Sauna Open Air Metal Festival, Tampere, Finland 5th-7th of June 2009

August 3rd, 2009
by Luxi Lahtinen

Saturday 6th of June

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Niko: Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the time machine! Have a trip of your life to where none has gone before… The above-mentioned two lines could be used for the visual appearance of Hammerfall. Looking at these guys on the stage it feels like no time has passed by, as they look like a band that has steadily stuck to the 80’s period. If I was not older (and wiser. You have to be old to be wise, right? Ha-ha!) right now than back in the day, I would have easily believed that it was me standing there as a teenager and watching Hammerfall to play on the main stage of S.O.A. In fact, Hammerfall did surprise me both visually and musically; the band was really bringing out their best to their fans at the festival. Hammerfall were one of those bands that really got people to go nuts during their set. Not only because of how they moved and acted there on the stage but also because of their good songs and nearly a perfect stage sound.

The band´s set was started off with “Blood Bound”, which was received greatly by the Hammerfall fans, from then on they played at least the following songs: “Hallowed Be My Name”, “Last Man Standing”, Heeding the Call” and “Riders of the Storm” to name a few. Luckily Hammerfall played on the main stage on Saturday when weather was a little better than on Friday. The weather was still cloudy but there was no rain at all to turn down the feeling in the audience. The surprisingly supportive crowd even demanded loudly from Hammerfall to play encore for them, which they got eventually. “Hearts on Fire” was played this time that ended Hammerfall´s slog at this year´s S.O.A. in a great way.

Thumbs up for Hammerfall! They were definitely one of the most positive acts of the day!

And oh yeah, no doubt about it. Traditional heavy/power metal is alive and doing really well here in Finland. Sauna Open Air 2009 at least clearly proved that when thinking of this festival as a whole; Stratovarius, Hammerfall, Kamelot and Nightwish in the very same metal fest. Lots of ear candy on offer for traditional/power metal fans at this fest for sure.

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Niko: It was time to gather around the 2nd stage to witness probably the heaviest band in this year’s S.O.A. festival, Prestige. I’m glad to say I saw them playing in Jalometalli 2008 already, and it must be confessed that this set of theirs was much better in my opinion than the one they played at Jalometalli.

Since Jalometalli, the reunited Prestige has been playing a hell of a lot more shows and it was easily seen the way how band took its place on the stage. The songs were rolling out like from a well-oiled machine. For those who haven´t ever heard of Prestige before, the band’s sound is an excellent mix of traditional thrash metal with hardcore elements poured into it. Prestige have never wanted to hide their roots and actually never wanted to take their music too seriously, which in my opinion is really refreshing among all these bands swearing in the name of ´die-hard-blood-skull-devil´ imagery.

The first song was “Force of My Hate”, which soon got followed by “Angels Cry”, both from their debut album ATTACK AGAINST GNOMES. I have to say that the lead singer Aku is definitely one those persons who would never get upset on the stage, no matter what would happen during their performance. This man’s a real motor mouth, always making people laugh at his clever stories, and therefore I could recommend him that he should seriously consider trying a stand-up comedy routine some day…

Prestige also played – ´always-ah-so-educational´ “Dead by Drugs” (hey, kids at home this one’s for you!) song, and brought up a bit more punk-ish side of Prestige, playing a medley “I Don’t Wanna Play with Teddy” / “Ei ihraa”/ ”Jani” (a song which was dedicated to a dead friend, the troop leader of Prestige Aku wanted to point out).

The end of the set we got to hear only one song from the PARASITES IN PARADISE album “Offender”, and the ending of the gig was somewhat predictable when they played “Veijo”, which is a title track from their very limited, same titled VEIJO EP (1989). I strongly bet the guys were happy to have a chance to play a gig in their own hometown – and believe me when I am telling you the front of the crowd was having real fun with the band, too.

Prestige was – and as a matter of speaking has always been for that matter, an entertaining band in a festival environment. Can’t wait to see them next time either!

