Lustdriven. The latest album by Kiuas was released on March 31st, 2010, with a tour starting immediately afterwards. Kiuas has already solidified themselves as an incredible act in a sea of generic bands on the folk spectrum. Since we happened to be up in Sotkamo, we had a question that needed answering: is it worth driving 2½ hours to see a Kiuas show? As such, we hopped into the car and made our way to Henry’s Pub in Kuopio on April 1st, 2010.
For myself, Kiuas is perhaps the best new band I’ve found since my move to Finland a year ago. With Lustdriven on the horizon, their first release did not impress me but the second blew me away. I had never seen these guys live before and was really excited to see them on stage. I had no idea what to expect, but I had high hopes. I even promised myself that if I enjoyed three new songs live (the hardest way to discover new music, for me at least), I’d buy the album.
We arrived in time to catch a bit of the opener, No Sign of Life, a band that I had never heard of then, nor have I heard of since. Their music wasn’t bad – sort of like Linkin Park meets Soilwork, but it didn’t manage to be especially memorable. They even randomly went into hip-hop at one direction, so the word ‘messy’ comes to mind a bit. However, as far as openers go, it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen by a long shot.
But it was not No Sign of Life we had come to see. No, it was Kiuas. And they did not disappoint.
There is a reason for Kiuas’ popularity. Apart from Mikko Salovaara being a ridiculously talented guitarist/songwriter and Atte Tanskanen being a extremely good keyboardist, Ilja Jalkanen has one of the most interesting and versatile voices I have ever heard. He can growl, he can scream, and he can sing. He can sing low, high, and can sound like a totally different person from song to song. He has a really powerful stage presence, he’s very charming and charismatic – and funny! – when addressing the crowd, and the crowd responds to him in full.
As for the music? Live perfection. The song selection was absolute. I heard more of my favorites than I expected to hear, and the selection of new songs was phenomenal. I mentioned that if they caught my attention with three new songs, I’d buy the album – they played five. I willingly shelled out for the album and we played it on repeat the 2½ hour drive back home. But I digress…
Tanskanen is a bit wooden live, but that’s kind of common in keyboardists, I feel. He totally blew my mind with the solo in “Lights Are Many”, which is an absolutely gorgeous new ballad. Salovaara is one of the Finnish guitar masters and his live performance is as great as everything else he does… though his guitar is pretty hilarious in the sense that it looks way more glam metal than folk.
The set included great older tunes like “Spirit of Ukko”, “The Decaying Doctrine”, “The New Dark Age”, and “To Excel and Ascend.” From Lustdriven, they graced us with “Aftermath”, “The Visionary”, “The Lights are Many”, “Of Love, Lust, and Human Nature” (another personal new favorite), and at least one other. They ended the show with the ever-amazing “Across the Snows” and the encore was, naturally, “Warrior Soul.”
So was it worth the drive? Yes, yes it was. Though we’re only a handful of months into the year, this was the best show I’ve seen so far. I’ve missed these guys a few times, but no more! I’ll be taking every chance I can get to see them, and I hope that they give me plenty more opportunities.