Swedish Pain returned to Finland for a mini tour of four gigs with Finnish Fear of Domination as the opening act. Musicalypse attended the final show of this tour at the Virgin Oil Co. in Helsinki on February 3rd, 2018, to experience an evening filled with industrial metal.
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Or listen along to the set on Spotify:
When I heard Pain would be back in Finland, my first thoughts were, “Really, so soon?” The last time Pain toured in Finland was in November 2016, right after releasing the band’s 8th album, Coming Home. Even though Pain could be considered one of the more frequent visitors when it comes to touring in Finland, I was still surprised – but in a positive way.
In my personal experience, tours between albums – in other words, when there has been some time since the release of the latest album, are usually the most interesting. The artist doesn’t have to promote the new material which means there will be more room for old goodies and maybe some other surprises. Thus, I was eager to attend the gig with high hopes for a diverse setlist.
Before I would find out if my expectations would be met, I was stuck outside in a long line, enjoying the Finnish winter. I always tend to forget that since the ticket sales and cloakroom are right next to each other right by the entrance, the line outside Virgin Oil is usually quite long. So, if you are planning to attend an event in Virgin Oil, remember to put on enough clothing and be there on time.
Once I got in, there was still one thing standing (or rather performing) between me and Pain: Fear of Domination. Fear of Domination seems to be on the rise (unless I am now jinxing it by saying this aloud). The venues are getting bigger, and following this tour, the band is heading to the Baltics with Amaranthe. Their growing popularity could be seen in Virgin Oil as well, which was packed already when the band started their set. The crowd was obviously there for both of the bands instead of just the headliner.
After starting a fulltime job and feeling about 100 years older, I’ve had a bad habit of sticking to my old favorites instead of looking for new music. My savior has been concerts with opening acts that have allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and out into the scary, real world – bands that I haven’t heard from.
Well, the case isn’t quite as I described when it comes to Fear of Domination, since I had at least heard their name, and even had time to listen to a couple of their songs during a coffee break at work. Some of you might think I am a bad reporter for not doing my background research, but I actually enjoy witnessing an artist with fresh ears and eyes – hearing the songs for the first time as they are performed live gives me a more honest picture of their skill.
Enough excuses though, and back to the gig itself. Fear of Domination was great. Energetic. Surprising. Fun. Refreshing breeze of air. And why’s that? First of all, the two vocalists, Saku Solin and Sara Strömmer, have an excellent chemistry on stage. Actually, I would want to dedicate a few words particularly to Strömmer and her voice. It was such a joy to hear her sing. She has a wide vocal range and can master different styles (growling, clean, and I think everything in between). I obviously am no expert, but listening to someone who hits the right notes, masters different styles, etc., is probably one of the most pleasant things in the world.
To avoid this review being just an open love letter to Sara Strömmer, I feel obliged to say a few words about the whole band. The group was obviously having fun on stage and making the most of the smallish space they had on stage. Also, the crowd were excited and I saw some singing along. So, safe to say I wasn’t the only one enjoying the performance. Only one thing had me puzzled during the gig: what’s the deal with the two drummers?
I have a history of complaining about the sound in Virgin Oil (don’t we all?), but this time I had to take my words back. This was the first time when the upstairs were open as well. As Fear of Domination began their set, I was standing on the floor in front of the stage and cursing the sounds in my head. In order to see better, I climbed to the stair landing – and a whole new world opened before my eyes. Or more like ears.
The sounds were instantly better once I got up, and I could finally make better sense of the melodies and lyrics, something that I hadn’t experienced before in Virgin Oil. So, looks like I should ditch my usual place in the future as well and give the venue some slack.
02. The Last Call
04. El Toro
07. Deus Ex Machina
08. The Bad Touch (Bloodhound Gang cover)
Still euphoric after Fear of Domination I remained in my new favorite spot waiting for Pain to start. It was great to be able to glance over the crowd and get a better feeling for the atmosphere. A cheerful murmur filled the air and as the starting time drew near, the crowd started calling the band to the stage.
Accompanied by the Requiem for a Dream intro, Peter Tägtgren and the rest of the band arrived on time (yay!), and started the gig with “Dancing with the Dead” and “Monkey Business.” The third on the setlist was “Black Knight Satellite” from Coming Home, and I have to confess I was surprised at how well that particular song worked out live, since the album as a whole didn’t quite tick the right boxes for me.
I could keep on listing the songs heard during the gig, but those of you who are interested in that kind of things can scroll down to see them. I was content with the setlist; it had songs from all the albums apart from Pain, and had a great mix of faster and slower songs. In short, it had the diversity I had hoped for.
During the second half of the gig Tägtgren said something noteworthy: he stated that he hadn’t had this much fun for a long time. This really caught my ear since I had been a tad worried that Tägtgren was growing tired of music, since there were 5 years between Coming Home and You Only Live Twice (for me over 3 years between albums is a long time if the artist can otherwise be considered active). And even though I had enjoyed the last show at Nosturi, I remember thinking afterwards that Tägtgren maybe wasn’t giving it his all.
This time around, I can believe that he meant every word – the venue was packed and the crowd truly seemed to enjoy every second of the gig. It was great to see that those who were sitting on the tables on the second floor at the beginning of the gig were standing up as the gig ended. It was just like a big party: people with wide smiles, singing along, some moshing, some jumping. Everyone in the venue just seemed to have a really good time.
And what would Pain’s gig be without their guitarist Greger Andersson climbing somewhere? This time it was in front of us standing on the stair landing, during the last song of the encore, “Shut Your Mouth.” I am not sure what was he standing on, but it looked steady enough for him to keep playing and giving high fives to the audience as the song ended. And maybe luckily for the crowd standing in front of the stage, this time he didn’t decide to jump down as he did back in Nosturi.
After the gig I had plenty of time to digest the experience as I was standing in line for the cloak room for the next 15 minutes or so. I had been pleasantly surprised by Fear of Domination, and combining that with the amazing show Pain had delivered, the only possible conclusion was that the night has been a success in every way. Except for the queueing.
Next time Peter Tägtgren is in Finland will probably be with his other band, Hypocrisy, as they are working on a new album. So this might have been a farewell to Finnish Painheads for now. Lets just hope the next Pain album won’t take 5 years to make.
01. Dancing with the Dead
02. Monkey Business
03. Black Knight Satellite
04. Suicide Machine
05. The Great Pretender
06. Dirty Woman
07. Just Hate Me
08. Zombie Slam
09. Same Old Song
10. Call Me
11. End of the Line
12. Nailed to the Ground
13. Coming Home
14. On and On
15. You Only Live Twice
16. Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles cover)
17. Shut Your Mouth
Photos: Marco Manzi