Musicalypse have been big fans of THE MILESTONES for years now, which makes it hard to believe that they aren’t anywhere in our archives. On August 10th, 2019, they played a gig at On the Rocks in Helsinki and we finally made the time to go check them out. Check out the full gallery here.
We arrived at On the Rocks around 21:40 and were quite surprised to see that NATIONAL NIGHTMARE were still playing, and continued to play right up until and a bit beyond THE MILESTONES‘ set showtime at 22:00. This wasn’t a letdown at all – though we’d never heard of them, they had a pretty good sound, much like that of THE MILESTONES; perhaps even in a derivative way, as their singer had a voice rather like Olavi Tikka. Nevertheless, we enjoyed what we heard of their set, which was upbeat and kind of groovy.
OtR was nice and busy this Saturday night, though the crowd seemed to largely lack any of the youngest generations, which is a true shame. THE MILESTONES came out at 22:20 after a quick stage changeover, starting with a single from their new album: “Lonesome Train.” Having listened to so much heavy metal this summer, it was a refreshing break to see some pure rock n’ roll. Olavi Tikka has such a unique and powerful voice, as well as a great command of the stage and the audience.
“Lay My Grave on the Mountain High” immediately brought the bass to the foreground, funky as hell with a great marching beat. The guitar sound immediately invokes the feel of classics like the MARSHALL TUCKER BAND, with a bit of THE DOOBIE- or perhaps ALLMAN BROTHERS. Tikka greeted the crowd after a couple songs before “Lonely Road.” As a frontman, he was very personable with the crowd and there was no shortage of chatting with the crowd between songs. They played “The River” and “Deep in Despair” as a sort of medley, and though the crowd of Finns was tragically but not unusually still, we thought it was hard to stand still.
The sound quality proved to be fine on this night, though not perfect; the guitar riffs were coming through crisp and sharp and neither vocals or rhythms were drowned out. Tikka gave some shout-outs to people in the crowd before another new track from “Beautiful Light,” “Drivin’ Back Home,” which also featured a lot of tambourine. Tikka was all smiles and jokes, and “The Way to the Great Unknown” was dedicated to someone whom I believe was in the audience and as they finished up, Tikka got the whole crowd to repeat the vocal chant after him a few times. He then sang, “Oh my God it’s Christmas again,” before giving another shout-out to NATIONAL NIGHTMARE, and then introduced “Madness & Delight,” followed by “True Love” and “Ghost Town.”
There was some concern that there weren’t going to be almost any songs from their (arguably best) album, “Higher Mountain, Closer Sun” from 2014, but fortunately the hard-hitting intro energy of “Walking Trouble” meant that they were saving the best for last. Tikka is no slouch on the harmonica either. The shamelessly catchy “Shalalalovers” followed, which was maybe a bit sloppier than the other songs in the harmonization, but still managed to be a lot of fun. It included a long breakdown where the band just played around with the crowd to a funky beat before leading up to a grand finish.
The show wasn’t quite over yet though, as they picked up the pace even more with a couple more songs, “Queen to Me” and “Deal with the Preacher,” with Tikka singing on his own at the end before the band slammed in one last time with a truly classic rock jam at the end. The crowd wasn’t ready to let them go quite yet though, so they cheered the band back for “Ragged Lies” and “New Spring.”
It’s really been too long since I’ve seen these guys play and we’ll definitely try our best to keep more a closer eye on them in the future. The show was a fantastic, upbeat, and fun evening of great music, offering a nice opportunity to dance, rock out, and have a good time. While the harmonized backing vocals were pretty out of tune at times, there weren’t really any complaints about anything else in their show… except maybe that they didn’t play “Sad Song Cowboy.” Nevertheless, you can’t find better rock music in this country than these veterans!
1. Lonesome Train
2. Lay My Grave on the Mountain High
3. Lonely Road
4. River / Deep in Despair
5. Drivin’ Back Home
6. The Way to the Great Unknown
7. Madness & Delight
8. True Love
9. Ghost Town
10. Should I Tell?
11. Walking Trouble
13. Queen to Me
14. Deal with the Preacher
15. Ragged Lies (encore)
16. New Spring (encore)
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Feng Deng