17.12.2019 Rome Is Not A Town & Refused @ The Circus, Helsinki


After over 20 years since their last visit to Finland, the Swedish pioneers of modern punk music REFUSED were finally coming back. Their new album “War Music” has kept them busy on the road, and the gig at The Circus was also to be their final show of the year. Having heard of what kind of energy REFUSED has brought to their shows earlier, I couldn’t risk waiting for another 23 years to have a chance to see them again. Check out our photo gallery.

The opening act for the Scandinavian Tour came from Sweden as well. I’m not sure which genre ROME IS NOT A TOWN fits in, but the punk-influenced indie rock worked really well indeed. The chemistry of the band felt unique and enabled the members to get into the music, almost like the musicians wouldn’t see anything else than their instrument and trying to tell their message with it.

From time to time the atmosphere got even psychedelic with some brilliant guitar playing by Kajsa Poidnak and Susanna Brandin. Their music would’ve benefitted from a more intimate venue or at least more people showing up before the headliner, but ROME IS NOT A TOWN managed to impress the ones that were there to witness them. The set ended in “Stupid” and indeed, missing this band would’ve made me feel stupid.

The Circus was getting more packed and the tension among the audience was growing as well. The tension, however, was very soon to be released, as REFUSED entered the stage and started the show with the first single of their latest album “Blood Red”. This started a chain reaction which was like a bomb that never stopped exploding during the whole gig. I knew the energy was going to be intense, but I wasn’t prepared for anything like that. Dennis Lyxzén kept swinging his microphone and jumping around, and I’m still not sure how he managed not to hit anyone.

During “Rather Be Dead” Dennis also made his way into the audience. While screaming “rather be alive”, I would guess the people around him most definitely felt really alive. But the night wasn’t only about that crazy energy, as REFUSED was also as political as ever. This ended up in some really interesting speeches. Dennis didn’t spare his thoughts about the capitalist system and how it’s affecting our planet. Based on the reactions, the audience seemed to agree with him.

In addition to politics, we also got to hear about the power of music. Dennis spared his very relatable background of feeling like an outsider, or almost like a freak. Not necessarily succeeding too well at school, music was his way to learn about the world – and politics. A fine example of how music unites us beyond borders and opens our minds to different views. We also witnessed one of the coolest encores ever, as REFUSED left the stage as the Hallelujah-chorus of Handel’s “Messiah” was playing. Keeping the energy up for a couple of songs more, the evening was rightfully ended with “REV001”. We live in a messed up world, but that night I was leaving The Circus with hope. Sweden, please don’t stop providing us with awesome bands.


  1. Blood Red
  2. Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
  3. Elektra
  4. I Wanna Watch the World Burn
  5. Violent Reaction
  6. Rather Be Dead
  7. Coup d’état
  8. Malfire
  9. The Shape of Punk to Come
  10. The Deadly Rhythm
  11. Death in Vännäs
  12. Economy of Death
  13. New Noise
  14. It’s Not O.K… (Encore)
  15. Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine (Encore)
  16. REV001 (Encore)

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