10.12.2022 Korpiklaani @ Finlandia-klubi, Lahti


While the year is winding down, Finland’s dark days become a force to be reckoned with. Fortunately, the inebriated shamans of KORPIKLAANI are always around, ready to warm up a crowd with their rowdy folk music. They played a hometown show at Lahti’s Finlandia-klubi on December 10th, 2022, bringing their touring season to a close for this year, with the rest of their shows continuing in 2023.

Finlandia-klubi is an odd venue, as the building is divided in two, resulting in some unfortunate wastes of space. However, most of the floor and half of the area in front of the stage was designated for the bar part of the room, leaving a lot of space around the venue for people to hang out, if they don’t want to be right in front of the stage. There was no warm-up act for the night, so we were expecting a fairly long show.

Doors opened at 20:00 and the crowd trickled in slowly and steadily as the 21:00 showtime approached. A mere few minutes past 21:00, the sound of the fiddle and mouth organ signified that it was time for the show to start, as a jaunty reel introduced the band to the stage, getting swiftly interrupted by the drums kicking in. It’s always nice to see Olli Vänskä performing again… it leaves us wondering if his position in the band will ever be made official, or if he’s their indefinite touring violinist, and Tuomas Rounakari will just be recording on albums.

Jonne Järvela sounded right about the same as ever, maintaining his usual balance between singing and roughly shouting, though his aesthetic has been more confusing than usual recently (thankfully he dropped the baffling black lipstick from the summer). While his hats and coats surely look really cool, the voodoo Victorian look he’s sporty lately doesn’t really match the band’s pagan aesthetic. The local crowd were a bit still for the first half of the show, but waved their hands and cheered willingly anytime they were prompted. However, even a bouncy track like “Journey Man” was not getting as much dancing as you’d hope for.

It seemed like the drums, accordions, and violin were doing most of the heavy lifting, with Järvelä – let’s be totally honest here – so absolutely shitfaced that he was completely out of tune and/or forgot half of the lyrics to the music. His red cheeks and big smile suggested he was having a good time, but the performance had passed sloppy and gone into the messy zone by the end… certainly not the most professional behavior, but I suppose there’s some forgiveness since Lahti is technically a hometown show for them. Additionally, the flamenco-style guitar moments were some of the most fun bits of the music for me personally, but they do seem weird mixed in with folk metal.

Of note, around the 1-hour-mark of the show, a new face appeared on stage with a mic, but as far as we knew, this special guest was a completely random person… he swayed around on stage and played with his mic stand, though it seemed as though the mic wasn’t turned on, as we couldn’t hear anything he may or may not have done (and he seemed drunk and/or nervous to boot). In fact, we wondered if the sound guys were outright muting the mics at times, as Järvelä‘s mic went silent a few times and we wondered if it was intentional from the sound booth, since the mics seemed to cut out pretty specifically when Järvelä was at his messiest. That said, it’s not their job to censor the band, so if they were doing that, it was a bit unprofessional, as it leaves the crowd wondering if someone’s messing with the sound or if there’s a genuine technical issue.

There was one song that did sound like a Finnish folk metal cover of “Got the Time” by ANTHRAX (stylized as “Ennen” in Finnish), with the songs being otherwise largely indistinguishable from one another, at least until they played “Viinamainen mies.” This was followed by a pretty good drum solo – new drummer Samuli Mikkonen was working double hard this night, standing out as one of the band’s biggest showmen – clearly a good choice to replace his predecessor!

On the whole, this was nothing if not an interesting evening. Samuli, Olli, and accordionist Sami Perttula were all working very hard and putting on a good show, while the older guys were mainly minimizing damage from Järvelä. Ultimately, if you were drinking and looking for a good party, this was probably a perfectly good time, but if you were hoping for a strong display of talent from one of Finland’s classic folk/pagan metal acts, you may have been surprised by how badly the alcohol consumption affected their set. Here’s hoping they clean their act up a little bit for next year, so the rest of their tour doesn’t disappoint. Then again, chances are you want to go to a KORPIKLAANI show to party, and a party you will surely get!

Written by Bear Wiseman