The beginning of a new year means the beginning of a new concert season! Starting the year off at a smaller-scale show, Musicalypse went to see local “tennis metal” band Brother Firetribe during their Fabulous February Tour. The shows hit several towns around Finland, both big and small, kicking off in Jyväskylä on the 6th of February, passing through Helsinki, Vantaa, Tornio, Kitee, Tampere, and Turku before finishing off in Eura. An unusual choice of towns, Bear and Lene L. teamed up to check out the gig at the Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on February 7th. Here’s what they have to say!
Full gallery HERE!
Bear: I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen Brother Firetribe live before, but I have seen Leverage and Nightwish on numerous occasions, and as such, I’m a big fan of Pekka Heino’s vocals, as well as Emppu Vuorinen in general. I’ve only listened to them a few times on Spotify, but I did like what I was hearing. But, the point being, I don’t have a lot of experience with them as a whole. How about you?
Lene: It seems I’m the one with more history with them out of the two of us. I’ve been listening to them since their first album, False Metal, and they’ve definitely got a great thing going on there. The first gig I saw of theirs could have been as early as in the beginning of 2009, if I’m right, and after that there have been only a few opportunities to catch up with them. Way too few, to be honest; a thing that I intended to fix starting at Virgin Oil.
Bear: It’s really great to get the chance to see some of these smaller but no less talented local bands when they choose to come out of hiding! It’s great that they make time for these tours. Pekka has always been a solid frontman, and has a really nice demeanor. Though on this occasion, the first thing I noticed was that he didn’t have his luxurious “gym teacher” hair anymore. The Kotipelto-esque quaffs were gone, replaced by a shorter, pompadour style. The difference was so severe that I wasn’t sure at first if they had changed singers. Naturally, the moment he opened his mouth, I knew better! But, that’s not really the point. What’s really worth hearing about is the show itself.
Lene: Mentioning the hair changes is sort of mandatory with this kind of music, right? Especially with as drastic changes to length as was the case here. But yes, enough about the hair, on with the show. It was ridiculously easy to get in the right mood from the start – “Break Out” as an opener works for me every time, and judging by the looks of the crowd I definitely wasn’t the only one. It’s always nice to see the audience singing along and grinning from ear to ear. It matched quite well with the look on Mr. Vuorinen’s face, didn’t it?
Bear: I can’t get enough of how sweet Emppu is. I’ve never seen him perform without looking like the absolute happiest guitarist in the world (who gets to perform for a loving crowd no less), and this night was certainly no different. There was never a moment where he wasn’t grinning away. What I particularly love about him though, is that he spends SO much time connecting to the crowd personally, even one-on-one, but I’ve never noticed it mess up his performance. He’s such a great combination of crowd-pleaser and musician.
Lene: I agree one-hundred percent with you in this. It all comes so naturally from him, one just has to admire that. I bet a lot of performers would need to practice that kind of thing, but with Emppu it seems to be just more or less the way he is. And taking the upbeat tunes and shamelessly summery feeling in the music into consideration, I think there probably couldn’t be a better side project for him than Brother Firetribe. But the thing I absolutely love is that BFT doesn’t seem like “just” a side project for him, as it tends to be sometimes with musicians who have really successful main bands, and that’s only fair towards the other guys in the band. Speaking of which, we shouldn’t forget how great they are as a whole. It’s always a solid performance and it’s rare to find bands that are a good pick every time mood-wise. It’s all smiles and good times with these guys.
Bear: It’s so true. They have great live chemistry together. They connect and mess around with one another and generally have a good time on stage. Perhaps it helps that they perform so seldomly, that when they do get together it’s full of life, and like you said, that summery vibe. Listening to them made me excited for cold drinks, hot sun, and summer festivals. And I admit to feeling a really proper 80’s vibe from the show in spite of them forming in what, 2002? They really nailed the classic sound with their songs.
Lene: I believe it was actually 2001, but that’s just details. But yes, the unfaltering good feeling at their gigs probably does have at least something to do with the fact they don’t get to do this too often. They’re a real band that is serious about their music, but it seems they feel more like having a damned great hobby. And yes, they definitely are a summer festival band! I was lucky enough to catch them in South Park last summer, and would love to grab my shades and ice cream and watch their show at any occasion next summer as well. I’m afraid that won’t happen anytime soon though, now that Nightwish is releasing their new album. But if we return to our topic, the gig at Virgin Oil, how did you like the setlist?
Bear: Well, that’s a bit tougher for me, since I don’t know their songs so well. Being a newbie has the downside of making it hard to say how well their show compared to other shows, but on the flipside of that, I can tell you which ones really stood out to me. The first of these was “Midnite Queen,” which kind of stopped me in the middle of whatever I was doing because, as I said before, the perfect 80’s metal sound just kind of blew me away. It was just so catchy, and I liked the lyrics in the chorus. Another one that caught my attention was “Trail of Tears”…
Lene: Oh yeah, I think I was about to take a photo, when I realized that Pekka had forgotten the lyrics for the song, and was basically just babbling. But he did recover well from the sudden blackout, I need to give him some credit for that. Actually, most of his speeches after that were recollections of how everything had gone wrong the day before in Jyväskylä, where he apparently had forgotten more than the first couple of verses from one song. Every musician probably has their share of those kinds of gigs, and it’s good when you know how to laugh at them the day after, instead of wallowing in the mistakes.
Bear: It’s definitely nice to know they don’t take themselves too seriously and can laugh at the little things they fudge up. And one other thing I definitely have to give credit for was “Heart Full of Fire.” I am notorious for hating when bands cop out on duets live. If anyone recalls, my biggest disappointment in Within Temptation’s 2014 show was the fact that all of the duets were played over a recording, making for an exceptionally boring live performance of those songs. In this show, Pekka sang the whole song himself, and that is what I want to hear live! I want to hear a band take their song, and then do something new and interesting to it live, or at very least not be afraid to toy with it! Also, that song is just cool. A great choice to finish the set, and of course, love the choice of encore too. What a way to go out!
Lene: Yes, even though “I Am Rock” as an encore is quite an obvious pick, there’s a good reason to play it last: it always gets everyone singing along and dancing like there’s no tomorrow, as was the case this time, too. My other personal favorites from the set were: “Love is Not Enough,” “Runaways,” “Winner Takes it All” (a Sammy Hagar cover), and most of all, “I’m on Fire.” What I love the most about the songs from Diamond in the Firepit is how easily they have blended in with the old tracks at gigs; it’s not like they’re repeating the same song over and over, that’s not the thing, but the albums are all balanced and equally good, with that unmistakable Brother Firetribe sound.
Bear: And you can’t look any further than a crowd to see how great a band is. This was a show with a solid performance, a great atmosphere, and everyone was reacting to it, hands up and cheering! Virgin Oil may not be the best place to have a gig, so it says something about the quality of the band that they can fill it regardless, and no one seems to mind.
1. Break Out
3. One Single Breath
4. Love is Not Enough
5. Midnite Queen
6. Trail of Tears
7. I’m on Fire
9. Reality Bites
10. Winner Takes it All (Sammy Hagar cover)
11. Hanging by a Thread
12. For Better or for Worse
13. Wildest Dreams
14. Heart Full of Fire
15. I Am Rock
Text: Bear W., Lene L. | Photos: Lene L.