2017 is well on it’s way, but for my part, the 4th of February marked the beginning of concert season. Kicking it off with Royal Republic’s Weekend Man Tour felt only suitable since I wanted to hear some uplifting tunes to survive the winter months. The band was accompanied by Finland’s Blind Channel for their three gigs in Finland. As snow was covering Helsinki once more, I arrived at Nosturi in order to spoil myself with a bit of Swedish garage rock.
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Before the Swedes took the stage, it was only suitable that the younger guys from Blind Channel first showed what they had up their sleeves. Some of us at Musicalypse have grown quite fond of Blind Channel during the past 12 months. However, it was my first time seeing this band live, but I had high hopes due to the aforementioned hype among my colleagues.
The “#violentpoprevolution” text written on Blind Channel’s smaller backdrops caught my eye almost immediately as I took my place in front of the stage. I shook off the image of Lady Gaga with an axe (because what else could violent pop be?) and took a glance at the audience.
Over the past few years, it has bothered me that the younger generation has seemed to have disappeared from gigs, or at least from the ones I’m attending. Therefore, I was more than glad to notice that the majority of the audience that had came to see Blind Channel were (or at least looked) 20 or under.
Blind Channel released their debut album, Revolutions, last October. For my part, I did not give the album the attention it would’ve deserved. Thus I had only vague memories of their songs as the band began their 45 minute set. The guys started with “My Revolution”, which proved to be an excellent choice for an opener. This was followed by “Hold on to Hopeless” and “Bullet (With Your Name on It)”, and I was already convinced that the hype was deserved.
In a way, Blind Channel takes me back to the days when I was 13-14 years old and listened to bands like Linkin Park, Papa Roach, and the sort. The similar energy and sounds can be heard in the band’s material, but more in the sense of pure influence, as opposed to copying what others have already done. The arrangements in the songs just work. There’s “Pitfall” that’s straight from the radio’s playlist – and suddenly they give you “Deja FU” with rapping. I rarely get confused during concerts but that was one such moment.
If there’s something negative about the gig, it was the mixing which seemed to be a bit off from time to time. The bassline was so loud that you couldn’t always here the lyrics or guitars. Also, the excessive use of strobe lights literally caught my eye. Otherwise, Blind Channel delivered an excellent show which foreshadows an even better future for the guys, as long as they keep on working hard – and I’m sure they will. I also have to give an honorable mention to those 5 eager female fans on the front row who were pretty much screaming their lungs out as Blind Channel came to the stage. Fans like you are always needed.
While Blind Channel ended their set with ”Darker than Black”, the venue was already nicely packed with the crowd waiting for the main act of the evening. The band had their breakthrough in Finland when they released ”Everybody Wants to be an Astronaut” in 2012, which was later released on the band’s second album, Save the Nation. It took me 5 years to finally see the band since they seem to have avoided Finland – except of course when I was spending 6 months in Stockholm, when they finally toured here. I managed to see them finally in Jurassic Rock in 2016, but did not quite get the feeling I wanted (the pouring rain might have had something to do with it). So needless to say, I had great expectations for the evening.
Royal Republic started their set with “When I See You Dance with Another” and “Walk!”, both of which are from their newest album, Weekend Man (2016). Now it’s time for a confession – I was not that into the latest album. I gave it a chance, a second and even a third, and did like some of the songs, like “Baby” and “Here I Come (There You Go)”, but nevertheless, the entity still left me a bit cold. Getting a proper chance to hear newer material live, I have to take back my words. The new songs worked great live, and I was only bothered by the fact that I didn’t know the lyrics. So next time I’ll see Royal Republic, I’ll know them all. That’s a promise.
Luckily I got to hear the older favorites of mine, like “Strangers Friends Lovers Strangers” and “Addictive” (which was played acoustically). Naturally, the band played also “Everybody Wants to Be an Astronaut”, which awoke the audience into a mighty-sounding singalong.
What I like about Royal Republic, is their energy and the overall feeling they manage to deliver via their albums. And that magic is even stronger live. From the very first song, the band took hold of their audience, entertained us, and gave us a nice range of their hits from all three of their albums (or four to be precise, if you count the acoustic Royal Republic and the Nosebreakers).
Talking about entertainment, it’s not often you hear the band talk about gay fanfiction that some fan has written about them. Nor hear what a Finnish (male) orgasm sounds like. Needless to say, when the band’s vocalist, Adam Grahn, said he is a professional entertainer, there’s nothing left to argue about. Besides, what would a gig be without some special occasions? The band’s bass player, Jonas Almén, happened to be having his birthday on the 4th, so the crowd sang ”Happy Birthday” to him in both English and Finnish. And in addition to the birthday celebrations, one lucky member of the audience was invited onto the stage to join the band in “Tommy-Gun”. You can check her guitar playing skills from Instagram.
Even though the same sound problem that bothered me during Blind Channel also prevailed during Royal Republic’s set, it was a minor fault in an otherwise perfect evening. The band ended the evening with a “Battery/Ace of Spades/Sweet Home Alabama” -medley and pumped out the last bit of energy the audience had left with “Full Steam Spacemachine”. After ending their gig, the band promised to come back soon to Finland. Or that’s at least what I wanted to hear, so hopefully I don’t have to wait another 5 years before seeing Royal Republic again.
Blind Channel’s setlist:
1. My Revolution
2. Hold on to Hopeless
3. Bullet (With Your Name on It)
6. Deja FU
7. Enemy for Me
8. Don’t (Ed Sheeran cover)
9. Darker Than Black
Royal Republic’s setlist:
1. When I see You Dance with Another
3. Make Love Not War (If You Have to Make War – Make Sure to Make Time to Make Love in Between)
4. Strangers Friends Lovers Strangers
7. Everybody Wants to Be an Astronaut
8. Any Given Sunday
9. Peope Say That I’m Over the Top
10. Addictive (acoustic)
11. Kung Fu Lovin’
14. Here I Come (There You Go)
15. Follow the Sun
16. Getting Along
17. Battery/Ace of Spades/Sweet Home Alabama
18. Full Steam Spacemachine
Photos: Janne Puronen