What’s better than seeing Moonsorrow playing a show in their own country? Seeing Moonsorrow playing a show in their own country and then flying home and seeing in your own country all in the space of one week!
I flew out to see Moonsorrow play two shows in Finland – at Kuopio on the 13th and Turku on the 14th, before coming home to see them play in York on the 20th – and what a fine week it was! But which was better…seeing them play a Finnish show or a British one?
Klubi, Turku – February 14
After a truly magnificent show in Kuopio, it was onwards to Turku for the second date of Moonsorrow’s Finnish shows, taking place at a venue called Klubi in Turku.
Openers Oceanwake got the night off to a good start with their great blend of ambient and avant-garde doom that had a bit of a Sólstafir-ish vibe to it. A really good element of the performance was the way their frontman stood on top of a podium akin to a preacher – it was atmospheric to say the least, and it was an all-round tight set that warmed things up nicely for Moonsorrow. Although the band didn’t really interact much with the crowd, it worked well for me personally as I got to witness largely the same performance as the native Finnish speakers in the crowd.
Of course, it was always going to be Moonsorrow‘s night and they took to the stage to loud and boisterous cheers from the excited crowd and the atmosphere was simply magical as the show got going with 1065: Aika followed by Pimeä. The amount of effort the band put into the performance was breathtaking – the way they engaged with playing the music was stunning, especially from the three members at the front of the stage as they moved about, headbanged and just put their absolute all into ensuring that the crowd was also getting a good show visually as well as musically. Seeing the way they interacted with one another – such as when Janne came and played Mitja’s guitar, or when Ville and Janne played their instruments back to back – was just so fun to watch and you could really see how in-sync all five members were with one another.
Although, like when I saw Vorna, it was a little difficult to follow what was going on at times due to my lack of knowledge of the Finnish language but despite this it was still great all the same and a particularly magical moment was the first song of the encore, Huuto. Live, it just seemed to be all the more atmospheric and beautiful than on CD; it sent shivers down my spine just witnessing it. Indeed, the entire set was just magical – it was a good mix of songs right from their debut release of Suden Uni right through to their most recent effort of Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa.
After winding things up with Sankaritarina, Moonsorrow left the stage to loud cheers and enthusiastic yells – what a night it truly was! It was stunning from start to finish, and I knew that the UK show had a lot to live up to after both this show and the Kuopio one.
Fibbers, York – February 20
Following a very insightful interview with one of Moonsorrow’s guitarists Mitja Harvilahti, on February 20 (a week to the day since my first show of the three in Kuopio) it was officially time for the York show and the night got underway with local act Sellsword. As a whole it was was an okay performance but nothing more than that – their music was a blend of power and heavy metal that wasn’t the most original listen and whilst they were a visually engaging band and had a good amount of movement round the stage, it just wasn’t the strongest start to the night.
Next up was Northern Oak and they seemed to set the scene a little better. The way they seamlessly utilised violin, accordion and flute into the music was great and they were a wonderfully atmospheric band. At times, the performance felt a little rigid and it felt like they were just playing through the songs rather than putting on an actual show and their closing track felt like it was being dragged out rather than being rounded up into a satisfying close. Still, they warmed things up well for Moonsorrow in any case and the crowd was suitably sated by the time their set finished – indeed, someone was calling out for them to play another song!
However, the night properly got going when the mighty Moonsorrow took to the stage, following the entire room chanting their name as their introduction played in. It has to be said that the crowd was a lot more wild in the UK than in Finland and they seemed to get a much more feverish reaction than in Kuopio and Turku combined, perhaps due to how long it had been since their last actual tour here.
There was a few sound problems for the band at first, with the vocals sounding barely inaudible, but Moonsorrow took it in their stride and powered on regardless, still putting their absolute all into the performance, once again giving visually captivating renditions of every song they chose to play. Sadly, they didn’t have as long a set as they did in Finland and it was a shame not to hear Tähdetön this time round, as that song had a magnificent kick to it live and was certainly one of the stronger songs of their Finnish set, but sometimes you can’t have everything.
It made all the difference to hear them communicating in English this time round, as it meant I could actually understand what was going on, but what’s great about Moonsorrow is that it doesn’t matter what language you speak – their music is stunning, captivating and engaging no matter what language they speak to the crowd in.
Unfortunately, here was a bit of unpleasantness at the end of the set when a few people in the crowd decided to boo them when they didn’t come out for an encore (when in fact, the final two songs of the set were technically the encore but they just didn’t leave the stage in order to maximise the time they had to perform) but as a whole, it was yet another great performance from one of Finland’s finest metal bands.
Was it worth seeing them three times in the space of just one week? Absolutely! In the end, it has to be said that Finland came out on top – but I suppose you can’t really beat seeing a band performing in their native country. And now the wait for Nummirock in June begins…
MoonsorrowKlubi, Turku - 14th February 2015
Photographer: Sanna Kallio