The last time I was at The Circus for a gig was in October 2015, when Sweden’s sweetheart, Måns Zelmerlöw, came to Finland. This time around, the music genre and demographic of the audience would be something totally different; the evenings’ three bands, IKINÄ, Eläkeläiset, and headliner Stam1na, would make sure of that.
After finishing the Cube Libre 2016 Tour last December, Stam1na figured that they might as well do another tour in the spring. Friday, the 31st of March, marked the first gig of Stam1na’s Kanslerit 2017 Tour, which would bring the band to fourteen venues across Finland, Germany, and Poland.
Before letting Lemi’s gift to the world loose, Sakara’s newest addition to the roster, IKINÄ, hit the stage. I got acquainted with IKINÄ last September when the band was opening for Mokoma at Tavastia. At that time I was mostly noting their stage appearance, since I wasn’t familiar with the songs. This time around I already knew what was coming and I was ready to enjoy it to the fullest.
Watching IKINÄ perform is like being in a karaoke bar at around 03:00 on a Saturday night, except for the fact that you’re not drunk (or at least I wasn’t), and the singers on stage are hitting the right notes. They have this crazy, no-inhibitions kind of energy, like when you’re just screaming into the mic with your friends, having the time of your life. And if IKINÄ would be performing at a karaoke bar at 03:00, I would be there.
IKINÄ has a good variety of songs, ranging from slightly romantic and more serious, like “Et pelkää”, to just talking about a dreamy guy you’d like to get busy with, such as “Magic Mike.” They’re a nice mix of teenage angst and fear of growing up and finding your place in the world. And… just plain flipping the finger to the rest of the world.
The venue already had a respectful number of people present as IKINÄ played their set. Part of the audience was clearly familiar with the band beforehand, with some of them even singing along with the songs, as the band noted in one of their speeches.
Overall, IKINÄ was even better than I had remembered. There might still be some rough edges when it comes to their live performance, but I personally think all the elements are there… including the pink baseball bat modified into a mic stand. IKINÄ might not be the easiest band to chew, but if they tickle you the right way, you’ll probably end up getting their album and checking them out live again. At least I did.
2. Pelkkää pintaa
4. Puhu minulle
6. Kylmääkin kylmempää
7. Et pelkää
8. Jalat kantaa
9. Magic Mike
In Finland we have this band called Eläkeläiset [Eng: the pensioners], who turn famous pop and rock songs into humppa [Finnish polka music] with their own often inappropriate or humorous lyrics. The band has been around since 1994 and there seems to be no end to it – their next album, Humppa of Finland, will be released on April 21st of this year. The audience at The Circus got to experience the first taste of the new songs… or humppa covers, whatever you want to call them. I’ve seen Eläkeläiset a few times before in festivals like Nummirock and Jurassicrock. Since festival gigs tend to differ quite a bit from venue gigs, I was curious about what the atmosphere would be like in a dark concert hall.
The Circus was getting packed just before Eläkeläiset started. Taking the audience’s enthusiasm as a good sign, I prepared myself mentally for the next 45 minutes or so of trying to recognize what the original song behind each humppa-version might be.
Eläkeläiset started their set with an intro, “Humppa hei” [“Hocus Pocus” by Focus], followed by “Tervetuloa mehtään” [“Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses] and “Perjantaina humpassa” [“Friday I’m in Love” by The Cure]. Apart being a humppa band, they differ from usual bands by doing a speech between every song. At first I found it hilarious, but towards the end it started to bother me, mostly because they didn’t always make that much sense. Or maybe I was too sober for it.
So sadly, I have to say that the band didn’t manage to get me caught up in the feeling that I’ve had on previous occasions with them. The audience looked thrilled, the humppajuna [polka train] kept on going almost from the start of the gig to the end, but personally, I just didn’t feel like humppa that night.
I have to admit, however, that I was happy to hear songs like “Elanto” [“Élain” by Nightwish], “Humppaleka” [“Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis Presley], and one that was probably called “Humppaprinsessa” [“Shine” by Kwan]. Still, it might have been the venue or my personal mood, but this time around, something was missing. Well, Eläkeläiset is going to perform again at Nummirock this summer, so I’m gonna get a new chance to get my humppa mood going soon enough.
1. Humppa hei (intro)
2. Tervetuloa mehtään
3. Perjantaina humpassa
8. Karannut humppa
10. Pätä pätä
11. Humppaa tai kuole
After teenage angst and humppa, it was time for Stam1na to take the stage. The venue was already packed by the time Eläkeläiset had started, and there was, if possible, even less space once the headliner started their set with “Pala palalta”, “Elonjäänyt”, and “Maalla, merellä, ilmassa.”
The Circus as a venue proved to be an excellent choice for Stam1na. Even though the place was almost packed, everyone fit inside nicely. The stage is wide and you can see the band well enough from the sides as well. Maybe I’m getting old, but getting crushed by the moshpit is not on my list of favorite things in the world. This time I could be relatively close to the stage without getting pushed around since there was enough space for a mosphit.
Doing a tour that is not just meant to support the newest album usually means that the setlist holds something special. This was the case with Stam1na at least. Even though Elokuutio did get the most coverage, the band also gave the audience some treats by playing “Yhdeksän tien päät”, which was originally recorded for Raja and published in the Vanhaa paskaa compilation, and “Verisateenkaari”, a bonus track from Elokuutio, which was apparently played live for the first time at The Circus (though feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). Even though the set was missing some of my favorites, like “Lääke” and “Murtumispiste”, we still got to hear “Tuomittu, syyllinen”, “Vapaa maa”, and “Muistipalapelit”, all of which I consider to be old classics.
Stam1na has got to the point where they have such a vast range of excellent songs to pick from, many of which are hits that the fans want to hear over and over again. In such a case, it must be difficult to compile a setlist that would satisfy everyone. But it’s also refreshing as a fan to see a gig that isn’t always following the same pattern as before. So, the absence of “Lääke” is forgiven and forgotten.
As the songs kept going and the band reminded people to vote in the ongoing municipal elections, I caught myself wondering what would be up next for this group. Even though they are singing in Finnish, Stam1na has played abroad more than once and they have some foreign shows coming up during this current tour. Elokuutio is their seventh album, and it looks like it’s not going the be their last.
Putting the future aside, the present looks pretty good. When a gig has two encores, it really says something about both the band and the audience. Stam1na finished of with “Dynamo” and “Kaksi reittiä, yksi suunta” – and came back once more to play “Kuudet raamit”, the first single from Elokuutio and my personal favorite from the album. The band truly drained the last remnants of the audience’s energy with their Friday night show. It might not have been the most legendary show I’ve seen from Stam1na, but all-in-all, it was an energetic, enjoyable, and intense gig.
1. Pala palalta
3. Maalla, merellä, ilmassa
4. Heikko ehkä
5. Tuomittu, syyllinen
6. Pienet vihreät miehet
7. Vapaa maa
9. Yhdeksän tien päät
11. Likainen parketti
12. Ei encorea
15. Kaksi reittiä, yksi suunta
16. Kuudet raamit
Photos: Janne Puronen