REVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
The Kotka Maritime Days were held again this year on the last weekend of July. The festival, which has been organized since 1962, has become one of Finland’s largest summer events. In general, the event has gathered more than 200,000 visitors in four days, and this year is no exception. As always, the festival program included artists from an extensive range. On Saturday, the audience witnessed artists like Villag People and Joe Cocker, but Friday was sacrificed for rock bands. Friday’s line up included the legendary U.S band Twisted Sister, Hardcore Superstar, Michael Monroe, and the Finnish punk classic, Pelle Miljoona Oy.
PELLE MILJOONA OY
There aren’t too many people outside of Finland who have ever heard about Pelle Miljoona or any of his music but names like Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa should be familiar to rock fans everywhere. In brief, Pelle Miljoona Oy was a band where both of those gentlemen played before Hanoi Rocks was formed in the early 80’s. The classic Pelle Miljoona Oy line-up was now temporarily put together to do a tour for selected dates to celebrate their classic album “Moottoritie On Kuuma.” It was great to see how well the old Hanoi Rocks bandmates worked together on stage. Actually, they haven’t played together since the classic Hanoi Rocks broke up in 1985 excluding Demolition 23 for an early 90’s show in Club Tavastia when McCoy joined Michael Monroe, Yaffa and Nasty Suicide on stage and together they did a string of Hanoi classics. I’m not usually too familiar with Finnish language music, but this band does have several great songs under their belt. Classics like “Juokse Villi Lapsi,” “Moottoritie On Kuuma,” and “Tahdon Rakastella Sinua” worked extremely well, and the whole band sounded terrific. Pelle is a good, personal front-man and it’s always interesting to see “Real” McCoy to perform. This time Andy did a good, decent job and rhythm section, Yaffa and Tumppi Varonen, took care of the rest. Altogether this was a good show from a classic band.
This year has been a great success for Michael Monroe. The album SENSORY OVERDRIVE has received a great response both from the critics and the fans, and the man has now been busier than in years. There are some slight band line changes since the last show Michael Monroe show, which I witnessed last spring. Guitarist Ginger has concentrated more on his main band, The Wildhearts, and has been replaced by Swedish Dregen (Backyard Babies). Unfortunately,y Dregen was unable to perform in Meripaivat due to scheduling conflicts and he was now temporarily replaced by the one and only Nasty Suicide (ex- Hanoi Rocks). The show opened up with a string of new album tracks followed by old Hanoi’s “Motorvatin” and Demolition 23’s “Hammersmith Palais”. It was great to witness 3/5 original Hanoi Rocks members on stage and there certainly was some magic in there especially when band played older material. Sam Yaffa and Nasty seemed to have fun on stage together and Monroe was once again hyper-energetic himself. The setlist was the same as what the band has done since the new album came out.
All in all, this was a good but a bit routine gig from Monroe and the boys. They could have made it more unique and asked McCoy to join them on stage for a song or two when there was a good opportunity to do that. We’ll see…
There’s no doubt that Hardcore Superstar is one of the best hard rock bands around at the moment. The Swedish quartet was originally formed in late 90’s and so far they have released eight albums including the breakthrough release HARDCORE SUPERSTAR (2005) and the newest SPLIT YOUR LIP which came out in 2010. The band opened their extra energetic set with a pair of new album tracks. “Sadistic Girls” and “Guestlist” worked out great and audience went wild right from the beginning. It’s fun that the lead singer Jocke Berg does look a bit like Marilyn Manson on stage but his voice does sound like a mix of Stephen Pearcy, Dee Snider and young Steven Tyler. The man can handle his audience extremely well and so did guitarist Vic Zino and bassist Martin Sandvik who kept the high energy level going through the whole show. As expected, the setlist was a mix of new album tracks and the band’s best-known hits. Acoustic “Last Call for Alcohol” worked out fine, and it gave the needed breathing space before the band ended up their set with “Moonshine,” the and band’s biggest hit to date, “We Don’t Celebrate Sundays”. Once again, this was an excellent performance from the Swedes. Welcome back any day!
Twisted Sister has been regular visitors in Finland since the rebirth, which took its place in 2002. The New York quintet was formed in the early 70’s but the band found its most significant success in mid 80’s. Albums like YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK’N ROLL, COME OUT AND PLAY and mostly STAY HUNGRY were topping the charts everywhere in the world. The singles “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” continuously ran on MTV and became massive hits. Although the band disbanded just a few years later after the somewhat disappointing LOVE IS FOR SUCKERS album in 1987 they had already earned their legend status which still seems to live strong and it does carry on the band even today.
This was going to be the band’s fifth performance here in nine years in but it seems that there’s still plenty of demand left for Twisted Sister. It was great to notice that the audience consisted of both young and older people. Many new hard rockers witnessed Twisted Sister for the first time in their lives and many “veterans” who have seen the band’s every performance in Finland.
The veterans did know what would happen when AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top” started to hymn from the monitors. The atmosphere was kind of infatuated and when the band hit on stage at 10:45 PM people went completely crazy. “What You Don’t Know (Sure Can Hurt You) followed by “The Kids are Back” opened the show with a storm. It didn’t seem to bother anyone that the band was not wearing their famous outfits and makeup anymore. The band did sound phenomenal and vocalist Dee Snider is still an amazing frontman at every level. His voice was as sharp and strong as ever. It can be said that most of the men in their mid 50’s can only be jealous for him being in such fit shape after all those years. Snider was in top form but the same can’t be said about his bandmates, who did look more or less just like any middle-aged men picked up from the crowd to play in backing band for Snider. Mark “Animal” Mendoza still had the great “attitude” but especially Jay Jay French looked like a person who wanted to be everywhere else but on stage. The setlist didn’t offer any surprises, with the exception of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”, and it was basically the very same set what the band has played since the re-union. There were altogether seven tracks played from STAY HUNGRY, three from UNDER THE BLADE, two from YOU CAN’T STOP ROCK’N ROLL and just one from COME OUT AND PLAY, which was a little disappointing. In fact, the encores did start with the intro tape of “Come Out and Play” but for reason or another, the actual song wasn’t played and the band headed into S.M.F instead. In brief, this was Dee Snider’s show. It was a very entertaining show,w and there’s no reason we wouldn’t want to see the band once again here in the future?