Egotrippi & Olavi Uusivirta
June 20th 2015
Most of us take for granted that Rock Music in its myriad of guises is an English language medium; but that’s not always the case; as I found out last Friday on a visit to Finland.
Our annual visit to see son #1 coincided with the Juhannus! Holiday weekend a Rock Festival held across a couple of venues in his new home city of Tampere; and after a couple of e-mails Media passes were organised and off we went to the Friday evening showcase featuring two of Finland’s most popular bands.
We spent an hour or so wandering around the town square and caught the last two songs from Pekko Kappi & K:H:H:L a group with a ‘rocky’ sound; but couldn’t actually see them for the couple of hundred fans bopping in front of the stage; so we then wandered inside the main building where Eva & Manu were just closing their set. With nothing musical to report we made our way to one of the many, well staffed bars – WOAH!!!!! €11.40 for 2 (TWO) 2/3 of a pints of beer???? Eh?? We late found a separate bar selling similar sized can at €4 each which still equates to about £3…..and they say London pubs are expensive.
Anywise; a couple of pints later the lights went down and local singer/actor Olavi Uusivirta strolled on stage amid a lightning storm of effects and teenybopper style screams from the predominantly female crowd crammed together at the front of the stage.
Obviously I’d not heard of Uusivirta before hands and as he sung in his native language concentrated on photographing the first three songs and basically went on to ‘soak up the atmosphere.’
The diminutive singer is quite the showman; dancing and running around the stage; theatrically twisting his body into various shapes to emphasise the intensity of his songs.
When he slung his jacket off before the second song; the crowd went wild; which became even more frenzied when he jumped off stage to allow his fans to smother him with love when he clambered onto the barrier that separated the crowd from us photographers. Arms were soon coming in from every angle to touch their ‘hero’ who also took the opportunity to kiss a couple of pretty girls too; although one young women looked horrified and wagged her finger in his face when he leaned his head towards her.
In a very Springsteenesque scene Olavi picked a pretty girl out of the front row to join him for a song; which meant the girl was to sing the chorus with him and also waltz around him; similar to the video to the original song. My son assures me that there has never been a month since time began that the Finnish Top 20 hasn’t included a waltz tune of one style or another.
The music was a professionally frantic mix of Pop/Rock/Blues and; alongside Uusivirta’s theatrical performance and willingness to bare his well toned 5-pack; reminded me a lot of Michael Hutchence and Aussie Rockers INXS.
During the break I had a good look at the audience; which was unlike just about any I’ve ever encountered before. Both Uusivirta and headline act Egotrippi had obviously attracted a lot of female fans; made up of starry eyed teenage students, middle aged housewives with twinkles in their eyes and quite a few older women who could have been Finnish Cougars! (The town’s ice-hockey team is called Ilves aka Mountain Cats!)
Alongside these ladies were an assortment of Punks and heavily tattooed and pierced Heavy Metal fans alongside hundreds of conservatively dressed men and women of all ages taking the opportunity to see quality live music in their home town.
Eventually the stage was set for Egotrippi who are Finland’s longest serving and most successful band, and were celebrating over 20 years in the business, to start their set at the ungodly hour of 11.30.
The 5 piece band were quite exceptional and looked and played like they had 20 years at the top, under their collective belts especially singer Mikki Kauste; who reminded me of a cross between Bryan Ferry and Scott Walker. Couple this with a band that sounded a bit like Kraftwerk and songs that were mid period Bowie sounding; you will get a feel for the band.
The younger and older ladies had moved away from the front of the hall to be replaced by more middle-aged housewives with a few beers in them; which led to some euphoric looks on their faces when Kauste knelt on the edge of the stage to serenade them with an intensely powerful love song.
Dressed all in black with Kauste playing a Hammond keyboard alongside two guitars and powerhouse rhythm section who kept up a strong pop-Rock beat all night; only occasionally drifting into thunderous solos; and when they did they were greeted with squeals of delight from the crowd.
After a thunderous encore song, which I was told was their ‘hit single in Germany’ they eventually left the stage at just after 1am.
Although the songs were in a foreign language; I still had a great night; only bettered by walking down the main street in bright daylight (it was Midsummer in the country were the ‘sun never sets’) only to be approached by three edgy looking young men.
“Hey! You guys.” The tall gangly one cried out; “Are you guys English?” Then thrust his hand out to shake mine then drunkenly hugged my son. It turned out he was born in Plymouth to an English father and Finnish mother and had lived in Tampere for five years. We then spent 10 minutes talking about football much to the bemusement of his two fuzz-faced friends.
It could only happen to me!