A few months ago, I posted a somewhat infamous 4/10 review of Turisas’ latest offering, Turisas2013. I can’t say it felt good to give one of my favourite bands such a low score, but I remained hopeful about their UK tour because their live show is simply stunning and I was interested to see if the new songs translated well live. Did they deliver? Well, yes and no.
After gearing up in my costume and full red-and-black face paint, I arrived at the venue, and it was great to see a long queue of fans with a great deal of them in costume and with painted faces, and the yells of “BATTLE! METAL!” were ringing out long before the doors were even open – a stark cry from their first show of the tour at Bristol which I was also in attendance for, whose “queue” consisted of a few people milling around outside the venue.
Opening things up was instrumental band Astrohenge. They were good at first, with a unique and interesting sound, and it was awesome watching their keyboard player getting so engrossed in their music, but after a while everything sounded the same and it just felt like they were playing one long continuous song. It probably would have helped if they’d had a microphone too, so they could introduce the songs or throw out some titles to the crowd, as how am I supposed to look up the catchiest song of their set, which went “daah da-dah-daaah, dah da-da-dah da-da-dah-daah-dah”?
Main support for the night came from Welsh rockers Revoker. Not a stranger to the lads, I could probably be described as a Revoker veteran due to this being my fifteenth show of theirs, and I can honestly say that this was one of the best shows they’ve ever played. Although it was a short-but-sweet set, they hammered through it in an impressive style with a setlist that included all their live favourites such as Stay Down, Psychoville and The Great Pretender. We were even treated to two brand new songs – Generation Genocide and Hands Of Justice, the former of which singer/guitarist Jamie decided to play frontman in true style by climbing up onto one of the amps and taking his microphone from the stand to perform without being restricted by his guitar! Closing with their massive song Born To Be An Outlaw, hopefully they gained a few new fans amongst the red and black-clad crowd!
Of course, the crowd were all behind Turisas, with the chants of “BATTLE! METAL!” ringing round the venue once more before Revoker had even had time to step away from their instruments!
It has to be said that Turisas are a phenomenal live band. Having discovered them in 2006 in a live environment supporting Lordi (in which they completely blew them off the stage!), I’ve always had an affinity to their live shows, so it was quite disappointing to see them get off to a bit of a shaky start. Perhaps it was due to the sheer volume of new stuff packed into the start of their set, which unfortunately didn’t have the kick I was hoping for and lacked the live sparkle, falling quite flat, or perhaps they weren’t fully connected with the performance at first as there was something slightly off with crowd favourite To Holmgard And Beyond, but by the time the introduction to As Torches Rise rang out, things properly got going.
It was like a switch had been flicked and the song shone brighter than any of the previous tracks of their set. There was something special about the drum line in particular in this and it really sounded like newcomer Jaakko had put his own twist on it, with a lot of power and meat behind it all! In addition, keyboardist Bob even managed to get a mini circle pit going as the song came to a close, which was great to see.
One of the highlights of the night was their drinking song section before One More. After frontman Mathias announced to the crowd that they loved Manchester due to the fact it was the first time on the tour they’d been given actual local beer on their rider, he then requested the crowd to sing the band a traditional Mancunian drinking song. After a little deliberation, the room launched into the highly imaginative song Shove Your Fucking Scousers Up Your Arse to the tune of She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain, which went down a treat to say the least.
All in all, the band were just there to party, which was further evidenced when a child’s toy axe got thrown up onto the stage (literally the only weapon that had been managed to be smuggled inside as Manchester Academy is waaaaay too strict) and Bob took the opportunity to play a childish piano rendition of Battle Metal on his keyboard to roars of laughter from the crowd, all whilst waving the tiny little thing in the air.
Something that I wish to highlight about the performance was their rendition of We Ride Together, the closing track of Turisas2013. In my review, I described the track as falling flat in comparison to the epic closers of their previous three albums and feeling like there was something missing, but it worked perfectly in a live environment. With everyone clapping along and singing along at the top of their lungs, it was gripping from start to finish and just goes to show that you need to see this band to fully appreciate them.
The night ended with their infamous cover of Boney M’s Rasputin, and with Mathias instructing the crowd to disco, it was a sight to behold to see a whole room of metalheads dancing like crazy to this fun live track. As it was the final song of their final show of their European tour, you could tell the band wanted to party everything out of their system and it wound up being one of the strongest songs of the night. Utterly fantastic.
Overall, it was a good show. Whilst it may not have been the best I’ve seen them due to their not-so-strong start, it just goes to show that even if a band release a bad album, you should still give them a chance. I just wish they’d played Sahti-Waari!