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 ;)