Poets of the Fall have been around since 2003, and even though they’ve been releasing albums fairly regularly (the last being Jealous Gods in 2014), when mentioning their name, the usual response was, “Oh, are they still around? I thought they haven’t put out an album in 5 years or so.” An odd reaction, considering they haven’t had a break of more than 2 years in their release schedule since their first album came out in 2005, wouldn’t you say? With the release of Clearview on the very same day, we headed down to Live Nation‘s Black Box at Jäähalli on September 30th, 2016, to check out what the album release show had to offer.
Full gallery HERE!
I confess that I actually had never heard of this band before we started upgrading the site back in the spring, at which point I came across a gallery of them at Tavastia in 2010 and an interview with Marko Saaresto around the time of the release of Twilight Theater (2010). Though we were both quite tired from the previous day’s events with Nightwish, Jana [photos] had mentioned how much she liked these guys, so I was happy to accompany her to check out the gig.
I arrived at Jäähalli just in time to catch the melodic instrumental opening track from the entrance, and made my way into the black box in time to hear “Drama for Life” as the opening track. Before I get into that, I’ll quickly mention how much I like the chess knight design they have for Clearview – it’s simple but looks cool and the banners featuring it set a nice stage for the night. There was a quite decent-sized crowd, with people of all ages and walks of life present and immediately, the sound quality and lighting were fantastic. I’m not sure how many people the black box can host, but it seems like a perfect step up from The Circus size-wise and I wish it wasn’t (I presume) exclusive to Live Nation shows, as I can think of a few non-LN bands who would benefit from a better quality venue than Kaapelitehdas or a bigger venue than The Circus (Bring Me the Horizon, Within Temptation, and Manowar to name a few).
The band, visually, was not quite what I was expecting – bassist Jani Snellman had a mowhawk and Marko Saaresto on vocals had a rather unusal punk/metal tailcoat, with spiky studs and whatnot. On listening to the music, I decided that Saaresto’s coat was a tad extravagant – it looked a little bit hardcore against the music they were playing. I had been expecting rather casual-preppy guys on stage, after all. Though I suppose I should say that Jari Salminen (drums) was the true visual wild card, with his long hair, stylish thick glasses, and white collared shirt with a tie.
As for the show, the band played very nicely. I was pleased to see a tight performance on all fronts, with just the right amount of energy – they weren’t pushing it too hard and being overly enthusiastic (which would have distracted from their music), nor were they total slugs on stage. They had a decent amount of movement and interaction with one another, and I was amused to see Salminen constantly and enthusiastically tossing his head to the side – was it because his hair was in his face or was it just how he moves to the beat, I wonder? Saaresto is still able to hit the high notes in songs like “Daze” – he has to focus and keep good control to pull them off, so they’re not as carefree as his regular vocals, but it’s nevertheless impressive that he can still rock such high notes. As well, the band was very smiley and comfortable on stage. I’m not sure when their last gigs were, but it seemed as though they were happy to be performing again.
Saaresto wasn’t much for chitchat or speeches between songs, though they did take a break about mid-way through the show so he could take off his coat and talk a bit about the new album and how it was a thrill to be playing their first headlining show at Jäähalli. I was actually quite surprised to hear him announce a few of the song names in English throughout the night as well – it seems as though they expected a few of the people in the crowd to be non-Finns and were helping to make them feel included. It’s a small thing, but I know many people appreciate it (especially considering what a tricky language Finnish is to learn). Of course, Saaresto also humbly thanked the audience for being there and making it happen.
There was a short two-song acoustic set in the middle – a common feature in gigs these days, but nevertheless a nice addition to break things up. Even though I didn’t know any of the songs, I can name a few personal favorites from the night, like “Dreaming Wide Awake”, the two big hits, “Carnival of Rust” and “War”, as well as the new track, “Once Upon a Playground Rainy”, even if the former felt like it turned into “Sweet Home Alabama” right before the end.
I was actually quite surprised to learn that the show was over when “Carnival of Rust” played and the band left the stage – it was only 22:05! For having played thirteen songs, the set was very short. They of course played a few songs in the encore – “War”, “Lift”, and “Children of the Sun” (with Saaresto in a hat, because why not?), but as a whole I was really happy about this. I’m used to hearing fewer or the same number of songs from metal bands in an hour-and-a-half or longer slot, plus encore… well, on a busy night, it was great to hear a good selection of tunes and feel so satisfied without it taking all night long and getting totally exhausted by the end.
So, Poets of the Fall may get a great deal of scoffing from fans of heavier music, but that really just comes down to a matter of taste. When it comes to their live performance, they are no slouches. Being completely unfamiliar with their music, I found myself happy to move to the music, and the whole package – sound, lights, song selection – was quite satisfying, and the new songs seemed at home with the rest of the material as well.
If you’re thinking of hitting up one of the shows on the Clearview Tour this year, you probably won’t leave disappointed. At least Jana said that of the seven or so times she’s seen them, this was by far the best performance. Whether this is a guilty pleasure for you, or just a straight up, unashamed pleasure, chances are this tour will live up to your expectations!
1. Drama for Life
3. The Child in Me (live debut)
4. Dreaming Wide Awake
5. Diamonds for Tears
6. The Game (live debut)
8. Someone Special
10. Running Out of Time
11. Once Upon a Playground Rainy (live debut)
12. Locking Up the Sun
13. Carnival of Rust
16. Children of the Sun (live debut)
Photos: Jana Blomqvist