TAROT – Tavastia, Helsinki, 07.04.2010

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Tarot is one of those magical bands that you feel like you should have known about but hate to admit that you didn’t… if you’re not a Finn, that is. This would be the original band Marco Hietala [Nightwish] was known for, and after an impressive 4-year absence, are back on the scene with a new album, Gravity of Light. Naturally, they had to tour the album while Nightwish was taking a break, and the tour brought them to Tavastia in Helsinki on April 7th, 2010.

Listen along to the set on Spotify here (minus the cover):

“There’s nothing like spending your Wednesday night listening to ugly men sing about Satan.”
– Phantom

Whether or not you agree with the ugly part, the rest of that statement is nevertheless true! Myself and a small group of friends decided that we couldn’t miss the opportunity to hear some classic Finnish rock/metal on a Wednesday night. There were no openers for this event, so on arrival to the venue, we headed straight upstairs to get a good view. It was the first time I had seen the second level of Tavastia open, so presumably they were expecting a good crowd.

They opened up the show with four new tracks from Gravity of Light: “Sleep in the Dark”, “Satan is Dead”, “Hell Knows”, and “Rise!” We learned quite early on in the night that Marco was a bit sick that night, suffering from a sore throat. In spite of this, he performed surprisingly well. There were a few moments that he was clearly struggling with the long wails, but he managed the challenge in a very professional manner.

 

The second vocalist, Tuple Salmela, was an interesting contrast to Marco, and on the occasions when they were harmonizing, they sounded excellent. Salmela was also on sampler duty, and hopped out at one point to sing “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”, a Blue Öyster Cult cover. After the cover, they continued with the classic “Pyre of Gods” and another new track, “Pilot of All Dreams.”

Then it was time for drummer “Spede” Cinnari to show his stuff with a solo before they continued with a couple more new songs, “Calling Down the Rain” and “Magic and Technology.” “Undead Son” from 2003’s Suffer Our Pleasures and “Bleeding Dust” from 2006’s Crows Fly Black followed before they closed out the main set with “I Walk Forever”, perhaps the most well-known new track due to Marco’s appearance on Kuorosota [Clash of the Choirs].

 

The song selection may have been a bit of a disappointment to those who were hoping to hear their older material, as the set was heavily dominated by new songs (there were only two songs, plus the bonus track, that they didn’t play), and one of my friends was rather mortified that “Warhead” was left out. Personally, not knowing the band all that well myself, the only song I had hoped to hear that I didn’t was “Ashes to the Stars” (though in hindsight, “Warhead” is a great tune).

The stage show was nice overall. They were fun to watch, lively, and the Hietala brothers look like they enjoy being on stage together. The crowd, oddly and interestingly, had a lot of older people who were very thrilled – on occasion perhaps a bit too much so. At one point I found myself rather distracted by a woman table-dancing. Furthermore, I was surprised how dead the crowd seemed at times. The band was trying to get them to shout and, considering how popular these guys are (especially Marco), I was amazed that it seemed to take a bit of effort for them. However, in one of the new songs – “Rise”, if I recall correctly – Marco split the crowds to sing two different parts together and everyone got into it.

The closed out the show with a guitar solo, followed by “Crows Fly Black” and “Traitor” before taking their bows.

 

Ultimately, the show left a pretty good taste in our mouths, and I’d certainly be interested in seeing them again, if for no other reason than to hear Marco singing these songs when his voice is back to normal. And to those of you who fit the description of not knowing this band (particularly those of you who are big into Marco’s voice), you might want to check these guys out.

Setlist:
1. Sleep in the Dark
2. Satan is Dead
3. Hell Knows
4. Rise!
5. Veteran of the Psychic Wars (Blue Öyster Cult cover)
6. Pyre of Gods
7. Pilot of All Dreams
drum solo
8. Calling Down the Rain
9. Magic and Technology
10. Undead Son
11. Bleeding Dust
12. I Walk Forever

Encore:
guitar solo
13. Crows Fly Black
14. Traitor
Outro – Schwabadaba Ding Dong

Photos: Jana Blomqvist

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