On 31 January 2020, Sibeliustalo hosted a couple of Finland’s most popular metal acts to adorn the stage in Lahti during Waterlake Mayhem, promising a truly special night in Lahti. Not just because of all the great music but also because of where it was performed – the Sibelius Hall. This phenomenal concert hall has been recognized all around the world (e.g. The Guardian praised the venue and named it one of the ten best concert halls in the world).
Usually, Sibelius Hall is filled with classical music and people dressed in their most classy outfits. But last Friday everything was different. People let their long black hair down and were dressed in band hoodies and t-shirts while moshing and banging their fists in the air to the tunes of hard rock and melodic metal. The line up for the night was excellent, first TEMPLE BALLS and ARION conquered the stage in the Forest Hall, followed by Marko Hietala’s new solo act and SONATA ARCTICA in the main hall. Don’t forget to check out our photo gallery here.
The rising hard rock band TEMPLE BALLS from Oulu opened the night with massive energy. They played in the Forest Hall which is a huge room in the center of the Sibelius Hall. This was only the second time for TEMPLE BALLS in Lahti, the first time being with BATTLE BEAST in 2017, so people weren’t too familiar with the band but the band just got more balls from a challenge like that, and soon people were packing in front of the stage. It’s the great combination of catchy rhythm, groove, tight playing and most of all having fun on the stage, which is contagious for the audience. You just can’t help but smile and jam with the bright tunes.
All that hair in the air, fine solos, harmonies and precise singing made the set really enjoyable. People genuinely liked them and I bet they now have more fans in Lahti too. Ending the show with “Hell And Feelin’ Fine” was a tasty way of wrapping up their set.
The second act was clearly more familiar for the audience since people were singing along to whatever ARION was playing right from the start, even though this was their first time in Lahti. Nevertheless, frontman Lassi Vääränen had done his homework well because he remembered to mention famous ski jump towers and said that Lahti should be proud of all of its metalheads.
ARION just let all the well-known hits flow during their set and people were fascinated by familiar tunes like “Punish You” and “Unforgivable”. The Forest Hall was at its best when the beautiful “You’re My Melody” echoed through the huge space and people had their flashlights on, waving them in the air. With a guaranteed ARION quality, the end of the show came too soon with the almighty “At The Break Of Dawn.” Perfect!
Then it was time to move inside the monumental Main Hall where Marko Hietala played his new solo album “Pyre of the Black Heart” in its entirety. Accompanying him was a group of some the most talented musicians in Finland; Tuomas Wäinölä on the guitar, Vili Ollila in keys and Anssi Nykänen on drums. The concert hall was perfect for his act. Marko has this strange power in his voice that fills the space and allows it to sink right deep in you. It’s amazing to freeze up and just listen to the great sound in the massive hall.
Hard prog, as Marko calls the genre, is rich in nuances which becomes especially clear in a venue like Sibeliustalo. The musicality of his songs is astounding but still, there’s the same hardness and clear lines that TAROT once had. An Orient Express fueled track like “Runner of the Railways” makes you want to laugh because of its humoristic lyrics and uplifting atmosphere, but at the same time you’re unsure whether it’s okay in a fancy concert hall.
After the show, I was talking with a bunch of people and they were praising the phenomenal show but they wxished that Marko would have sung his songs in Finnish. I guess that it’s a valid point, but singing in English is understandable since he is kicking off his European tour only a couple of days after his performance in Lahti, a perfect example of the classic case of “you can’t please everyone.” It’s great that Marko Hietala made two versions of the album and I personally enjoy both of them equally.
The main act of the night was SONATA ARCTICA who brought the long-awaited winter to Lahti with their “Talviyö” tour. It’s always a pleasure for an old(ish) SONATA ARCTICA fan to see them play live since they always remember to throw in some of those golden oldies too.
The one and half an hour set consisted mostly of the songs coming from the latest studio effort “Talviyö,” but there were some surprises too. “Ismo’s Got Good Reactors” wasn’t the only instrumental piece, as guitarist Elias Viljanen served us some of his solo material with the rest of the members from SONATA ARCTICA when they played “Fire-Hearted,” a full-blooded guitar hero piece of art.
What would be a SONATA ARCTICA concert without its encores? These guys still know how to end a night in style. I bet there wasn’t a soul in the Sibelius Hall who wasn’t excited for the “Ecliptica” duo “My Land” and “FullMoon” (with, of course, the obligatory “Vodka” outro of course). It was a really great change to let one of the world’s finest concert halls host some of Finland’s finest metal acts, for once. What an unforgettable night!
Article and photos by Juho Jokimies
- Paid in Full
- Closer to an Animal
- Ismo’s Got Good Reactors
- I Have a Right
- Storm the Armada
- X Marks the Spot
- Who Failed the Most
- Fire-Hearted (Elias Viljanen song)
- My Land (Encore)
- FullMoon with Vodka Outro (Encore)