THE UFO CULT have made it their business to bring a touch of the unexpected to the rock scene. It came as no surprise then, that the proceedings didn’t follow the standard rock show script, when they introduced their debut album, “Mothership,” on Wednesday November 2nd, 2022, at Tiivistämö.
When arriving at the venue, the place was set up with LED-candle-lit tables. There was a small crowd present and the atmosphere was quite intimate. Before the actual live show started there was some psychedelic video art featuring pole dance by Madonna Isabella playing on the screen and a short horror movie, “Älä vastaa,” presented by the short movie festival, Night Visions. Even the warm-up act was actually not a rock band at all but a space-themed short show by a burlesque group, SHANGRILETTES.
After the pre-events, the stage was decorated with artificial plants curling around microphone stands, skeletons sitting on the bass amp, and the trademark skeleton lizard on the keyboard. All-in-all, THE UFO CULT has a very recognizable visual look that amplifies their odd-ball psychedelic vision of a rock band.
When it was time for THE UFO CULT to finally take the stage, they entered in style. The long jamming intro saw vocalist Satu Hellberg enter the stage wearing an Incan goddess -like headpiece. After the intro, it was time for the concert to really take off with “The Garden of Eden.” There was a slight moment of concern when bassist Merja Arramo seemed to break the strap pin of her bass. The rest of the gig left her playing the bass either steadying it on her knee with a foot on the monitor, or for a short while sitting on the stage floor, but in an odd way, this felt actually quite appropriate for the general feel of the concert.
The evening certainly showed off a band who have grown confident with their music, even more so already than when we first saw them at the Helsinki Psych Fest a few weeks ago. They played through their debut album and a few encores, wrapping the audience in a mesmerizing blanket of psychedelic tunes. Drummer Paula Mäkinen and bassist Merja Arramo create a strong rhythmic background to the airy guitars of Jarkko Hyötyniemi, and on top of it all is Satu Hellberg with her vocals ranging from gentle whispers to strong leads and her keyboards largely in a clean piano tone contributing a jazzy twist to it all. THE UFO CULT seem to know what they want, and that is to break some boundaries and twist some rules.
One would only hope that more people find THE UFO CULT shows, as this is quite certainly a band that is best witnessed live.
Photos by Arto Alho