It’s been a surprisingly busy month and a half of farewells in Lahti scene: first the groove metallers of PROFANE OMEN went dormant – stopping, but not quitting, as they put it themselves – and now one of the most prevalent acts in Finnish Gothic metal and rock, ENTWINE, is calling it quits for good after over 20 years. Having released their last album, “Chaotic Nation,” in 2015 after a 6-year break in records, it could be easy to say that the end was a long time coming, but in any case, we’re glad that instead of going quietly, the band decided to do one last tour in Finland. As we had the chance to catch them close by, Lene decided to honor their career by attending their final show in Tampere on 27th of September, at the always charming YO-talo, with local rock act MANZANA opening for them. Check out the Helsinki gallery here.
My personal history with ENTWINE spans from early teenage years to current day as fairly consistent, something I can’t say about all of my favorite bands. From me practicing “Fatal Design”‘s tracks at a band camp to most of the albums serving as background music for all kinds of writing, and naturally soundtracking various life phases, ENTWINE‘s been there. This considered, it was safe to say that the thought of bidding them farewell, now that it was actually around the corner, was met with more or less mixed feelings. Over 20 years is a long time for any band, and the news about quitting weren’t exactly surprising in the end, but I guess all that mattered was the way they would go.
We arrived to YO-talo around halfway through the MANZANA‘s set, and sat back to watch and listen from the bar space on the other side of the venue hall. Though a familiar name in the scene, I didn’t have recollections of actually hearing MANZANA before, and they turned out to be on the more hard rock end of the Finnish Gothic metal with a female singer spectrum, reminding me a bit of LULLACRY and the likes. I almost chalked it up as not really my thing at first, but singer Piritta Lumous was such a burst of energy and her voice had a nice edge to it, so before I really noticed, I ended up enjoying the show. One of the last songs they played had a fun, sports news broadcast kind of synth melody to it; Lumous also introducing it as “jumppatuokio” [sports break], during which both guitarists took a stroll in the audience. After that, it was time again for the more traditional Finnish Goth metal, and I was immediately taken back to those early noughties I had come to YO-talo for, so they were definitely not a bad choice for an opener.
As local fave EMBER FALLS‘ latest single was playing during the stage change, I made an observation that me and my company were likely among the ten youngest people present. It was weirdly both comforting and somewhat sad – on the other hand these people had likely also listened to ENTWINE for years, but on the other it looked like younger folks hadn’t really discovered them after the last album, which is definitely a shame given its quality. The audience, likely consisting of long-time fans, served the overall atmosphere well; however, as it turned out, around a quarter past midnight the stage front was positively packed as the intro track pierced the air with a countdown and the set kicked off with a “Fatal Design” duo, “Chameleon Halo” and “Out of You.” The crowd hardly needed any urging to get their hands in the air.
With the opening of their set out the way, singer Mika Tauriainen – whose hair had sprouted quite a bit since the last club show I saw – told the crowd that he wanted to just look at us for a moment, as there were so many of us, musing that there was hopefully enough time on stage to take in the sight of us all. To our amusement, he continued by saying that he would also like some “normal water” on stage, as there’s so much fizz in what was available that he’d explode if he drank one. Ask and you shall receive – a couple songs later he declared that there was enough water on stage now, even if it was more literal than he meant.
The setlist was clearly dominated by songs from “Fatal Design,” in the end only missing three of the album’s ten tracks, but naturally not forgetting the oldest classics or the two last full-lengths either. It was interesting to see how “Fatal Design”‘s tracks formed a kind of backbone for the whole set, tying together both older and newer material and carrying the ceremonies forward. Starting there and going back-to-back with newest, midway, and oldest material, they could throw in “Twisted” to shake it up and then take a step back again, slowing down with the gorgeous acoustic rendition of “Frozen by the Sun” from “DiEversity.” With only the backing track and the rhythm provided by the audience accompanying Tauriainen until the last chorus, when the rest of the band joined him on stage again, it was one of the most memorable moments in the evening. The hit single from the same album, “Bitter Sweet,” was a smooth transition before another spin on “Fatal Design,” this time with the titular track, before one more venture into the newer material; both “Fatal Design” and “Beautifully Confined” were among the more unexpected picks in my books, but extremely welcome as such.
Even more than the near-perfect setlist, I was reduced into a stupidly grinning doofus by the sheer and utter joy in the atmosphere. In all honesty, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard the crowd clap as loud at YO-talo as they did on this occasion, and almost throughout the entire set, encouraged by even the smallest hint from the band that they’d like to see some action. From speeches to all other communication between the band and the audience, and band members themselves, the mood somehow stayed cheerful, warm, and so contagiously enthusiastic that one could’ve easily forgotten this was one of their last gigs to play, if it wasn’t for the content of the speeches from time to time. From Tauriainen asking audience members about their first memory of the band or the first song they’d heard, to him telling anecdotes behind some of the oldest songs – like how “Time of Despair” almost wasn’t finished at all and asking us what’ll come tomorrow in spite of this being the end (cue “New Dawn”) – it wasn’t entirely possible to forget the metaphorical clock ticking its countdown, but if anything, reminders of the impending end may have just served to fuel the good times.
After ending the main set to “Snow White Suicide” and what felt like a very short encore break, “Break Me” got the audience even more excited, with people dancing all over the place, including benches circling the main floor – if I’d thought the atmosphere couldn’t get any better, the last three songs proved that wrong. Before the finale, Tauriainen took a moment to applaud the Tampere audience, telling us that he thought of Tampere as “the rock of Finland,” as here, if anywhere, rock music will prevail, further adding that even though they’re taking their last bow as ENTWINE, somewhere a kid will always pick up a guitar, or drumsticks, or sing. That, and not letting live music to die, are certainly sentiments we can get behind any day.
Now, I could pick a dozen of highlights from the whole show, or make a playlist of way over 20 songs out of my ENTWINE favorites, out of which most were played at that show, but never in a million years I would’ve thought they’d end their set with “Curtained Life.” At that point it was tough to keep that infamous “something” out of my eye, all the while I was exhilarated about actually getting to hear the song live; being both the first and last time I heard it at any of their shows was, simply put, perfect. At that moment, as I was watching people dancing around me, and a few singing along with their eyes closed, it was easy to nod to myself, that yeah, this is definitely what I go to experience at gigs, and gave a mental thank-you note to myself for not missing out on this one.
I’ve seen my fair share of last shows and tours – more and more in recent years – and all of them have been memorable and most of them excellent shows, but ENTWINE managed to reach something already in the first show of their final run that not many of those other shows have been able to reach: I wouldn’t have changed a single thing. Of course, there’s always some technical hiccups and early on in the tour things are still a little rusty, but I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say I’ve rarely, if ever, been as content to let any band go. Obviously there’ll be a time I’ll miss them like all the others, but that time is not quite yet. I’m willing to admit being somewhat biased by the setlist consisting mostly of my favorite album, but I’m also confident to state that when you get to say goodbye with so much heart in it from both sides, band and audience, it’s hard to find anything more to wish for. And that was only the beginning of the end, so I warmly hope that you caught this powerhouse while you had the chance.
1. Chameleon Halo
2. Out of You
3. The Strife
4. Plastic World
5. End of Silence
6. Bleeding for the Cure
7. Still Remains
8. New Dawn
9. The Pit
11. Frozen by the Sun
12. Bitter Sweet
13. Fatal Design
14. Beautifully Confined
15. Time of Despair
16. Snow White Suicide
17. Break Me (encore)
18. Surrender (encore)
19. Curtained Life (encore)
Written by Lene L.
Photo by Miia Collander