27.10.2021 NOEX: Noora Louhimo Experience @ YO-talo, Tampere

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If Finland has produced one truly relentless and ferocious artists in the last decade, it’s Noora Louhimo. Discovered for her epic rendition of the Erma Franklin/Janis Joplin hit “Piece of My Heart,” she has been the lead singer for BATTLE BEAST since Nitte Valo left in 2012. However, with the COVID-19 break in touring, Noora has been able to release the solo album of her dreams, Eternal Wheel of Time and Space,” under the name of the NOORA LOUHIMO EXPERIENCE, to show people the other sides of her musical artistry. After being hugely impressed by the album and the livestream from earlier this year, we made the trip to her hometown of Tampere on October 27th, 2021, to see the full band perform their first-ever live show at YO-talo.

The show was a little late to start, but that’s understandable considering how many people they had on stage: the main band includes two guitarists, a bass player, a keyboardist, and a drummer, plus three backing vocalists (AKA the Valkyries), and an additional brass section (who only appeared in some songs). They came on stage to a full-capacity YO-talo to start the show off with “Urban Life.” I can imagine that it may be hard to reorganize these songs and not just play them in album-order, as “Eternal Wheel of Time and Space” is so expertly crafted dynamically. However, they had a very strong setlist order despite this challenge and “Urban Life” was a very fun way to start the show.

Noora greeted the crowd after the first song and talked about how nice it was to play the band’s first live show with a real audience before going into “Yesterdays.” Their stage outfits were very hippy, with long, colorful kimonos and Noora had one of the fuzzy vests and feathered hats from her livestream (some of these can also be seen in her music video). It’s also great to see the passionate interaction between band members – there was a lot of love on stage. This good vibe continued into “Relax,” which is such a comforting feel-good song with very slick, sexy guitar parts. After this, she spoke a bit about some contests and the background for “Piece of Your Love,” which has always felt like a hard rock country song to me. The crowd was a big shy to move for a lot of the show but there was a lot of swaying and light dancing, and many hands rose to clap or wave on command.

The title track, “Eternal Wheel of Time and Space,” is a glorious and dramatic song that really shows off this woman’s ability to wail. Samuli Erkkilä‘s slide guitar at the end was another big highlight. Noora then thanked the crowd again, asking if they’d like to get on a bike and ride. Naturally, this introduced one of the most rockin’ tracks of the night: “Valkyries.” This one has one of the most brilliant bridges on the album and is a real banger live.

When Noora had wanted to have her own “Great Gig in the Sky” (PINK FLOYD), where she could use her voice more as an instrument than as a vocalist (per se), Samuli wrote “Coda,” which personally always reminded me of the legendary vocal soloing in “Great Gig in the Sky”; seeing it live was a treat and it’s cool to think that she has the freedom to solo in the moment however she likes when playing this song live.

“New You,” naturally, introduced her older brother, Pekka V. Louhimo, who had an all-new outfit for this occasion (differing from what he wore in the stream) and I absolutely loved the big psychedelic collar on the shirt he had under his jacket. They have a beautiful chemistry together as brother and sister, and Pekka has a very unique soft-yet-powerful voice that differs greatly from Noora‘s sound and makes for a very cool song, especially the slightly country DIRE STRAITS feel to the guitar. The brass section was also a nice highlight for this piece. Pekka stayed around to whip out the harmonica on “Lost in Line” – he can absolutely shred and that song is a personal favorite so this was yet another big highlight in a long list of highlights of the night.

The show then slowed right down for Noora‘s Dolly Parton-esque ballad, “If I Was Your Woman,” which was dedicated to a potential future spouse. It’s a very dramatic and emotional song and the men got to take the lead in some of the backing parts, which added a very nice contrast to the Valkyries. The show then began to wind up as Noora introduced the band to some funky instrumental music, foreshadowing “Sinner on the Floor,” which is a favorite of pretty much everyone I’ve asked, so it was a great penultimate choice. If the crowd had been a bit reserved before, this song was able to pull a little more life out of them, as it’s impossible not to get into the disco groove. There were also some solos from the brass, guitars, bass, and keys included. The show then wrapped up with the extremely popular aforementioned cover of “Piece of My Heart,” which is always a pleasure to hear as Noora simply owns the song. If she wanted to be like Janis Joplin, she sure as hell succeeded (you know… without the extreme alcohol and drug abuse, etc.).

Ultimately, this event was 100% worth the trip to Tampere and surely you will find me at the show in December in Helsinki. Between the passion, style, funk, and flare of everyone involved both on and off stage, this event was a real night to remember. Here’s hoping she doesn’t wait too long to release a new solo album! Until then… see you at the live shows.

Tracklist

  1. Urban Life
  2. All These Yesterdays
  3. Relax
  4. Piece of Your Love
  5. Eternal Wheel of Time and Space
  6. Valkyries
  7. Coda
  8. New You
  9. Last in Line
  10. If I Was Your Woman
  11. Sinner on the Floor
  12. Piece of Your Heart (Janis Joplin/Erma Franklin)