Swedish/Finnish SID-metal kings, MACHINAE SUPREMACY, had done a small Finnish tour in 2017, but didn’t hit every city they wanted to. As such, 2018 meant another Winland Tour for these guys, bringing them to a few cities they had missed on the last tour and culminating in the SaariHelvetti Easter Bash in Tampere on April 1st, 2018. Since Helsinki was not on the menu this time around, we opted to head over to Turku to check out the show at Gong.
As someone who doesn’t skip MASU gigs, the lack of a Helsinki show provided an interesting opportunity to me, as it meant that I got to pick a different city to visit. We opted this time around for Turku, as I’d never been there before in my long 9 years in Finland.
We arrived approximately 10 minutes before showtime, giving me time to check out the venue. Gong is a nice little place, a bit like a smaller Tavastia, with a small riser with tables on the right side and a bar in the back. There’s a big gate separating the stage from the hall that leads to the toilets, and I considered myself lucky that I could get right up front to see the band with nothing but the gate between myself and the stage, as the place was pretty full. However, the locals clearly knew something I didn’t, as when the intro tape playing “I Wasn’t Made for the World I Left Behind” ended and the band came out to start things off with “Versus,” the sound quality was so awful that I had to abandon my spot immediately so I could hear more than just the drums.
The band was immediately looking happy to be there and was greeted with big cheers and a ton of singing along. They followed “Versus” with “All of My Angels,” and then treated the old-school fans to “Winterstorm,” one of the classic SID-heavy tracks. They only played one track off the latest release, 2016’s “Into the Night World,” which was the eponymous title song. I wondered a bit at why they chose that one, which has some nasty high notes, as opposed to what I believe to be the generally more popular “Twe27ySeven,” but perhaps it’s because Ingeborg Ekeland is not present to sing her parts. Robert Stjärnström [vocals], however, avoided the high note risk by playing around with the vocal lines, allowing for a unique live sound.
The band themselves were looking pleased to be back on stage. These guys have easy chemistry – Nicke Karvonen [drums] and Andreas Gerdin [bass] keep the beat steady with ease and flair, and Tomi Luoma and Jonas Rörling [guitar] just shred away, all smiles and energy. And of course, Stjärnström has his own presence that’s always been unique and fun to my eyes, making these guys a constant pleasure just to watch perform.
“Force Feedback,” as always, got a big response from the crowd, who threw their fists up and/or clapped along; it was also the moment the sound quality balanced out completely, and remained good for the rest of the night. “Less talk, more rock,” Stjärnström said after this. He kept the speeches to a minimum throughout the night, and they moved to 2014’s “Phantom Shadow“ with “The Villain of this Story.”
“I have a confession to make,” Stjärnström said when the track ended. “We are huge Britney Spears fans.” This could only mean one thing, and I was really excited, because their version of “Gimme More” is one of my all-time favorite heavy pop covers. I wasn’t alone, as the entire venue seemed to be jumping and bouncing with their fists up to this track. This was followed by another personal favorite, “Renegades,” which transitioned directly into “Nova Prospekt” without any break in between. I love that “Renegades” has managed to stay on the setlist, as there are so many great live tracks on “Phantom Shadow,” but “Renegades” in particular works well as a halfway point song, to give a bit of respite to the crowd. It has such a great marching beat, but you’re not necessarily going to jump up and down to it, so it’s in the perfect place on the set.
“Laser Speed Force” followed “Nova Prospekt,” and it is definitely one of their best high-energy rock-out live songs that people are more than willing to go crazy to. It’s also one of the few songs where Rörling gets a chance to sing. “Edge and Pearl” began to wind things down; that’s one of their most unique and incredible songs, and isn’t a live staple, so it was great to get to hear it again after a bit of a break. They closed out the main set with “Rise of a Digital Nation” and left the stage.
The encore opened with “Rocket Dragon” and then the classic “Republic of Gamers,” dedicated, as always, to anyone who likes video games. They closed out the set after thanking everyone for the night with their de facto closer, “Through the Looking Glass,” and then promised to come talk to the crowd after the show.
MASU is a band that people clearly travel for. It’s become pretty normal for me to see people that are always at the Helsinki shows also in other cities (usually if I go twice, I stick with Tampere, but I wanted to try something new this time). That said, we actually made a snap decision to go to the Jyväskylä show as well on the 31st, and even though the venue was nicer and the band was still on point, I was very disappointed in the crowd there, who seemed considerably less willing to move than Turku had. Sure, they responded when the band asked it of them, but any constant dancing or headbanging was limited to a handful of people scattered around the venue. The band did, however, play an extra song in the encore, “Hubnester Rising,” that they had played in Oulu but not in Turku, so it was a nice bonus to get the extra song. I see where the band wars on this – as an album closer, “Hubnester Rising” is an amazing song. The dramatic arc is outstanding and the story is devastating. However, as a gig closer, it ends things on a bit of a gloomy note. It was nice then that they still included “Through the Looking Glass” afterwards, as they had not played it in Oulu.
I hope MASU keeps up the trend of coming to Finland every year. These guys never disappoint live, and they’re one of the most connected bands to their fans that I know of, always coming out to take photos and give autographs afterwards. I also appreciated that they changed up the usual live set a bit on this occasion, leaving out some traditional favorites like “Indiscriminate Murder is Counterproductive” and including some weird but great choices like “Gimme More.” So, it seems nothing has changed (in a good way) – MASU remains one of my favorite live bands. I eagerly await the next tour.
Intro: I Wasn’t Made for the World I Left Behind
2. All of My Angels
4. Into the Night World
5. Force Feedback
6. The Villain of this Story
7. Gimme More (Britney Spears cover)
9. Nova Prospekt
10. Laser Speed Force
11. Edge and Pearl
12. Rise of a Digital Nation
13. Rocket Dragon (encore)
14. Republic of Gamers (encore)
15. Hubnester Rising [Lutakko bonus track, 31.03.2018] (encore)
16. Through the Looking Glass (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman