Ending the year with a bang – Amorphis pre-view

Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis and his dreadlocks

On the Eve on New Year’s Eve (i.e. December 30) we got to see Amorphis at our local rock club. We got there early enough (less than an hour before the gig started) to get front row spots so I’ve got many a picture with Tomi’s dreads hovering over the camera. It was also the first gig in which I tested my Fujifilm X20 in a dark rock club. More on its performance later, but I can’t say that I was disappointed with it.

Amorphis @ Savonlinna 14.4.2012

When we noticed a poster advertising an Amorphis tour in Finland during the spring, we immediately went and bought tickets for the nearest show, which in this case was Savonlinna. What intrigued us about the whole tour was that most of the venues listed where not typical rock clubs but concert halls. When they finally released press releases on the tour, the idea became clear: they would be collaborating with several guest artists, most notably multi-instrumentalist Sakari Kukko. The Savonlinna stop was their second show of the tour.

Tomi Joutsen in candlelight

Alas, I didn’t get a permit to photograph the show, but naturally I did utilized the camera that is always with me, my iPhone. So, all pictures are taken with the phone in typical rock concert lighting which means that for a camera it was dark.

They started off the set with three acoustic renditions of songs from all over their over twenty year career, the attached video at the end of the post is of the third song of the set, Sign from the North Side (from their first album Karelian Isthmus). Alas, I’ve never been one to memorize setlists so I can’t give a full setlist here. The acoustic renditions were performed by the whole band joined with Sakari Kukko and Mari Multanen a female vocalist whose name I didn’t catch when Tomi announced it.

The acoustic renditions where a marvelous showcase of the musical skills in Amorphis. They weren’t in any way done by just taking the shortest path of replacing electrical instruments with acoustic but they had been fully rearranged. Anyone who knows early Amorphis will be expecting growl vocals in the video clip, but the vocals are everything but. The acoustic portion was almost like I could expect a good session in a Jazz club would feel like.

Esa Holopainen and Sakari Kukko

After the three acoustic songs, the instruments were replaced with the more traditional electrics and Tomi Joutsen stuck to only vocals. Sakari Kukko and the female vocalist joined the band on stage for several of the songs with only a few performed only by the pure Amorphis lineup. For example the vocals in the beginning of Mermaid (from the latest album The Beginning of Times) were sung live instead of coming from a backing track. After a set of a bit over an hour, it was time for the encores.

The encores again started off with a fully acoustic set with two songs performed acoustically. Again sorry, but I don’t remember which ones. After that, it was back to electrics with Amorphis’ sing-along hit, House of Sleep. Although the house wasn’t full and the crowd was – well small to what I’m used to seeing when they are on stage – the crowd managed to make quite a good amount of noise during the chorus’. The evening was finally capped after about 90 minutes of solid music with the traditional closer My Kantele.

All in all, the gig and concept are a wonderful change to the typical Amorphis gigs. Sure, the inclusion of acoustics meant that the amount of growl vocals was reduced from the typical Amorphis gig, but Amorphis hasn’t been a pure death metal band for ages anyway. I’m fairly certain that the fans lamenting after old-school Amorphis won’t enjoy the gigs, but they manage to complain about modern day Amorphis anyway. Anyone who has an open mind and enjoys shows of excellent musicianship (and likes Amorphis) will enjoy these gigs. For me, the gig was one the best I’ve seen from them, and definitely sharing the spot of most memorable with the Magic & Mayhem tour gig from 2010.

P.S. Sorry about the camera shake in the video, while my hand is fairly steady, the fact that the concert room floor swayed with the crowd made absolute steadiness impossible. Not even a tripod would have helped. And honestly, if the house would have been full I’m not sure if the floor would have withstood a metal audience ;)

The best of 2011

Since my look back had nearly thirty images and Jim Goldstein’s listing requires only ten, I’m bothering you with another post of an even more curated list. Of course, editing and selecting is always a good skill so it was great to narrow the list down even a bit more.

Update the list of all entries can be found on Jim’s blog.

Continue reading The best of 2011

A photographic overview of 2011

Well, another year gone by with the camera more or less grown on to my hand. However, even though I took more than enough photographs during the year, somehow I’m left with the feeling that I should have done more. Note, this will be an exceptionally photo heavy post.

Continue reading A photographic overview of 2011

Amorphis @ Sotkamon Syke 2011

As the final installment of the Sotkamon Syke 2011 photographs we get the final artist of the evening – Amorphis (previously The Man-Eating Tree, Tarot). Initially I was hoping we’d be getting some pyros during the show, but unfortunately none were set up and I found out from the crew that the stage was too small for them to use pyros. I was also fairly certain that the gig would be challenging lighting wise – as Amorphis practically always is. Especially during the first three songs.

Early on into the set it became apparent that during the first three, Tomi wouldn’t be getting any significant amount of light in his face so I concentrated on getting good silhouettes of him and trying to get good shots of the rest of the band. Continuing from the audience after the first three with a longer lens then let me get some good shots of Tomi that were lit a bit better.

And I also got the chance to get some shots that showed the rain that had been plaguing us all evening.

Since we’ve seen the play quite a few times and I have a good amount of solid and typical concert photography shots of the band I really decided to explore the possibilities that the strong backlight and raindrops on the lens would give me. This is one of my favorites:

The Amorphis set was as solid as they usually are and contained most of the typical songs they play in a festival setting. Majestic Beast was a great exception to the typical set.

As always, more pictures in our gallery.