23.7.2021 Cyan Kicks & Arion @ Tavastia, Helsinki

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Live shows seem like a thing of the past, but thanks to rising vaccination rates around the world, it seems that there is a light at the end of this tunnel at long last. On Friday July 23rd, 2021, one of Finland’s best young bands of the moment, ARION, celebrated the release of their third album, Vultures Die Alone,” at Tavastia in Helsinki, after its release earlier this year. They had their Ranka Kustannus labelmates CYAN KICKS, who also released an EP this year, warming up the stage, leaving us hoping that Susanna Aleksandra would make a guest appearance in ARION‘s set.

For me, this was exciting event as I have not been to a gig for over a year due to COVID. It’s refreshing for life to be going back towards normal with live music. When I arrived at Tavastia, I realized it has not quite gone back to pre-COVID times, as the stage had ropes divided into rows – sort of like a queue. There were about seven rows and each were allowed a maximum of twelve people. Overall, it was still easy to party and sing along with direct friends, but it was difficult to mosh and to connect with the entire crowd. These barriers might have dampened the energy of the show, but with cases rising, it is nice to see these compromises in effect, as it is better than having to cancel the gig entirely. 

CYAN KICKS were the first to perform, as the opening act. I was pleasantly surprised by their energy and catchy songs. They came out on stage wearing an interesting mix of business, bondage, and punk attire. They did an excellent job at engaging the crowd throughout the whole show. The lead singer, Susanna Aleksandra, is a small lady, but she did a great job at making herself look big on stage with her stage presence. Highlights of their show were “Tidal Wave” and “Wish You Well”; Susanna is an excellent frontwoman, so the energy was high through the whole set, but these two stood out as having the most positive response from the crowd. The one downside is that there was not a lot of interaction with the audience between songs. They might have been trying to play as much as they could in their 40-minute window, but it can leave out an extra element to the show that you can’t get from only listening to the album. CYAN KICKS also did not mention ARION at all during their set as one might expect, but it seems like they accomplished their job at getting the crowed pumped up and ready for the headliner. Overall, the show had great energy which let the audience sing and dance the whole time.

© Vaim Hull Photography for GRIMM Gent

Next up was the main event, ARION. Although their most recent album, Vultures Die Alone,” was released in March, they were not able to have an album release show until now due to COVID restrictions. The members entered the stage one at a time to start playing their first song, “Break my Chains.” You could tell that they were excited to finally be playing live again and the audience felt the same way. The band connected with the audience with both their music and interaction with the audience between songs. They opened up about how tough it has been through the pandemic, which everyone can relate to. They then moved into their next song, the almost-title track from their new album, “A Vultures Dies Alone,” and the band and crowd had even more energy than during the first song. Other highlights of the show were “I Love to be your Enemy” and “I Don’t Fear You,” played back-to-back during the middle of the show. During these songs, the audience was singing along and having a good time. Afterwards, Iivo Kaipainen went into an impressive guitar solo. It was just the right length to keep the crowd’s attention, and enough time for the singer, Lassi Vääränen, to change his outfit to a black sleeveless shirt saying “Let’s Party” on the back. 

© Vaim Hull Photography for GRIMM Gent

Later in the set, the audience had a big surprise when Noora Louhimo from BATTLE BEAST appeared on stage for “Bloodline.” It was great to see the thrilled expressions on the audience’s faces, as it was not advertised that she would make an appearance. It was nice to see Finnish musicians support each other to celebrate ARION’s CD release gig together. Next up was “I’m Here to Save You,” which was the last song before their encore. The energy in the crowd from “Bloodline” certainly carried over into this song. They played two songs in their encore, which were “In the Name of Love” and “At the Break of Dawn.” We had another surprise on the former, where Susanna Aleksandra from CYAN KICKS came out to sing her part of the duet. Although this was less of a surprise, as CYAN KICKS were the opener, the audience would have been surely disappointed if she had not come out. The two lead singers had great chemistry on stage for the single and then ARION closed the show with their biggest single “At the Break of Dawn,” which was high energy as well, as most of the audience stayed right until the end instead of heading out early to beat the coat check rush.

Overall, you could tell that even after not playing live for a while, ARION’s musicianship has not gotten rusty. Their singer performed well and with a wide vocal range and the instruments sounded tight and well-executed. As is normal in an album release show, they did focus on newer material, but with a few nice treats from the past in there as well. Everyone just seemed happy to be out again and listening to live music. I, for one, am looking forward to more shows like this in the future and to see ARION again at SaariHelvetti in August. 

© Vaim Hull Photography for GRIMM Gent

Report by Sarah DW
Photos by Vaim Hull Photography for GRIMM Gent

Setlist

  1. Break My Chains
  2. A Vulture Dies Alone
  3. Punish You
  4. Seven
  5. I Love to Be Your Enemy
  6. I Don’t Fear You
  7. No One Stands in My Way
  8. Unforgivable
  9. You’re My Melody
  10. Out of My Life
  11. Bloodline ft. Noora Louhimo
  12. I’m Here to Save You
  13. In the Name of Love ft. Susanna Aleksanda (encore)
  14. At the Break of Dawn