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Niko: It was time to get prepared for the Finnish troll attack on the 2nd stage. Our beloved and loud noises making trolls, more commonly known as Finntroll, were welcomed warmly by a massive crowd who had gathered to see their ´trolls-plays-humppa´ performance. The vocalist Vreth wore a giant wooden glove on the stage while acting like a real troll and roaring songs, one after another, like a mad beast. He had painted a relatively impressive ´troll mask´ on his face, just like the other murky looking warriors of the band. The keyboardist Trollhorn was wearing the kind of mask that reminded me a bit of Scarecrow from the "Batman Begins" movie. I guess it also needs to be mentioned that Finntroll had two keyboardists with them at S.O.A., doing some magical ´troll tricks´ as a part of Fintroll´s unique and tight wall of sound, pumping up more elixirs of life and death into this extremely energetic troll group. Finntroll explained later on during their set that this way they are able to to perform certain tracks easier live, and I gotta believe using two keyboards overall gave an excellent opportunity for them to have a more varied and in-depth sound when playing their songs live.

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Finntroll took the audience really well, too. This year the 2nd stage was set up next to a ´krigsmjöd´ area what also meant that there was a huge crowd hanging around the fence of that particular liquid refreshments serving area in question. Finntroll surely had an audience of their own because of the fanatical people shouting almost literally their lungs out while the maestros themselves were churning songs out from their troll blackened sewer.

The band played a really good set, and the crowd was blessed by such troll hymns as "Slaget vid Blodsälv", "Jaktens Tid", "Kitteldags" and of course one of the best Finntroll ´humppa´ songs ever, "Trollhammaren". Without any doubts – along with the Finnish ´humor thrashers´ Prestige, Finntroll were unquestionably one of the best acts on the 2nd stage at S.O.A. this year. I have to confess that I do value Finntroll highly in my book due to all that unrelenting and overflowing energy that they are able to produce live. What a really cool band they are indeed! Thank you sincerely Finntroll – and that you one more time! You have truly earned the right to be called one of the most popular metal bands these days. 

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Luxi: As it was reported, Sauna Open Air festival gathered more people this year than any of its previous years. Especially both Saturday as well as Sunday were either nearly sold out, or sold out. Saturday because of the LA glamsters Mötley Crüe and Sunday because of Nightwish.

This was the very 1st time Mötley Crüe played somewhere else other than in Helsinki. It should be mentioned that this was also Crüe´s very 1st appearance at an outdoor festival in Finland to play at S.O.A., and it was definitely a true jackpot for the organizers of the festival to get these 4 notorious, bad boys to play at the festival. I have never seen such an amount of people at this festival during its entire existence. Now the venue was absolutely packed to the last square meter, and just because of Mötley Crüe.

Before the show all the photographers had to sign an agreement with the band´s management if they intended to take some pictures of the band. Taking photos from the band was not allowed in the front of the stage this time. Instead all the media people were brought in some sort of convoy to a podium near by the mixing desk that was exclusively built and reserved for people in wheelchairs so that they could enjoy the bands at the festival as much as the others. This podium located about 60-70 metres far away from the photo pit in the front of the main stage, and it was nothing but very weird why the media people were treated this way because there were – even without lying a second – thousands of mobile phones among the crowd, that nowadays have cameras, internet, navigators, etc. in them. Anyway, quite odd arrangements from the Crüe management for the media people if you ask me respectively…

Back to Mötley Crüe though. First off, I have to say I have seen better shows from Mötley Crüe than this. However, I am not saying they could not entertain their audience as they surely did all that based on all the reactions they managed to cause in a big mass of people. With the help of some evergreen Crüe hit cavalcade of songs like "Wild Side", "Shout at the Devil", "Saints of Los Angeles", "Live Wire", "Looks That Kill", etc., the atmosphere of ´Crüe Fest´ definitely reached some sort of climax – people shouting the band´s name loud as hell, like it was their last opportunity to avoid electrocution. But somehow the band looked like they did not necessarily enjoy fully what they were doing on the stage at that night, looking a bit lazy and all that. I do not know. Or maybe it was just me who was running so high expectations toward their show in advance? It could well be both. Part of me enjoyed a heck out of Crüe´s performace, and the other half was like ´meh´, they could have pulled out a better show than this…".

Nothing, however, changes the fact Mötley Crüe did exactly that what was expected them to do, i.e. gathered the biggest crowd of the whole history of the festival to the venue to watch their performance. I think that itself should speak loud volumes what kind of status the band is still enjoying among the fans these days. They did not quite impress the hell of me but they certainly did a good show, no doubts about that.

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