing along with the first line. „I love what you’ve done to your faces!“ Marko commented and said that playing in Mannheim was a bit like coming home. They continued to rock with “Diamonds for Tears” and those who had not been cheering yet, did it then.
The band was relaxed and in a great mood, joked with each other and made connections with the audience in many ways. Often there were duels to watch between the guitar players Olli and Jaska and bassist Jani and keyboarder Captain as well as drummer Jari showed their skills too. Marko, always on the move, was leaning out towards the audience repeatedly, stepped on the barrier and gave some fans special attention by singing directly to them. During the line “it’s supposed to take you places and leave markings on your skin“ in “Love will come to you“ he gently traced the tattoos on one fan’s arm and later was shaking hands with others.
“King of Fools” was one of many highlights of the night. For years it had only made an occasional appearance in the acoustic set. Now as a constant setlist part, it was received enthusiastically. The same goes for the former encore “Shallow”, a fan favorite for many years and an otherwise rarely played song from the band’s first album. The current songs got their rightful place in the setlist too, from the instrumental “Rogue” to the energetic and danceable “Choice Millionaire” and the lovely “Brighter than the Sun”. Of course, “Illusion & Dream”, including the crowd-sing along, had to be there too and “Cradled in Love” gave us the chance to watch Marko climbing a pillar in front of the stage. When he was on the way down, the tour manager tried to give him a helping hand, but he only handed her the microphone and climbed back on stage on his own. Personally, I enjoyed the ballad “Nothing stays the same” the most where Marko proved that he cannot only sing falsetto but is also able to hot rather low notes. In accordance with the quiet tone of the song, he sat down at the edge of the stage for it in the beginning and later left to let the other band members have the spotlight during the long instrumental part.
Much too soon the main set ended, and as soon as the Poets had left the stage we called them back out. At the beginning of the encores was the traditional acoustic set that sadly only consisted of one song. During previous concerts, only Olli and Marko had been on stage for this, but that night Jaska and Jani joined them. Hence there were not enough chairs for everyone and Marko amused the crowd by trying to snatch one away from Jaska or Olli. Upon special request of some fans, they didn’t play “Late Goodbye” this time, but instead treated us to a beautiful version of “Given and denied”. It was a welcome change to the usual set.
Afterwards “Dreaming wide awake” had us rocking again before things calmed down once more with “Jealous Gods”, the title track of their new album, that left people in awe. The concert ended with he never boring “Lift”, a last chance for band and audience to go wild, and finally “Carnival of Rust”. Olli, Jani, Jaska and Jari gave everything and even Captain rocked out. For the ballad in the end everyone sang along soulfully for one last time, until we were sent home with “Don’t walk away when my heart is yearning” and an Science Fiction music outro. After the band had left stage, I was looking into many happy faces, still a bit dazed by this intoxicating concert that seemed much too short. What is left are great memories and looking forward to the next one.
Author: Stefanie Oepen