AMORPHIS is no stranger to the metal scene or Musicalypse readers at this point. With two anniversaries this year (“Elegy”‘s 20th and “Eclipse”‘s 10th), and particularly after their “Under the Red Cloud“ show earlier this summer, we were happy to get another opportunity to see these guys performing yet another full album. This “Eclipse” anniversary mini-tour started at Nosturi in Helsinki on November 5th, 2016 – an appropriate setting for such an event! Check out the gallery here.
I love the music in “Eclipse” – “House of Sleep” and “The Smoke” are classics – yet I can’t say that I enjoy listening to the album very much. It was pretty obvious that it was Tomi Joutsen‘s first album with AMORPHIS and while these songs are great, they are far better live. AMORPHIS has pretty much always known how to write good songs, but when “Eclipse” was released, it was very clearly a transitional phase for them and the quality of that album is sub-par by today’s standards. That’s a great deal of what made this show so exciting and special to see.
We arrived at Nosturi well before the listed start time of 21:30 to note that the venue has undergone some changes. I presume this has something to do with the venue taking over the Alakerta restaurant on the main floor – patrons were now entering via the Alakerta entrance, as there was a stage set up in front of the regular entrance. We wondered if that was just for tonight, or if it was a permanent thing. As well, they’ve had a paint job and the upstairs bar has been furnished with refurbished storage pallets now. We hope this means that Nosturi is going to start fighting to get some more gigs these days – it would be a shame if one of the best venues in town faded to memory.
Nevertheless, the bar was now open on the main floor, with only a small “hall” for non-drinkers to pass through. This was much like the set-up for MACHINAE SUPREMACY‘s latest show, or MYGRAIN‘s farewell show, only on this occasion the upstairs was open as the show had sold out a few hours before it started. The stage was fairly simplistic – I wondered if they had done it on purpose to give it a more authentic 10-year-old feel, as they had the “Eclipse” stage banners and vocalist Tomi Joutsen didn’t have his trademark microphone this time around.
Showtime, as mentioned, was listed as 21:30, though the gig did not kick off until 21:50. The show promised the full “Eclipse” set, plus another shorter set after a brief hiatus, and I was surprised to find that they played the “Eclipse” set first. The “Under the Red Cloud” show this summer was done in the opposite order, so I had assumed this show would be done the same way. The show started, naturally, with “Two Moons” and the crowd’s overwhelming excitement was finally given an outlet. We were up front and unfortunately the mix was pretty sub-par in that location – everything (particularly the vocals) was quite muted and nothing was very crisp or clear. This did get sorted out after a few songs, but the first couple of songs suffered a bit from the muddled sound quality. This was a shame because the band was playing extremely well. “House of Sleep” was an obvious fan favorite, and evidently the crowd has not gotten sick of it, even after hearing it at nearly every show for 10 years. Who can blame them – it’s a great song, and in the context of the album, it came hand-in-hand with a nice wave of nostalgia that came and went throughout the set (it definitely hit me again during “The Smoke”).
What was cool about this show was to see how the band has progressed over the years. As mentioned, the album itself is like an unpolished gemstone – the value is there, but it’s hidden under the rough edges. This show had those rough edges polished down, turning the tired old album into something new and fresh and honestly, far better than it originally was. If you were in the right place in the venue, every song sounded much nicer, and of note, the quality of Joutsen‘s vocals was really what made this performance stand out. On the album, he is still new and finding his place. In the show, he was a guy who has been with a band for a decade and has comfortably settled in as a vocalist. It was a wonderful change.
The stage show was pretty relaxed, with very little banter, as usual, and not too much energy expended on stage, which is also pretty normal for AMORPHIS. You can’t fault their playing though, because it was top-notch. The second half of the set was reserved for some of the old favorites too, as they didn’t dip into “UtRC” at all. The deep drums in the intro before “Skyforger” were really great, and it was nice to hear “From the Heaven of My Heart” again, even if the riffs in that song do feel a bit recycled. “Enigma” had some great guitarwork from Esa Holopainen and for the first time, I finally saw the beauty in “My Kantele” that everyone has been talking about. I’m not sure how I’ve never noticed it before, but that song is lovely! It also had some of Joutsen‘s best gentle singing. Of course, “Silent Water” is a must from the old material, and they ended the night with “Silver Bride” as the encore, though we missed it for the sake of getting our coats before the sold-out crowd began to leave.
Ultimately, this was a nice night and a couple of hours that absolutely flew by. I often attend gigs and wonder what’s taking so long, but this show felt like it was over before it had even started. There was very little to complain about either, apart from the rough sound in the beginning. The lights weren’t spectacular, but they did the trick, and the band isn’t the most lively on stage, but they don’t need to be. Frankly, if you were like me and came to see a revamped version of a decent old album, you definitely got your money’s worth – I’d even go so far as to say that I’d definitely support a re-recording of “Eclipse.” Now, how about an anniversary tour for “Elegy”?
1. Two Moons
2. House of Sleep
3. Leaves Scar
4. Born from Fire
5. Under a Soil and Black Stone
6. Perkele (The God of Fire)
7. The Smoke
8. Same Flesh
9. Brother Moon
10. Empty Opening
12. Towards and Against
13. From the Heaven of My Heart
15. My Kantele
16. Silent Waters
18. Silver Bride (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Jana Blomqvist