We’d all been wondering where IN FLAMES’ 2015 tour came from. They had already toured their last album, “Siren Charms,” here last year, and oddly enough, they weren’t playing at all in Helsinki, but only in some clubs in other cities like Tampere, Turku, Seinäjoki, and a few more. Curiosity certainly got the better of us, so Bear hopped a train to Tampere and made her way to Pakkahuone on October 13th, 2015, to find out what this Scandinavian (+Finland) tour would entail! Check out the small gallery here.
I try not to miss IN FLAMES gigs. It’s usually something I regret when I do, based on what I hear afterwards, so I figured at this point I should just go. This was the first time in years that I was actually at a venue early enough to catch an opener that I wasn’t familiar with too. I think the last time that happened was back when I lived in Canada, maybe in 2008. I had a good feeling, like whatever happened, it’d at least be interesting.
There was a steady trickle of bodies into the venue right from when the doors opened. The show was announced to be sold out about a day or so before the gig itself, so the doors had “SOLD OUT” plastered all over them to warn off the stragglers. The opening band was a 3-piece of Swedish guys doing what their Facebook page calls “noise hard rock.” I’d call that pretty accurate. The music itself wasn’t terrible, but the vocalist was more or less just shouting at the mic with no real melody or anything. If you’re into that kind of punk/thrash music, you might dig it, but it was certainly not for me. They played a short set of about 30 minutes before they had to change the stage over for IN FLAMES.
The stage switch-over went pretty smoothly, and with no curtains, so we had to sit and wonder what the big lightboards would be used for. They were hardly more than 5 minutes late when the lights dimmed and “Jester’s Door” began to play. They went straight into three songs that I honestly didn’t recognize, and I began to feel like maybe this tour was the one people had been waiting for, for such a long time…
By the time the fourth song, “Siren Charms,” played, I wasn’t completely convinced. I was sure that “Siren Charms” hadn’t been played live before, but my belief that they were sticking to the old tracks for this tour began to waver. However, Anders Fridén (vocals) took a break to confirm it – he bid good evening to their Finnish friends and said that it’s been a while but they’ve seen the bricks of Pakkahuone before. Someone in the crowd yelled that the show was sold out, but Anders couldn’t hear him and told him he sounded like a German, unlike the Finnish voice, which is a “drunk vocal thing, but friendly.” He got a chuckle out of the crowd with that. He then went on to explain that there were songs they haven’t played in a long time, and this tour would be bringing them back. “It’s not easy,” he explained, “There are so many riffs!” He promised they’d try to get them in order though, and went straight into “Square Nothing,” a song that hasn’t been heard live since 2009.
The mic had been a little off-balance for the first few songs but was corrected by this point and Anders could be heard much more clearly. We also could see what sort of things the light panels were being used for – streaks of light, live drum-cam/band-cam, and pulsing images of the Jesterhead. It was a nice little reminder that even though you’re in a club, these guys are still a big deal. With that in mind though, the gig itself had a completely different feel than what I’ve grown used to from IN FLAMES. When you see a band enough times in a stadium, it’s rare enough for them go back to a club, and this was perhaps the first time I’ve seen such a thing. The vibe was completely different. For one, not that I was close enough to tell, but I don’t think there was much moshing. It was mostly fists in the air and rocking out. Then again, maybe I was just far enough away that I couldn’t see it (or was too busy staring at the stage to notice). On the other hand, it’s rare to see a band encouraging the fans to crowdsurf too (after accusing us of being friendly but still). However, Anders asked if there were any rules against it, and when no one said anything, a steady stream of delighted metalheads went up during some old songs from “Whoracle” – I believe it was “Jotun.” I’m not going to deny that I was really glad to see one girl brave enough to go up with all the guys. It only lasted for one song, but it was a nice touch. I wonder if this was what it was like seeing them back in the day, when they weren’t so big. It was definitely a blast to the past for me, that’s for sure.
Ultimately though, the gig had a far more intimate feeling that you’ll ever get at a place like Jäähalli. Pakkahuone is a bit of a long venue, so I imagine it was a bit hard to see from the back, but even at full capacity, the crowd wasn’t disastrously crammed together. If you wanted to see the stage, it wasn’t too big an effort. It also makes for a nice trade-off because Pakkis’ bar is at the back. If you want to drink, getting up to the front time and time again is going to be an effort, so only the really dedicated drunks were up there (re: not many). This meant that not a lot of obnoxious people were interfering with the good times up near the stage. It worked out quite nicely.
What else? There was a lot of singing along. The crowd was really stoked to hear old tracks like “Food for the Gods” and “Pinball Map.” Even more interestingly, there was a completely different cadence to Anders’ growl in the old songs. Sadly, after over an hour, Anders admitted that they couldn’t stay because there were Finnish beers to drink, and they closed out the night with “Take this Life.” Luckily for the crowd, it was only a tease. They sure made the fans work for it, because they were off stage at least a minute before coming back for an encore. They gave us five more, starting with “Cloud Connected” (and the crowdsurfers came back to express their delight) and finishing with “My Sweet Shadow.” Unfortunately, I had to leave before the last to get my train home, which is a shame because it’s one of my favorites of theirs. Fortunately for me, it’s not on the list of lost tracks, and I’m sure I’ll hear it again.
I have to admit that I’m more of a mid-era IN FLAMES fan, so this gig didn’t thrill me the way it did a lot of people. I was more into “Clayman” and the couple albums that came after, with a hint of “Colony” every now and then. Regardless though, it was nice to see a completely different set from what I’m used to, and it’s cool to see a gig where you have no hopes or preconceptions of what is to come. It’s simply strange that despite being a tour of classics, it didn’t appeared to be labeled as so; a shame, considering fans of the band’s earlier material would have definitely come out if they had known what was on the set. Those old songs may be played less, but the band has certainly not forgotten them. It was a great treat for the long-time fans, one that has been heavily requested and was long overdue. If you’ve been a little disappointed in their albums of late, I hope you jumped on the opportunity to see this tour!
1. Jester’s Door (intro)
2. Superhero of the Computer Rage
3. Enter Tragedy
4. Darker Times
5. Siren Charms
6. Black & White
7. Square Nothing
10. Like You Better Dead
11. Bullet Ride
13. Food for the Gods
14. Ordinary Story
15. Crawl Through Knives
16. Satellites and Astronauts
17. The Hive
18. Take this Life
19. Cloud Connected (encore)
20. Where the Dead Ships Dwell (encore)
21. Deliver Us (encore)
22. Paralyzed (encore)
23. My Sweet Shadow (encore)
Photos & text by Bear Wiseman
Interview with Vola — “At this point, we just felt like writing something heavy again, more streamlined.”