GALLERY: 5.11.2022 Jo Quail, & Emma Ruth Rundle @ Louhisali, Espoo


As we have been now entering the darkness of Finnish autumn, one could not ask for a more fitting setup for the music of Emma Ruth Rundle. The artist was originally going to play in Helsinki on the same day as support for ULVER, but after a change of plans from the latter, this tour still remained alive. So, in a sold-out evening, despite in a smaller venue, and following a short trip by metro from Helsinki, we found ourselves wandering inside of Espoo Culture Centre waiting for her and cellist Jo Quail to perform.

With the audience seated down in the dark Louhisali and with a short delay, Jo Quail came on stage to greet the crowd. This was, after all, her first performance in Finland and she very politely took care to explain, after the first movement of her composition “The Cartographer” (making up her entire show), that all the effects we heard were not recordings, but the product of a loop station and effect board she would be using in her show. During the 40 minutes at her disposal, the talented musician focused on her latest musical creation, as the fans listened in silence, broken only by the applause in between songs. 

The interval between the two shows was quite short, so after forming some queues towards the toilet area, everyone hurried back to their designated seat. In the end, there was no hurry though, since ERR’s guitar needed some more tuning. When the show started, Emma Ruth Rundle was equally as polite as her colleague and greeted her fans, explaining that this was the first time here for her in over 11 years, when she performed with the post-rock band, RED SPAROWES

She was also going to play a full album – in her case, “Engine of Hell” – in the same play order as on the record. Alternating accosting guitar and piano, at times she had to apologize for getting a little too emotional while playing, proving yet again how she pours all of her feelings into those songs even now, after having played them so many times. She also spent a few words introducing the songs throughout the night, and had the humor to make a couple jokes on the dark nature of the lyrics (you’ve got to love when an artist appears this genuine!). 

When the moment came for “Citadel,” as expected, Jo Quail – who collaborated on the song on the record – joined Emma on stage. This, in itself, was one of the highlights of this emotional show. After 1 hour came the encore, which was announced simply (more or less) as follows: “I am going to play an encore now, but I am not going to leave the stage and come back, I am just going to keep on playing.” That’s the spirit. So we moved briefly to the “Marked for Death” record, starting from its titular song. The ending was instead reserved to “Real Big Sky,” where the acoustic guitar got swapped for an electric. Quoting the artist herself, “now we are going to travel through the underworld, into outer space… and then to nothing. That’s the goal.” That sentiment summarizes maybe not just this song, but the entire show, in its whirlwind of emotions… after all we did go through “Hell” and ended up outside in the pitch black darkness of Tapiola, not very lively on this All Saints’ day, to disperse and vanish into the night.

After seeing both artists last April in a very different setting, where they played on the big stage of 013 in Tilburg (Jo Quail performing with a full orchestra) and the only difference in their sets being ERR’s encore (“Pump Organ Song”), we fully knew what to expect. Yet this night still felt very intimate and it was a pleasure to be able to fully focus on the music in this theatre’s quiet atmosphere, instead of finding ourselves among the big crowd of a festival.