LORDI: Scream Stream – Paha Kurki, Rovaniemi, 22.05.2020 (English)

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As the first coronavirus restrictions set in around Europe, some bands were already out on the road and were forced to return home. One of them was Lordi, whose European tour in support of their latest album, Killection, was cut short and their domestic shows in Finland were also postponed. To the joy of their fans, however, on the May 22nd, 2020, the monsters gathered at Rovaniemi‘s Paha Kurki for their Scream Stream, which was hosted by Keikalla.fi.

Follow the set as a playlist (excluding “Hulking Dynamo” and “Evilove”) on Spotify:

I have to admit from the outset that, due to extenuating circumstances, I was unable to watch the stream live as on the night of the event I was beyond the reach of a proper internet connection, so this review is purely based on the recording of the night and was written after the fact. There’s an irony to this in the sense that Scream Stream was organized on the 14th anniversary of Lordi‘s Eurovision victory, as back in 2006 I had to watch the historical moment afterwards on a VHS tape because I was too young to stay up and watch the live broadcast from Athens.

Anyway, let’s cut the reminiscences and get to the point: the host of the evening, Dylan Broda, appropriately opened the event with an introduction from Lordi‘s Square in Rovaniemi, after which we were taken to the venue where the set kicked off with the title-track of the band’s debut, Get Heavy (2002). Since Lordi‘s stage props had been left behind in Germany upon the monsters’ untimely homecoming, the band played seated without special effects or anything of the sort. Mr. Lordi stated that the situation looked like their rehearsals, except for the fancier environment, referring to the interior of Paha Kurki, which he had worked on himself: the venue had been decorated with – among others – guitars and (naturally!) pictures of artists such as KISS and Alice Cooper.

Apart from a few obligatory hits, the setlist was based on fan requests, so it included a lot of songs that hadn’t been played in years or even ever; therefore, Mr. Lordi had cheat-sheets to help him remember the lyrics. Right off the bat, the second song was “Hulking Dynamo,” which had been recorded in the Get Heavy sessions but didn’t see the light of day until 2012 on the Scarchives Vol. 1 compilation. Having been a Lordi fan in my childhood, it was fascinating to hear a “new” old song like this, which I hadn’t listened to back in the day but was made of familiar ingredients, like a lost piece of my youth. There were quite a few more B-sides and bonus tracks in the set, as “Evilove,” “Hate at First Sight,” and “The House” – a cover of the Finnish 80s act Dingo’s “Autiotalo” translated into English – all got played. Another rarity was ex-bassist Kalma‘s signature song “Kalmageddon,” as it hadn’t been played since his departure from the group.

Mr. Lordi pointed out that the majority of the fan picks were from the first three albums and joked that apparently the band had come up with a lot of crap since then. Having listened to Lordi up until Deadache (2008), I can’t judge the albums that came after it, but naturally focusing on the early material was more than fine with me and showed just how brilliant hard rockers “Shotgun Divorce,” “Supermonstars,” “Not the Nicest Guy,” and the likes are and how well they’ve aged. That said, newer tracks such as the exhilarating “Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man” and “Cutterfly,” which Mr. Lordi surprisingly revealed to have been inspired by a Toto concert he saw, also justified their place in the set. However, even most of the newer songs were in the clearly 80s-influenced vein of Get Heavy and The Arockalypse (2006), so it seems as though the melodic side of Lordi is closer to the fans’ hearts than heavy riffage.

At the beginning of the stream it still felt a little weird to see the monsters playing seated in such a restrained manner, but it took surprisingly little time to get used to this setup. The band seemed to loosen up, and in some songs, Mr. Lordi tried to engage the viewers as if they were there in person. The playing was fairly effortless, even though there was a lot of new repertoire in the set, especially for bassist Hiisi, who joined the pack last year. A particularly great moment was Amen‘s guitar solo on “It Snows in Hell,” which according to his own words is improvised and different every time. Mr. Lordi smoked and drank Pepsi Max so much that I wondered more than once how all the smoke and carbonic acid would affect the vocals, but his voice only failed him on “Beast Loose in Paradise” and “The House.” The sound was good for the most part, although in the early portion of the show, in particular, Hella‘s keyboards were slightly overpowered by the other instruments.

Back in the day, in the song “Bringing Back the Balls to Rock,” Lordi sang “less isn’t more / less is less / the more, the better / the most, the best,” and this philosophy could be seen in the Scream Stream as well. While the actual performance was fairly stripped down (except for the masks, of course), the stream also included numerous video inserts, such as greetings from behind-the-scenes people and past guest stars from Lordi’s recordings, an interview with the owner couple of Paha Kurki, and a tour of Rovaniemi guided by Mr. Lordi, during which the viewers were introduced to places that were important to him and many of his friends. Besides all this, host Dylan Broda – whose continuous hype got a little amusing at times, though he did seem to be sincerely excited – asked the band questions sent by the fans and for background details on the songs performed. The stream ended up being a nearly 4-hour spectacle and since the victorious Eurovision song, “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” had been heard in the middle already, “Would You Love a Monsterman?” – the debut single that put Lordi on the map in the first place – had the honor of being the closer, after which the monsters thanked the viewers and signed a bass drum head that was won by the fan who had sent the best question.

 

Scream Stream was much more than a mere virtual gig and offered Lordi fans plenty of bang for their buck. Clearly a lot of effort had been put into the stream and the entire package was entertaining in every way. While the four hours flew by in a breeze, I believe a little less time could’ve been spent on the fan questions, as the inserts and the song introductions already gave the band a fair amount of breaks and most of the members’ masks were so impractical in terms of speaking that they couldn’t give very detailed answers. However, the music side of things worked, serving as a reminder of how strong Lordi‘s songwriting can be at its best, proving that the monster squad’s live playing isn’t dependent on the showy elements. I’m a little skeptical as to whether I’ll get to see Lordi‘s horror theater in the flesh in September already, but hopefully I won’t have to wait for too long once the pandemic has subsided.

Setlist:
1. Get Heavy
2. Hulking Dynamo
3. Blood Red Sandman
4. Evilove
5. Let’s Go Slaughter He-Man (I Wanna Be the Beast-Man in the Masters of the Universe)
6. Kalmageddon
7. Who’s Your Daddy?
8. Shotgun Divorce
9. Beast Loose in Paradise
10. Hard Rock Hallelujah
11. The House (Dingo cover)
12. Cutterfly
13. The Riff
14. Hate at First Sight
15. Supermonstars (The Anthem of the Phantoms)
16. Not the Nicest Guy
17. Icon of Dominance
18. Like a Bee to the Honey
19. Biomechanic Man
20. It Snows in Hell
21. Devil is a Loser
22. My Heaven is Your Hell
23. Would You Love a Monsterman?

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