What’s hotter than a Swedish firefighter? How about a Swedish firefighter that sings in an awesome metal band! KAMELOT returned once again to Helsinki, and we wanted to keep up the tradition of seeing their shows, with the last time being when the Silverthorn Over Europe Tour brought them by in 2013. Now, following the release of their very well-received new album, “Haven,” we did an interview with Oliver Palotai get the full scoop on how their live shows are doing now that they’ve got some more experience with the new line-up. The show was at The Circus on October 3rd, 2015, and you can read the interview here. Check out the gallery here.
With doors at 19:30, KOBRA AND THE LOTUS at 20:00, and GUS G at 20:45, KAMELOT’s set didn’t start until 22:00, though we were lucky that they started right on time. There was no intro track to introduce them, and they kicked things right into overdrive with “Veil of Elysium,” one of the best new tracks from “Haven“! The crowd got into it too, chanting along with the tune of the song in a way that reminds me of IRON MAIDEN playing “Fear of the Dark” live. It was great!
The stage was set up with three platforms in the front again, much to my delight. I’ve always loved KAMELOT for using those platforms in their shows – they’re cool for people up front because they have an extra little design on them for making the stage a bit more interesting, but they also give us short people and those standing in the back a better opportunity to see the band members on stage. The drums were on the right side and Oliver Palotai’s swiveling keyboards were on the left, leaving the exact right amount of space up front for the mobile players.
There was a new face on stage as well – Swedish vocalist Linnea Vikström. She was standing on a platform between Palotai and Casey Grillo’s drum set. This Swedish beauty was doing backing vocals and the female parts on a few songs. I was immediately quite disappointed to find that her mic was turned way down, so I wasn’t really able to hear her over anything else.
Tommy Karevik, the aforementioned Swedish firefighter/new vocalist, once again took complete command of the stage. He was a little more preppy and a little less Goth this time with his black tie, but nevertheless was in complete command of the stage. He greeted the crowd after “When the Lights are Down” and thanked everyone for coming out, stating that, “Saturday means there’s no excuse not to go fucking crazy!” and that they would break the Finnish ice if we were ready to party! Naturally, the obvious choice to follow that up was “The Great Pandemonium.” I’m glad they’re still playing it incidentally – I wasn’t a big fan of “Poetry for the Poisoned” in the long run, but that doesn’t stop that track from being incredible.
“Center of the Universe” was a nice addition to the set that I hadn’t heard since their last local show with Roy Khan in 2010. It was the first opportunity to really get an idea of Vikström’s voice. I won’t say that she can touch the beauty of Elise Ryd, or the epic harshness of Alissa White-Gluz, but she did a good job of the songs in her own way. The problem remained, however, that when she was brought up to secondary-main-vocalist level, her mic was still way too quiet and I couldn’t really get a good idea of what her voice sounded like. This continued in “Veritas” and “Sacrimony” later on, unfortunately. On the other hand, I like the way KAMELOT shows have always had good interaction between the guest vocalists and the singer, acting out their parts through interaction on stage. It’s a nice touch.
Karevik mentioned that his last time in Finland with KAMELOT was during the Silverthorn Over Europe Tour in 2013, and he recognized a lot of faces in the crowd (I find that unlikely). During that show, “Torn” had been the opening track, and on this night it was right in the middle, and Karevik offered personal heartfelt thanks to everyone who had come to their shows. He also mentioned that he had lost his grandfather before the Haven Tour started, and he hadn’t realized what an influence he had been until he was gone. With that in mind, they dedicated “Here’s to the Fall” to his memory. It looks like, during this tour, that is the one song that isn’t a set guarantee, because at other shows the dedication has been to “Song for Jolee.” On a personal level, I was glad to hear the former, as a nice song off the new album, rather than an okay song off an album I had never gotten especially excited about.
Of course, you can’t have a KAMELOTshow without “March of Mephisto,” and it was moved out of its usual encore slot to the middle of the set to follow “Here’s to the Fall” this time, and it continues to be a fantastic live track and show highlight. I don’t think anyone will ever get sick of hearing that song live! Afterwards, Karevik said that the Helsinki crowd was particularly loud, and gave the crowd a 1-2-3 count to get everyone to scream. He even tried to do it in Finnish, with the crowd shouting out the numbers to help him out. We got a good laugh when Karevik cracked up a bit during “kaksi” (two). I also have to admit that I’m glad that they kept something off “Ghost Opera” on their set as well: “Rule the World.”
What else was fun about this show? It was the first time we got to hear a drum solo from Casey Grillo! He had his moment in the spotlight, and what spotlights they were! Whoever was running the lights was doing their utmost to compliment the band all night long – props! The solo was pretty good by drum solo standards, though the end was more about speed than technical skill. To each their own!
We knew the night was drawing to a close when Palotai played a beautiful intro to “Forever,” and Thomas Youngblood (guitars) followed suit with his own intro to the song. The crowd chanted along again, really proving themselves to be into the music and helping set a memorable atmosphere to the show. The song is a classic, and this version was excellent (extra props to the keys – they were sounding unbelievable), with the extension at the end for Karevik to introduce everyone: the beast on bass, Sean Tibbetts; Casey Grillo at the drum kit; the maestro, Oliver Palotai; and Mr. KAMELOT himself, Thomas Youngblood. The latter also took the mic to ask for the crowd for a large-as-fuck scream for the man on the mic, Tommy Karevik! He did a sing-a-long to the tune of the song at the end, with just enough showing off, bringing the show to an incredible close.
Of course, the crowd wouldn’t let them off that easily and called them back. Tibbetts came out in a goofy pair of goggles (which sadly he didn’t keep on while playing), and they started their encore with “Revolution.” I’m not sure how I feel about this as a live track or an encore track. It’s pretty explosive, that’s for sure, but it also not the most dynamic and loses a bit of the clarity it had on the album, getting a bit noisy. I’m also not convinced that it’s the best track to introduce an encore. “Insomnia” might’ve worked a bit better, perhaps? However, they totally made it up to me by including “Manus Dei” and “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife),” which is one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs (and probably one of my all-time favorite songs in general).
Ultimately, I would call this show a hands-down success. They played a good number of songs from the new album, though it was such a good album that it’s hard to not be disappointed not to hear the whole thing. I’d have loved to hear “Fallen Star,” for example. I have to say, I am a bit sad that they’ve dropped “The Haunting (Somewhere in Time),” because I think it’s one of their strongest live tracks. Since they always have a different female vocalist with them, it means that the song is always a new experience live. I am also not especially happy with “Continuum” as an outro track, simply because… why would you play that when you have “Haven”? It’s the outro from the newest album and it’s absolutely incredible. Perhaps this wasn’t the best setlist I’ve seen of theirs, but the show was, without a doubt, fantastic, and I’ll definitely be back next time they’re in town!
1. Veil of Elysium
2. When the Lights are Down
3. The Great Pandemonium
4. Center of the Universe
7. Here’s to the Fall
8. March of Mephisto
9. Rule the World
11. Drum solo
13. Liar Liar (Wasteland Monarchy)
15. Revolution (encore)
16. Manus Dei (encore)
17. Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife) (encore)
Outro – Continuum
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Lene L.
Interview with Scar of the Sun — “I was angry, I was really angry, and that’s why my vocals came out like that.”