Day 2 Saturday 25 July
POISONBLACK was one of the last additions to QStock this year and a bonus for me as I had already planned to see them at Kuopio RockCock the next week. I wasn’t complaining about the double dose of a band I’ve loved since their debut release Escapextacy in 2003.
POISONBLACK wasn’t short of fans even with the very early 1400 start. Just before they walked on stage, I heard a loud cheer—a preshow ritual maybe? The band slowly emerged to cheers and when singer/guitarist/songwriter Ville Laihiala hit the stage for ‘Nothing Else Remains’, the crowd grew much louder.
While I snapped away in the piranha pit ‘Bear The Cross’ and ‘Left Behind’ completed the three song photo session.
As the band played ‘A Dead Heavy Day’, the weather was changing—the sky began to dim and the wind picked up.
Ville introduced the next song in Finnish and all I understood was ‘Buried Alive’. At the encouragement of guitarist Janne Markus, the crowd clapped along while Ville sang the introduction. It had a really catchy chorus that stayed with me for a few days after the show and I’m looking forward to hearing the studio version because I’ve since found out it’s a track from their next CD due out in 2010.
Unfortunately for me, being a native of Finland all of Ville’s banter was in Finnish and he kept raising his Fosters in the air, possibly saluting the crowd in thanks.
It was great to see a keyboardist on stage and who got a solo during ‘Hatelove’—something rare for metal. A live keyboardist was something PAIN lacked yesterday, but then I’m biased because I live with one.
As the familiar bass line of ‘Love Infernal’ started Ville introduced the band members, Antti Remes on bass, Marco Sneck on keys, Tarmo Kanerva on drums and finished with what I can only guess was JP Leppäluoto as he walked on stage to start singing. I was still at the side of the pit and didn’t have a full view of the stage so was almost jumping with joy and squealing like a girl. My insides were exploding with excitement for being lucky enough to see JP perform POISONBLACK songs live. Of course all my camera gear was packed away—again—leaving my hands free to make notes as I needed and clap along with the music so I pull out my gear frantically to get a few shots.
During ‘The State’ JP was craving (lyrical pun) so much he was stepping all over the leads and managed to unplug Ville to the amusement of the rest of the band.
After the two songs, JP hugged the members of POISONBLACK and left the stage to much applause and Ville continued with ‘Soul In Flames’.
POISONBLACK ended on a high with ‘Rush’. The crowd was clapping for more; wanted more, but non POISONBLACK music was quickly turned up and our hopes were crushed. I got over it quickly because I was going to see them in a week anyway and if I’m lucky with JP again.
I had about 4 hours to kill between bands so headed out of the festival area and returned again at 8pm. As soon as I reached the sanctity of the VIP tent the rain dropped. Determined THE RASMUS fans stood their ground in the first few rows.
The pop chick in me had a blast watching THE RASMUS who played a set including ‘In The Shadow’ and ‘Guilty’. I few times I was tempted to jump up and down with the youngsters, but felt awkward alone.
They did a great version of ‘Ghost Busters’. It brought a big smile to my face while I sang along remembering my teenage years and was surprised that age was no barrier to knowing and enjoying the song.
HEAVEN AND HELL
There was a lot of fuss leading up to HEAVEN AND HELL taking to the stage including security telling all the members of the piranha pit, “The band members are going to come out from behind that grey wall on your right, but you can’t take any photos until they are on stage.” Yeah, right, thanks. Errr was that really necessary? If I hadn’t been told where they were coming out of, I would’ve missed it. Of course, this instruction meant every other photographer had their camera ready to take pictures of them emerging from that grey wall with the flash off.
I looked over the stage for signs of special effects and photographic opportunities and only noticed Ronnie James Dio’s microphone stand had been lowered as low as it could go. I laughed thinking it was an in joke because of his lack of height, but when he emerged I realised it was the perfect height for him to grab the microphone and start ‘The Mob Rules’. The stories aren’t exaggerated Ronnie James Dio really is the metal Elvin king.
After ‘Children Of The Sea’ the piranha pit was cleared—we only got two songs.
It was during ‘Bible Black’ that I was reminded of how deep Dio’s voice actually is. I mean, it’s not the first time I’ve seen him live, but I just keep imagining him with a higher voice.
Of course what’s a legendary band performance without a drum solo. Vinnie Appice let it rip during ‘Time Machine’.
‘Fear’ and ‘Falling Off The Edge Of The World’ were next. With every song Dio gave the most elaborate introductions; however, he spoke so quickly I could barely catch the words—heaven and hell only knows how much the Finns understood.
I’ve never been a Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell fan (so shoot me!) and it was during ‘Follow The Tears’ I realised how slow and low the music sounded to me, like stoner rock…is Black Sabbath the root of stoner rock as well as metal? Pass me those mushrooms.
Oh hell, I’m obsessed with Dio’s stature—he’s got such big hands. Yes, it seems my attention spam was diminishing.
Dio introduced Tony Iommi before his guitar solo introduction for ‘Die Young’. The man is just über cool and I soaked up being so close to him and what was probably the highlight of the night for me—strange as it’s always the singers who gain my attention for most of the show.
The slightly faster tempo of ‘Die Young’ was enough to wake me from my trance and get into ‘Heaven and Hell’ with the rest of the crowd, although I didn’t feel the need to moan along with the introduction like most of them before Dio led them to moan in the place they should have. My sense of time was completely shot and when I checked my watch I was shocked that 45 minutes had past since the last time I looked.
A visual feast was when the smoke canisters shot up during ‘Neon Knights’ and Dio stood between two giving the crowd his double metal horns (anti-evil eye) sign. The lights, the smoke and the glint in his eyes, and his bell sleeves made him look more like an Elvin warlock.
The crowd didn’t miss a beat to start shouting “We want more!” when Dio thanked everyone, introduced the band again and said “goodnight”.
The band re-emerged for the encore and Dio announced, “I won’t tell you what it’s called. Tony will start it. He can surprise you and surprise us”. I’m a bit confused because according to my notes written while he was speaking, Dio said those words and the band played ‘Neon Knights’ before they walked off the stage for the first time…oh well, guess I’ll have to take the diehard fans’ words for it.
QStock is a great little festival if you want to see metal bands and not have to compete with tens of thousands of metalheads for a view of the stage; however there’s probably not enough to keep you at the festival the whole time unless you want to drink and/or watch non metal bands. There’s enough to do around Oulu between bands—walk around the town, soak up the sun and if you’re cold blooded, go for a swim at one of the many beaches within walking distance of the festival area. If fact there’s a beach within the festival area if you can stand the DJ doof doof.
The cancellations and changes at this small festival was a lot to process for this still jetlagged head and I ended up wasting a lot of time waiting. I should have checked out PROFANE OMEN and STAM1NA, but the names just weren’t registering while I stared at the running order.
I find Finns a strange race—mostly, they don’t warm to ‘visitors’. At least that’s what I felt of the Oulu people. A few times someone in the VIP area (usually a girl trying to make fun of me) would ask me “Are you keeping a diary?” firstly in Finnish, then when I said I couldn’t understand them, in English. I would have thought the blazing media pass around my neck and SLR with a whopping great lens on it would have been a give away. When I explained I was covering the festival it ended the conversation, which made QStock a lonely festival. Next time I go, I’ll bring someone to play with.
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