When Greybeard announced the Best Tour Ever pt. I, we were a little skeptical of the boastful name. However, when the bands on the roster were Lost Society, Arion, Shiraz Lane, and Wheel, we changed our tune a bit. Starting right after Christmas in Jyväskylä and working their way around the country, the tour came by the soon-closing Nosturi on December 30th, 2019, marking Musicalypse’ last time at the legendary local venue.
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Listen to a collection of songs from the night as a playlist on Spotify:
The event started at a surprisingly late opening time of 19:00 for four bands on a Monday night. The doors opened right on time and people swiftly began coming inside, and there was enough time to get a comfortable place in the venue if you wanted to see Wheel.
These prog newcomers jumped into the scene and mowed through our staff, getting pretty much everyone on board with them. Having been to many of their shows this year already, we had a pretty good idea of what to expect from them. The last of these was at the Helsinki Ice Hall warning up for A Chapter Called Children of Bodom. That was a great show, but we enjoyed this one a lot more. From a new band like Wheel to tried-and-true legends like Dream Theater or Opeth, prog just seems to work better in clubs. It’s not a flashy music and doesn’t need a big stage (although Pink Floyd certainly proved that a big stage show doesn’t hurt). What prog does need is tight sound quality and people who really “get” the music. That’s what Nosturi offered and apart from the unbeatable ambiance of a castle, this was the best show of theirs I’ve seen this year.
Now that we’ve spoken with Aki Virta, it was even more interesting to watch him on bass, as natural and into the music as a bass player gets; it seems that he and Wheel are as good a match as they claimed! James Lascelles came out from under his hood in “Please,” his vocals as ambient and emotional, as ever. Watch out, Maynard, this one might steal your throne!
What can I say about these guys that I haven’t said already? This tour was a great way to close out a great year for them and putting a band like this on Nosturi’s stage for the last time feels somehow poetic – Wheel was the perfect band to start the Best Tour Ever and a perfect last band to see gracing that stage for the first time.
5. Where the Pieces Lie
Unlike Wheel, it feels like ages since I’ve seen Shiraz Lane. Their last few clubs shows haven’t synced up with my schedules unfortunately, so I haven’t had a chance to see any of their new material live from their 2018 release, Carnival Days. Luckily their oriental intro started up leading them on stage for “Tidal Wave,” so I didn’t need to wait long to catch up. They moved straight into their older hit, “Mental Slavery,” another great live song that they played really well.
These guys seem to really be having fun on stage these days and the few spaces left in the crowd filled right up as their set began. Vocalist Hannes Kett greeted the audience a few times but kept the speeches short (likely because of the limited set time). The crowd was quite willing to clap along or cheer whenever prompted and the band looked happy and comfortable together on stage – they certainly feel like they still have an original line-up, which is nice.
“Harder to Breathe” was an easy and energetic favorite from the set, followed by a loud crowd singalong before they played their new cover of “To the Moon and Back” by Savage Garden to finish the show. It really is a great song, released only a few days ago, so it was a nice treat to hear it live as the final song. I would’ve liked to have heard the title track from the album, but I suppose I’ll have to wait for one of their headlining shows (or at least a longer set than in a mini-festival).
It was great to have a chance to see these guys at Nosturi before it’s closed forever. Shiraz Lane still seem to be making great music with a positive vibe and a lot of energy and that’s all we hoped for!
Shiraz Lane setlist (approximate):
1. Tidal Wave
2. Mental Slavery
3. People Like Us
5. Do You
6. Harder to Breathe
7. To the Moon and Back (Savage Garden cover)
Greybeard seemed to have had a plan in mind, starting with prog, moving to happy rock, and then going on to power metal. The energy built up with every band and Arion were the ones to kick it into a real overdrive. “Here’s to the Fall” started at 21:50 and the band came out to a wildly foggy stage and enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. They went straight into the awesome empowerment anthem that is “No One Stands in My Way.”
They dipped into their older material with “I am the Storm” and then returned to the new album for the awesome fist-pumping powerhouse, “Punish You.” Much like Wheel, we also have seen Arion more than our share of times this year and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun. This time was no different, though I did note that Lassi Vääränen is singing Elize Ryd’s vocal parts in their duet, “At the Break of Dawn,” and relying less on the backing track – I’m not sure if he’s only just started doing it or not but either way, it makes the song much better live.
Arion’s music is so awesome and energetic that it feels impossible not to love it. A little set diversity from the summer might’ve been cool, but all of their songs are good so that’s hardly a complaint. Kaipainen still shreds, Velinov still grins, and Vääränen still wails. All is right in the world.
Intro: Here’s to the Fall
1. No One Stands in My Way
2. I Am the Storm
3. Punish You
5. Out of the Ashes
6. You’re My Melody
8. At the Break of Dawn
In an interesting turn of events, Lost Society is the band I have seen the least recently. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them in a club venue, let alone headlining, so this was a new(ish) way to experience these guys for me.
They opened up their set with “No Absolution,” the title track of their upcoming 2020 release of the same name, which was released as a single in 2019. This was followed by “N.W.L.” and “Deliver Me,” the latter of which is their other new single from a bit earlier in the year.
Samy Elbanna was constantly there to hype up the crowd and get you to go crazy, as good a frontman as you can hope for in a thrash band. None of the band is afraid to get up there and get in your face and rock the fuck out as much as they can. While musically, Lost Society and their thrash have always struck me as very good, I’m not a big fan of the genre in general. The new material was a bit more melodic, which appealed to me and if I’m not careful, Lost Society might just convert me from a passing appreciator to an active fan.
The club setting worked well for Lost Society, though we know from experience that they can make a festival crazy too. For the last bands we saw on the Nosturi stage, this was a powerful way to close out the event… and an era.
Lost Society setlist:
1. No Absolution
3. Deliver Me
4. Kill (Those Who Oppose Me)
5. Terror Hungry
6. Guerrilla Radio (RatM cover)
8. Into Eternity
While I don’t quite know if I’m willing to say this was the best tour ever, it was nevertheless a damn good tour with four damn good bands playing. The night had everything you’d like, from prog to rock, and power metal to thrash, each band some of the best the local scene has to offer right now. If this is part 1, we hope there’s going to be a part 2 coming soon, and if the band selection is just as tight as this time around, you can be sure that we’ll be back again when the time comes!
Photos: Patty Gonzalez