KRAPIN PAJA, TUUSULA
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
Sami Yaffa is a Finnish musician who first became known in the late ’70s as a member of Pelle Miljoona Oy at sixteen. In 1980 he joined the legendary glam/hard rock band Hanoi Rocks, with whom Yaffa found international success. The band relocated to London, and during the following years, Hanoi Rocks released five studio albums and toured extensively around the world. Unfortunately, following the tragic death of the band’s drummer Razzle Dingley, Yaffa split with the band in 1985. He toured and recorded with Johnny Thunders and Pelle Almgren for two years before moving to the US in 1987. There Yaffa joined the band Jetboy. Later on, he worked with Michael Monroe on Jerusalem Slim and Demolition 23, toured with Joan Jett, formed his own band Mad Juana, and finally joined the New York Dolls in 1995. Since the beginning of 2010, Yaffa has been the bassist of the Michael Monroe band. The band started touring in the spring of 2010, and to this date, the band has released five studio albums. During the past few years, Yaffa has also released several books, and he was a part of the eight-part television series Sami Yaffa – Sound Tracker. He played briefly with the Hellacopters and played with Pelle Miljoona Oy on various occasions. The list goes on, and the man has been more than busy for sure. But it seems that nothing is enough for Sami Yaffa. In September 2021, he released the debut solo album “The Innermost Journey to Your Outermost Mind.” Now he’s on tour promoting the album.
As mentioned earlier, “The Innermost Journey to Your Outermost Mind” was released last September, and the album received a very warm welcome here in Finland. If I remember correctly, the album debuted as number three in the official Finnish album chart, and the vinyl version has been long completely sold out. And the same trend has continued with the ticket sales on this ongoing tour in Finland. Most of the shows have been sold out in advance, and it was the same thing tonight here in Krapin Paja in Tuusula. On this tour, the band consists of the two former HIM members Linde Lindeman (guitar), Emerson Burton (keyboards), and drummer Janne Haavisto, a well-known veteran drummer from various bands.
In several interviews, Sami Yaffa said that his solo album is a kind of harmonious combination of all things he has done musically in the past. And he’s correct if you ask me. The opening show “Armageddon Together” has a great, kind of 70’s groove on it, and it was a great and powerful way to open the show. The second song, “Selling Me Shit,” is something completely different. It’s a straightforward in-your-face punk type of song, and it works great in a live situation. Yaffa and the band had a lot of energy on stage, and like on the album, I was stunned by how great he could sing the lead vocals. I knew in advance that the band would perform the album entirely and in album order, spiced with a couple of surprises in the end. And that’s just fine. “Fortunate One” is another straight energetic rock song that could easily have been included on the early Hellacopters or Backyard Babies albums, whereas “Rotten Roots” sounds like a mix of reggae, classic rock 70’s hippie music. Yaffa’s Michael Monroe band colleague Rich Jones had a significant role in the writing of the album. Although the pair co-wrote most of the album together, especially “Germinator” and “Down at St. Joe’s,” sound like those songs could have been on any of the past few Michael Monroe band albums. “I Can’t Stand It” sounded like a “sister song” to “Armageddon Together” because of the groove and dominating bass riff.
Next comes one of the more confusing songs of the album. “You Gimme Fever.” Believe it or not, but for me, this song sounds like an Andy McCoy track. This reggaeish song could have been on Andy’s “Real McCoy” movie soundtrack. However, it calms down the gig atmosphere and fits well in this part of the set. The best-known song on the album is “The Last Time.” The song was the first single off the album, and people seemed to love this energetic Scandinavian rock -song. “Look Ahead” was one of the highlights of the show. This mellow and groovy rocker really worked, and it offered an excellent counterweight for the heavier tracks.”. In this song, Yaffa’s singing sounded almost like “Lemmy” and was really cool. The last piece of the main set was “Cancel the End of The World,” and then the band took a brief break.
Like in the previous shows on the tour, the band would next play selected songs from Yaffa’s past bands. The game was opened with the New York Doll’s “Temptation to Exist.” I know how proud Sami is about his past with the band, but to be honest, this song was not the best he recorded with the Dolls, so it was a bit letdown at this place. The old Johnny Thunders classic “I Wanna Be Loved” followed, and although it’s a good song, Michael Monroe’s band has played this song live for years, so it would have been great to hear some less performed song instead? The old Hanoi Rocks classic “Lost on the City” was definitely one of those. Before the song, Sami talked the song briefly. He joked about the similar vocal line used on Guns’ n Roses “Paradise City” compared to “Lost in the City” lyrics and mentioned that this song is one of his Hanoi favorites. I don’t wonder why. The song rocket out like a moose, and the crowd loved it. Once the place was already warmed, the old Pelle Miljoona Oy classic “Olet Kaunis” was the perfect end for this show. Energetic and a bit chaotic punk song fit in this place like a hot knife to butter. The show was over. The band appeared once more time on the stage, bowed, and left the scene.
This was definitely one of the best rock shows I’ve seen in a club environment for a while. However, the setlist was relatively short, only approx. sixty minutes. But the variety of the songs and the energy and sense of humor the band on stage replaced it perfectly. The old saying goes, “it doesn’t matter how long it is, but the important thing is how to use it,” and it fits perfectly with this show. Also, one thing which must be mentioned here is Yaffa’s songwriting on the solo album. After listening to the record and now seeing him singing performing it live, one can only wonder why Yaffa’s name can’t be found from any of the old Hanoi Rocks song-writing credits? Maybe his writing has just developed over the years. He has credits for the Dolls albums, but maybe there were some “political” issues regarding the writing credits with Hanoi.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was surprised how well Yaffa can sing the lead vocals. If I’m not wrong, this tour is the very first time he’s doing that himself. The rest of the band worked and sounded good as well. Especially Burton sang a lot of backing vocals that made the choruses sound as they should. Overall, it was good the see the HIM guys back together in action after all these years. Someone told me tonight that there will be more Sam Yaffa solo shows coming on next spring. I hope that this tour will expand outside of Finland, too, because I’m sure that many fans would love to see Sam and the boys in action, especially in the UK and the rest of Scandinavia.
Selling Me Shit
Down at St.Joe’s
I Can’t Stand It
You Gimme Fever
The Last Time
Cancel The End Of The World
Temptation to Exist
I Wanna Be Loved
Lost in the City