LEGENDS OF ROCK II
8'TH OF OCTOBER 2011
CLUB TEATRIA, OULU
REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
The Legends of Rock festival was now organized for the second time in Oulu, Finland. The festivals organizers believe strongly in the name of 80’s hard rock and metal and this year's edition of the festival included a string of interesting bands which haven’t been performing in Finland for ages...if ever. Canadian band Helix was headlining the event. It’s been 26 years since their last visit so it was finally about time to see them again here. Although Norwegian TNT and Swedish Treat are located in our neighbor countries, still, neither of them played in Finland until now. Originally it was announced that German band Bonfire was also on the bill but for some reason or another they cancelled and were now replaced by local act called Ghost Machinery. It must have a little disappointment for the organizers that only approximately 300 people breezed in for the evening. Perhaps it was such a high ticket price or an oversupply of concerts in Finland, but still I was waiting for more people to show up. Anyway, there were no cancellations and all the bands were performing as announced. It was time to check out the today’s condition of the 80’s veterans...
Swedish hard rockers Treat made a great comeback in 2005 after being on hiatus for more than a decade. Their latest opus COUP THE GRACE was released only last year and it was definitely one of the best releases in 2010 for its genre. When I reached the venue the band was already in full action. Lead singer Robert Enlund commanded the stage making crowd to sing chorus of 80’s hit song “World of Promises”. It was reflected that the whole band enjoyed being on stage although there wasn’t a huge audience there. The set list was a pure Treat hit explosion spiced with a couple of COUP DE GRACE tracks which worked extremely well too. Songs like “Too Wild”, “The War Is Over” and “Ride Me High” were some of the highlight of the evening. It’s a shame that this band made it really big in their heydays. This band has so many great songs with huge melodic hooks which do leave behind as well Sweden’s Europe as many U.S bands at that time. Sometimes justice doesn’t win…
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Beforehand this was the show I was waiting for most from this evening. That’s partly because I’ve seen all these bands performing before but not TNT with their “new” singer Tony Mills and partly because TNT is one of my favorite bands of all time. The band released recently its latest album FAREWELL TO ARMS which is an instant classic, at least in my books. It doesn’t lose an inch for any of classic Tony Harnell era material. The set opened up with MY RELIGION track “Invisible Noise” followed by “Listen to Your Heart” from classic TELL NO TALES. To be honest, the sound was really muddy in the beginning. It was Ronnie LeTekro’s guitar which was ruling everything and it was hard to hear anything else but that. Things got a bit better during “Downhill Racer” and then, for the first time, it was possible to hear the whole band properly. The attention then turned into Mill’s vocals, of course and… let’s put it this way. Mills’s and Harnell’s voices do sound surprisingly the same on the album and there’s no big difference on live situation either. For sure there was some backing tracks used especially on pre-choruses but overall Mills did a decent job and all the high parts were performed correctly without any problems when needed. The man has a stage charisma which somehow reminded me about some other British singers. Especially Doogie White came in mind for some reason, but anyway, Tony Mill’s is a good fit for TNT no matter what (other) critics do say. And on the right side on stage there is Mr. Ronni Le Tekro. LeTekro is and has always been an extremely good guitarist. His unique “hard attack” style is always recognizable and some of his of solo playing is just unbelievable. The man has been loyal for his “hippie” look like forever and he didn’t disappoint with this element either. What a great performance! There’s no more to say about one of the best guitarists existing. Drummer Diesel Dahl for sure looks a bit different to his 80’s “big hair” days but what’s most important his is playing was still solid and there’s a good groove going on there. Bassist Victor Borge did a great performance as well especially with his strong backing vocals. Personally I would have liked to hear more FAREWELL TO ARMS –tracks but because this was the very first TNT show ever in Finland and it was understandable they played a pure “Best of“-set list. Classics like: “10 00 Lovers”, “Everyone’s A Star”, “Intuition” and “Seven Seals” worked out great and so did the only new album track “Refugee” which was one of highlights for me. All in all this was a strong performance and evidence that there’s still plenty of power left on these Vikings and one British here…
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It’s been something like 25 years since Helix last visited Finland. That was during the bands “heydays” when they had the number one album LONG WAY TO HEAVEN in the Swedish charts and it seemed that nothing could stop these Canadians from conquering the whole world. Well, since then many things have changed. The band has gone through numerous lineup changes, ups and downs, but they never gave up! In fact, we now have an incarnation of Helix with four out five members from that classic line-up which visited here almost a quarter of century ago. The “re-union” album VAGABOND BONES was released in 2009 and since then the band has been more or less actively touring mostly in Europe and North America. The quintet hit the stage about 01:15 AM and opened up with “Wild in the Streets”. The song worked out great and especially vocalist Brian Vollmer and guitarist Brien Doerner were in flames on stage. The old LONG WAY TO HEAVEN track “The Kids Are Shakin’” got good reception in the audience and so did “Heavy Metal Love” and “Deep Cuts The Knife”. The guys in their 50’s did a great and energetic performance and really gave their best doing all of their best known songs as well as few VAGABOND BONES tracks and at least one song from recently released SKIN IN THE GAME (EP). Vollmer and Doerner were together the heart of the show but the whole band was playing very tightly and special mention goes to drummer Greg Hinz who was the real backbone of the show. There was nothing wrong with the show itself but according to crowd reactions, Helix should have been in a different spot from headlining the event. For sure the ridiculously late show time didn’t help, but the band played for about half the amount of people compared to Treat and TNT. But still, despite the lack of audience, this was a good rock’n roll show which all spices needed and do we really need more?
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