We’ve all seen Marko Hietala live, with NIGHTWISH or TAROT or other projects, like SAPATTIVUOSI, but opportunities to see him in a solo project have only just appeared after the release of Mustan sydämen rovio back in March. We first caught him live at Tuska Open Air 2019, but that didn’t stop us from heading out a second time to see him play a full solo gig at Tavastia on September 27th, 2019. Check out the gallery here.
We arrived at Tavastia in good time and were surprised to see that the show hadn’t actually sold out. Fans young and old had shown up, with a few notable white heads in the audience, which was quite cool to see. The show was a couple minutes late getting started, before an electronic intro introduced the band to the stage. They didn’t wait at all before getting going and Hietala joined them and got things started with “Tähti, hiekka ja varjo.” The crowd willingly cheered, and though there were only a few fists up, there was a lot of movement as people got into the flow of the songs.
They followed with “Kuolleiden jumalten poika” before Hietala greeted the crowd to tell us a bit about “Isäni ääni” before an impressive bass groove started the song. The stage show clearly highlighted Hietala as the main event, though guitarist Tuomas Wäinölä (of RASKASTA JOULUA fame) made ample use of the dramatic effect from the wind machine. It wasn’t the sort of show that blows you away with its energy, but that wasn’t exactly what the crowd expected, knowing what the album sounds like.
We poor foreigners were a bit SOL as he also gave another background story about “Laulu sinulle.” He put down his bass for this track and it was then that we noticed he was barefoot. Hard prog really was a good description for the music, as it the atmosphere was very laid back and everyone focused on playing the music expertly.
“Vapauden kuolinmarssi” was again a personal favorite, with its strong melodies and fantastic energy – definitely one of the liveliest songs of the night. It also has that great jam session at the end, which was so fun to see live. He then introduced a cover of “Olet lehdetön puu” by the classic Finnish rock artist, HECTOR. This was followed by “Unelmoin öisin” and the rather dramatic-sounding “Minä olen tie.” Huge props to the sound tech, incidentally, as I haven’t personally heard such a loud, balanced, and clear show at Tavastia in ages now. It was awesome to feel the music coming at you full force from all around.
“Juoksen rautateitä” was followed by another cover, this time of Fredi‘s “Muukalainen,” a Finnish version of David Bowie‘s “Starman.” Hietala then introduced some of the people working behind the scenes, who popped out to wave at the crowd. He continued to chat with the audience a bit, before getting them to scream about… something I admittedly didn’t catch – sorry! “Kiviä” was truly awesome at the end and the crowd helped him sing the “hoi!” part of the chorus.
We were a bit surprised to find that they were doing an encore and Hietala talked about local band HECTOR before saying they would do a SAPATTIVUOSI (aka sung in Finnish) cover of “War Pigs” known as “Sotasiat.” This might be sacrilegious, but as someone who isn’t really a big Ozzy fan, I enjoyed the way HIETALA sang this a bit more than the original. He then brought out a stool (still chatting with the crowd the whole time) and ended the show with “Totuus vapauttaa.”
Honestly, it was really nice to go to a show and take it easy and really get into the music. As mentioned, the energy wasn’t insane, so it was very relaxed and laid back for both the band and the audience. Some people were taking it easy on the stairs but didn’t look bored at all and were still clearly engaged in the event. We heard every song from the new album as well as a few extra treats too, ultimately making the evening a worthwhile use of time.
1. Tähti, hiekka ja varjo
2. Kuolleiden jumalten poika
3. Isäni ääni
4. Laulu sinulle
5. Vapauden kuolinmarssi
6. Olet lehdetön puu (Hector cover)
7. Unelmoin öisin
8. Minä olen tie
9. Juoksen rautateitä
10. Muukalainen (Fredi cover)
12. Sotasiat (Sapattivuosi song) (encore)
13. Totuus vapauttaa (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Jana Blomqvist
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”