Sauna Open Air is pretty much the kick-off for the ”Festival Season” here in Finland and the first metal festival of the summer. This year, according to the organizers, there was a total audience of 23.000, with just the first day (Thursday) sold out. There was a feeling that this year’s SOA wasn’t a big hit among the fans. You could see already that from the last two days, which seemed kinda empty. Maybe it was because of the old money issue for the fans or maybe they weren’t that much interested in seeing some bands that seem to play quite often in SOA or other festivals.
The first day started off with great weather and huge lines to get inside the festival area. The gates were supposed to be opened at 4pm(15 min. before The 69 Eyes would start to play). This looked like a bad idea from the start since it seemed impossible for most people to get in before the band started to play. Finally, a bit before 4:30pm the gates are open and a bit after that The 69 Eyes started to play, with just a few people watching them. Little by little the fans managed to get in and watch most of the gig, in which the Finns played some fan favorites like ”Back in Blood”, ”Devils”, ”Brandon Lee” and ”Lost Boys”. Because the gig started later than expected, the band had to cut a bit of their set so it wouldn’t delay the rest of the day. It was a confusing start to the day, but the band did a good job warming up the crowd.
Next up in the Park Stage, Insomnium had to cut a bit of their set too, although the band did their best to attract people next to the stage. However, most people seemed more occupied with drinking in the bar areas and listening. After came the first international name to hit the Main Stage: Steel Panther. Before this gig I had no clue whatsoever of what was the deal with these guys. I had just seen a picture of them in the SOA magazine, from which you could guess what kind of music they play. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with them, even some of the guys from The 69 Eyes and Hail! were checking them next to the photography pit. The band did a great gig, it was impossible not to laugh and enjoy their songs like ”Death To All But Metal”, ”The Shocker” and ”Party All Day (Fuck All Night)”, plus their stage parody of the typical glam/hard rock bands.
The last band on the Park Stage was the Norwegian band Audrey Horne, which was promoting their latest album ”Audrey Horne”. They didn’t get much attention from the crowd, most people by this time were anxiously waiting for Kiss to come on the Main Stage. So when it was 7:50pm (10 min. before scheduled) a huge flag with the Kiss logo drops from the stage and a video intro starts to play on the massive screen that the band had set in the stage. The excitement from the crowd grows and finally the drum stage appears with Eric Singer playing ”Modern Day Delilah”, then Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thaer are brought by a moving stage. The gig continued with a trio of classic songs: ”Cold Gin”, ”Let Me Go, Rock’N’Roll” and ”Firehouse” where Gene spat fire. During the other new song, ”Say Yeah”, most of the fans didn’t seem to be into, everybody seemed to waiting for the old ones. The exciment came back with ”Deuce”, ”Crazy Crazy Nights” and ”Calling Dr. Love”. No matter if Kiss release something new, the fans want mainly the old ones, weather is from the ”make up era” or from the ”glam era”.
The next song, ”Shock Me”, gave me mixed feelings. On one hand was great to see that the band has kept this song that Ace used to sing (which he wrote), but on the other one it feels like Kiss doing a cover of their own song. Tommy was quite good singing this one, sounding almost like Ace, he even had the same pyrotechnics that Ace had going on during this one: the fire coming out from his guitar. Eric jammed with Tommy, and there was even more pyrotechnics going on. Gene and Paul came back and they played the last new song from the set, ”I’m An Animal”, which got the same response from the fans as the other two new ones. They continued with more classic ones: ”100,000 Years”, ”I Love It Loud” (where Gene spat blood and got lifted to the top of the stage to sing) and ”Love Gun”.
Paul started to play the riff of Led Zeppelin’s ”Whole Lotta Love”, even singing that a bit, but it turned into ”Black Diamond”, with Eric singing this one. I must say he did a terrific job handling the drums and vocals. Paul announced that the next one would be about another rock city, it was more than obvious that the song would be ”Detroit Rock City”, which closed the first part of their gig. After the usual break, the guys are back on stage and they play ”Beth” with Eric on vocals and for the 80’s fans delight: ”Lick It Up”, which got the best response from all the songs that they played. Kiss even inserted into this song a bit of The Who’s ”Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Then another one from the ”Destroyer” album: ”Shout It Out Loud” and one of the favorite from the women: ”I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, in which Paul was brought by a cord to a small stage in the midle of the audience. Afterwards, with Paul back on the main stage, comes ”God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II”, where images of all the Kiss albums were shown in the screen and also posters/images from bands like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. There was still one track that everybody was waiting for, which closed their gig, their anthem: ”Rock And Roll All Nite”. This song ended the gig like a huge party, with a whole bunch of pyrotechnics, shreded paper dropping on the audience and fireworks.
Kiss knows how to put a show, however sometimes the whole pyrotechnic thing was a bit too much, in almost every song the band would finish off with some sort of explosion, after a while it gets a bit tiring. However, what was really too much sometimes was Paul trying to ”sell” the new album. Whenever they played a new song, Paul would repeat the name of the album a bunch of times and the cover of the album would appear in the big screen. It felt like some cheap marketing brainwash. But overall it was a good gig, one that the fans loved.