December is a traditionally busy season for Christmas office parties. One of Finland’s metal sweethearts, Mokoma, decided to arrange a special Christmas party of their own with five gigs around the country. The band’s newest album, Elävien Kirjoihin, published last February, was warmly received by their fans, thus it was no surprise that when arriving to Klubi in Tampere on December 5th, 2015, the first thing to be seen outside the venue was a sign stating that the show was sold out.
When I heard Mokoma would do a mini tour called Työpaikan pikkujoulut (Workplace Christmas Party) I immediately knew I had to be there for at least one of the gigs. During the past few years, Mokoma has grown on me and is nowadays one of my favorites in the Finnish metal scene. The show in Tampere sold out a few days before the night of the event, which raised my expectations for the evening – at least the crowd would be plentiful and probably enthusiastic.
For reasons unknown, I have managed to attend gigs at Tampere’s Klubi exactly zero times before this event, so I was excited to see what the venue was like. Honestly speaking, my first impression was skeptical. The curved stage with no fence between it and the audience, and a couple of pillars close to it got me thinking that a lot of people were going to get bruised tonight. After going to gigs for almost 10 years now, I have a pretty strong opinion of what makes a good venue. With metal gigs like this, the fence is not just there to protect the band on stage, but also gives the front row something to grab onto when the pressure really hits them. With Mokoma, you could be certain that there would be a moshpit and I could already imagine eager metal heads flinging themselves to the pillars.
I shook off those thoughts and picked a spot from the second row in order to have a good view of the stage when the evening’s opening act, Mörbid Vomit, hit the stage. This death metal band from Lahti, Finland, was a new acquaintance for me. At this point it was nice to notice that the venue was already quite packed, so the band had plenty of people to show what they were made of.
Four guys covered in black and red paint appeared on stage and began a solid and tight 45-minute set. No questions asked, no unnecessary chit-chat, just pure, raw metal from the very beginning. The band did not waste time with long speeches between songs, but lacking this kind of contact did not seem to bother the audience. Mörbid Vomit did just what the supporting act is supposed to do: warm up the crowd for the main act. In addition, the gig got me thinking that this band deserves a closer look. Mörbid Vomit released their new album, Doctrine of Violence, this October, which might soon find its way to my playlist as well. Special credit must be given to the bass player, Pyry Hanski, who was moshing throughout the whole set. I’m not sure if I should envy him for his stamina or feel sorry for him while thinking about the next morning and the almost unavoidable neck pain he must have suffered.
During Mörbid Vomit I noticed one rather unpleasant feature of there not being that extra meter or two between the stage and the audience. In Klubi, the front row really gets close to the band as well as its share of the blazing stage lights. Just standing close to the stage, even without moshing and moving, made me feel extremely warm. Also, the stage lights were directed so that sunglasses would have been a necessity. Having those bright lights pointing right at you when you are trying to have a look what’s happening on the stage is not ideal.
The venue was packed well before it was time for Mokoma to start their Christmas party on stage. The stage was decorated with Christmas ornaments and the drummer Janne “Hyge” Hyrkäs even had some hanging from his vest. Both the crowd and the venue were ready for a 1½ hour Christmas party to remember.
The gig started with “Kiellän itseni” from Mokoma’s fourth album, Tämän maailman ruhtinaan hovi, giving the evening a proper kick-start. The audience was pampered with older favorites like “Hei hei heinäkuu,” which always seems to lift the crowd’s spirits, and “Sydänjuuret,” which is one of my own favorites. The main focus however was on the new material. The band clearly seems to enjoy performing newer songs, since the setlist included seven songs in total from Elävien kirjoihin. At one point during the gig, vocalist Marko Annala told the audience that the band had received several comments stating that their latest album was also their best one yet. I personally have not picked my favorite from the bands discography, but Elävien kirjoihin definitely is a strong and coherent entity.
Hearing people around me shouting and singing along and feeling the pressure waves coming from the moshpit behind me made it impossible to be unhappy with any of the aspects of this gig. If there was something wrong, it was the crowd-blinding stage lights, which ended up being less of a problem than I would have thought thanks to the generous use of less-bright reddish lights.
Being a rather special tour also meant that there were special things happening on stage. Twice the band started playing the chorus from one of their classic-like songs, “Takatalvi,” only this time with modified lyrics to make it more Christmassy. “Tip-tap-tip-tap-tippy-tippy-tip-tap” sang Marko like in one certain Christmas carol. Talk about a true Christmas spirit!
Also one lucky lady from the audience joined Annala for a spin during the middle part of “Mutta minulta puuttuisi rakkaus.” This tradition has apparently gone on since the release of Elävien kirjoihin and we are not complaining.
After seeing Mokoma live a ‘couple’ of times, I have to say there is always a special kind of energy in the air. Each of the songs heard during the gig told a story which one can relate to one way or another, whether it was about lost love, hate, depression, or the sort. Also, the band has a nice range of slower and calmer songs so that the audience can catch their breath. At least I needed them after getting a sore throat from all the shouting.
Indeed there was one sweaty, exhausted, but happy audience after Mokoma ended their set with the last encore song, “Punainen kukko.” I would not be surprised if the crowd on the other side of the wall in Pakkahuone heard when the fans of Mokoma shouted, “Saatanan kukko,” from the top of their lungs.
There is not really anything left to say except that once again Mokoma gave the crowd a night to remember. Even though I am not a fan of the venue due to the aforementioned reasons, it turned out to be less unpleasant than I would have thought. An aching neck and sore throat were left over the following day to remind me of Mokoma’s Workplace Christmas Party… discomforts that I am ready to suffer in exchange for one damned awesome gig!
1. Kiellän itseni
4. Uhkakuva 6
5. Sudet ihmisten vaatteissa
6. Hei hei heinäkuu
7. Pahaa verta
8. Mutta minulta puuttuisi rakkaus
10. Elävien kirjoihin
11. Nujerra ihminen
13. Hujan hajan
14. Pohja on nähty
1. Sinne missä aamu sarastaa
2. Kasvot kohti itää
3. Punainen kukko