TAROT – The 25th Anniversary Tour, DOM, Helsinki on April 6th
Review & live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
Tarot, these ´Finnish walking dinosaurs of Heavy Metal´, have reached their quarter century now when the band has been aging over the years with pride and glory. The band´s two landmark albums, THE SPELL OF IRON (1986) and FOLLOW ME INTO MADNESS (1988), are already considered some of the finest Metal albums that have ever been produced on Finnish soil – and since it´s been 25 long years since Tarot´s debut came out, it´s a good enough reason for a little celebration, isn´t it?
Is there any better way to celebrate the band´s 25th anniversary than getting the band´s legendary debut record THE SPELL OF IRON completely re-recorded, and arranging a tour to support both Tarot´s incredible and long career as one of the most appreciated Metal exponents coming out from Finland ever – as well as enjoying hearing a good bunch of these re-arranged versions of Tarot´s most classic tracks live, performed by our ´old, angry´n ugly (as they want to call themselves)´ Savonian Metal heroes exclusively, but only this time under a bit renewed yet so logical moniker, THE SPELL OF IRON MMXI.
Tarot´s 25th anniversary tour – containing eleven dates all in all at some of the best known rock venues around Finland, started from one of the best Metal concert places in Helsinki, named as DOM (known as Dante´s Highlight earlier). As it´s often a common headache for gig organizers, arranging any kind of extensive tours is always a pretty hard task to accomplish when it comes to fitting ideal tour dates into a week calendar. Tarot´s 1st date on their domestic 25th anniversary tour took place in Helsinki, in the middle of the week on Wednesday, so it obviously was a good enough excuse for some people to not join the party, which is understandable due to people´s commitments with their work, school and stuff. But since I personally haven´t ever witnessed in my life a Tarot show that wouldn´t have entertained - or moved me a slightest at all, I could sarcastically say: “It was only your loss, dear folks…”
The party started around 10:30pm, when it was originally scheduled to get started, the band´s first ever hit song, “Wings of Darkness” started piercing through the air as vivid and fresh like these aged men would have played it for their audience for the very first time, an awfully long 25 years ago. The crowd, roughly numbering approx. 250-300 attendees, greeted our beloved Metal heroes very enthusiastically that prepared the way for a jolly good celebration – in the name of Tarot´s old school Heavy Metal to be more precise with all of you.
“Wings of Darkness” was soon followed by “Back in the Fire”; another classic Tarot song off THE SPELL OF IRON that has very often found its way to the band´s song repertoire whenever they´ve put a setlist together and headed their way to the road. To me, this song actually represents one of those most memorable yet strongest Tarot songs, in which basically all those vital elements highlight how a Tarot song sounds like: It´s melodic, it has a catchy, easily repeated chorus part, it tends to roll smoothly from start to finish – and first and foremost, it captures the soul of Heavy Metal correctly, leaving a listener to desire for more.
With those aforementioned 2 classic Tarot songs alone, the band´s 25th anniversary tour was pretty much set up for a night to be remembered – despite the Wednesday night and obviously most of the people that had dragged their asses to this meaningful Tarot show, were supposed to go to work on the next morning – this including me, too. So no over-the-top drinking feasts were meant to happen during that night, and getting drunk by letting Tarot´s uncompromising and traditional Heavy Metal do all the talking at that night, was a more than satisfying way to enjoy the night at its fullest.
The cavalcade of songs that followed next – 15 songs altogether, hardly left much to be hoped for: “Crows Fly Black”, “Ashes to the Stars”, “Descendants of Power”, “Lady Deceiver”, “Calling Down the Rain”, “I Walk Forever”, “Hell Knows”, “Pharaoh”, “Love´s Not Made for My Kind”, “Pyre of Gods”, “Rider of the Last Day”, “Crawlspace” – and the 3 encores, “Things That Crawl at Night”, “The Spell of Iron” and “Traitor”. The main focus was naturally on the recently re-released THE SPELL OF IRON MMXI album off which 6 out of 10 songs were played - and which obviously was also the band´s original purpose to give some extra spotlight for their re-warmed classic debut record during the gig.
The whole show was basically 2 hours of pure Tarot magic – the guys delivering their goods the best they could onstage – full of vibrant energy and sheer excitement to enjoy playing live, like it was their 1st show ever. Frontman Marco Hietala has always known how to entertain his audience, and this time did not make any exception to that rule either. In between the songs he proved – once again, to be quite a storyteller. The loyal Tarot crowd got very familiar again with the true storyteller skills of Marco, laughing their assess off with cleverly told stories that vary between about how this world is gonna end – how aged, angry, ugly but sexy beasts (Marco was referring to 2nd vocalist Tommi, calling him as ´Savonian incarnation of sexuality´, sort of) they still are in 2011 – said with so many different word and phrase mutations – and how ignorant people live in big cities, having no idea about all the joys that one can find from the countryside where our beloved hicks come originally from. Now talk about a real entertainer here…
The thing with Tarot is that whenever you get this ultimate chance to see them playing live, simply don´t even hesitate to go see them because they only do gigs nowadays on rare occasions due to Marco´s main job, which is Nightwish. But most importantly, you should not miss seeing Tarot onstage at any cost either – no matter whether they are able to play often or less often near by your location. Over the past 4 decades the band has become such a charismatic and phenomenal entity itself that only a small fistful of bands have even these days. Saying Tarot are still one of the finest and most luminary Metal acts that would deserve so much more than they have gained for themselves thus far, holds so much truth in itself. At least those near by 300 people weren´t wrong that seemed to enjoy the band´s strong stage presence from the bottom of their hearts, knowing that their hard-earned money was well spent for the band they adore and love so much.
Some engines are meant to last and run like forever – and hopefully one of those metallic engines is tagged with a bold and big Tarot logo. ;o)
ENTER WINGS OF DARKNESS FROM HERE
(… and some more pictures taken from Tarot´s gig on April 6th 2011…)