Hailing from Tornio, CMX have reached the 16th album in their career already. After the release of Alkuteos in February, the band set out on the Kolmen vuosikymmenen lauluja (Songs from Three Decades) Tour. At the first two shows, they also performed synth versions of their songs under the name elektroCMX, just like last year at the Helsinki Festival. Musicalypse ended up reporting from a regular gig at Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki, on March 30th, but the date would turn out to be significant in its own way.
Listen to CMX’s official playlist of the songs played on the tour on Spotify here (Note: does not include “Götterdämmerung”, which is missing from Spotify):
Alkuteos is a refreshing release in CMX’s discography, although it hasn’t remained in my player for too long as of yet. The band didn’t break away from rock as I suggested in my Helsinki Festival report, but the influence of the electronic set can be heard in the music. Sure, they’ve had keyboards on their albums before, but on the new one there’s even a hint of 80s in them, which isn’t something that has been heard a lot from CMX before. The album is proggy yet easy to digest, and therefore I was curious to hear the material live.
The gig began with an electronic intro, after which the opening track “Elementa” from the new album naturally got the show properly started. The band was in good form right from the start, but the audience seemed rather stiff – was this caused by the new and unfamiliar song, the lack of a support band, or the over-2-hour-long wait from the opening of the doors? Anyway, the mood changed in the blink of an eye when “Linnunhammas” kicked in, as the crowd woke up from its slumber and you could see movement among the people. The performance also showed how well the material from the poorly produced Rautakantele (1995) translates live – it’s a crying shame that the album hasn’t been given the remix treatment that Aurinko (1992) and Aura (1994) received.
A.W. Yrjänä greeted the crowd, marveling at how many people there were, and noted that it was CMX’s 33th birthday, as the band was formed in 1985 on Good Friday. The anniversary date was therefore ideal for the theme of the tour, as the band had promised beforehand that songs from each full-length album would be played. This didn’t exactly happen though, as Iäti (2010) was neglected completely, but despite this, CMX’s set was a good cross-section of their whole catalog. The wonderful “Taivaan lapset” was an excellent choice to play in Ostrobothnia due to its lyrics, which mention expanses, whereas “Meidän syntimme” represented “Easter music” in Yrjänä’s words and indeed brought a magically pious atmosphere of its own into the venue. Hits like “Kultanaamio” and “Ainomieli” encouraged people to sing along, but there was also room for not-so-obvious tunes such as “Isohaara” and “Fysiikka ei kestä”, so this was by no means an unsurprising series of hits.
The serenity of “Siivekäs” and “Puuvertaus” received counterparts in the onslaught of “Punainen komentaja” and “Pedot”, and even fans of hardcore were served a treat in the form of “Götterdämmerung.” From the perspective of someone not too familiar with early CMX, surprising highlights included the slow version of “Katariinanpyörä” and “Kätketty kukka”, in whose solo Janne Halmkrona incorporated a snippet of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, which came out in the same year back in the day. As an interesting fact about the latter tune, Yrjänä mentioned that it was most likely premiered in Seinäjoki at Provinssirock in 1991. Finally, the rumble of “Discoinferno” brought the show to a worthy end, and one could exit Rytmikorjaamo feeling content.
The band was in good shape and handled the progginess of “Konx om pax” and “Seitsentahokas” in the middle of the set with grace, but there was still a certain feeling of danger and spontaneity in the air, as Yrjänä’s slightly fumbling singing on “Laavaa” showed. Halmkrona, on the other hand, messed up on last year’s radio hit “Katso ihmistä”, after which he appealed to the audience, “Can we collectively agree that that song sucks so that I won’t have to learn it?” The light show worked finely, especially during the synth-driven single “Puolikas hyvää”, and the lights on “Discoinferno” were indeed like straight out of a hellish disco. I have to criticize the sound of the show though – the rumble of the bass drum was unnecessarily loud and turned the ending of “Pedot” and “Götterdämmerung” into a hot mess. Yrjänä’s iconic bass riff on “Kultanaamio” could barely be heard, and the vocals were likewise buried by the instruments at times. On top of it all, the air conditioning at Rytmikorjaamo, which even Ville Valo poked fun at a while ago, was again virtually nonexistent, and stepping into the crowd was like entering a badly heated sauna – what a way to get people to buy more drinks…
I had assumed the biggest CMX craze would be limited to the big university cities, but the atmosphere at the band’s 33th anniversary evening in Seinäjoki was superb and showed me that even in Ostrobothnia there are passionate listeners, even though the vibe was not as ecstatic as last year at the special Talvikuningas (2007) show. Despite the band’s long age, you can’t sense any sign of weariness or contrived toil in CMX’s performances, probably thanks to the band’s relaxed touring schedule and the changing tour themes and sets. The band’s playing was tight, but not workmanlike, and even though the same setlist had been played at other shows, the performance didn’t feel scripted or stiff. I would’ve gladly heard more new material than just three picks (which worked nicely live), but on the other hand, this gives a good reason to see the band in the future as well – perhaps “Verenpuna” and “Alkemisti” will be premiered on the third rarity tour?
5. Meidän syntimme
6. Taivaan lapset
8. Punainen komentaja
9. Konx om pax
12. Katso ihmistä
13. Fysiikka ei kestä
17. Puolikas hyvää
18. Kätketty kukka