Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis and his dreadlocks

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 ;)

Amorphis Magic & Mayhem tour 10.12.2010 @ Finlandia-Klubi

Yes, I know the gig was almost a month ago… I blame the holidays and our everlasting house remodeling project. But I finally got around to making my selections and editing the images from the gig today. As fans probably know, Amorphis published an album filled with remakes of songs from their first three albums with the new vocalist as a celebration of their 20 years in the business. In honor of the album, they made a club tour of Finland in late November and early December. Since they weren’t going to hit Joensuu and we were heading south anyway, we decided to catch them in Lahti for a very enjoyable session of Magic & Mayhem.

Like the album, the gigs songs were only from the first three albums as well – in Lahti we even got to hear Tomi Joutsen performing Elegy live for the first time. Another added bonus to fans during the tour was the appearance of Amorphis alumni on-stage. Only one gig (in Tavastia) had the full complement of past and present members, we got to see three: Olli-Pekka Laine, Pekka Kasari, and Kim Rantala.

I also selected a slightly different position than usual when seeing them so that I could get better pictures of the members I didn’t have good shots of. I can’t say that I chose poorly – especially when the stage in Lahti was much larger than in Kuopio or Joensuu and the lighting was bright enough.

It was also the first gig that I shot with my (still) new 7D and EF-S 17-55/2.8. Neither the body nor lens disappointed me and I think I’ve found my new goto setup for concert photography in our small venues.

As always, more pictures available in our photo gallery.

Amorphis 10.9.2010 @ Puikkari

Our week of seeing good live acts ended with Amorphis playing live in Puikkari (review and pictures of Suburban Tribe coming soon). Which meant another drive to Kuopio, but what wouldn’t we do to see Amorphis live. In fact, we were considering a crazy drive to Oulu in early August just to see them and drive back the same night to make to a dog show the next morning… This was the fourth time we’ve seen them live (Kuopio Rock 2009, Kohti rokkia 2008). I’ve shot every time, but still haven’t gone through the pictures of them playing in Kellari last November. I blame breaking my hand the next day for my procrastination ;)