AMORPHIS - Come From The Land Of Ice & Snow
March 14, 2017, 6 months ago
Within 36 hours of playing Underground Arts, the region experienced the only significant wallop of snow (all winter). Coincidence? A far cry from the pair of sun drenched Amorphis gigs witnessed aboard the 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise, just a month earlier. Actually my history with the Finns goes back to the fall of '95, when I got to see the (then) youngsters perform nightly, as the opening band for Paradise Lost, throughout Europe.
Know Finland doesn't have great beer (prefer harder alcohol), but drinking Bud Light onstage? Guess bottled water was in short supply. No shortage of fog though. Right from the intro, the stage was covered in a thick vapor. Appropriate for an "Under The Red Cloud" opener, which sees Tomi Joutsen (he of the three handled mic) with hair draped over his face. Convulsing, herky-jerky across the stage, or pin-wheeling hair, he's the focal point of an otherwise static line-up. In his own musical trance, bearded guitarist/mainman Esa Holopainen (looking like a young Michael Schenker) is content to squeeze out the riffs, occasionally cracking a smile and even rarer, acknowledge there's an audience present.
"Sampo" is copper lit, with white lights alternating across the backline. "Silver Bride" sees a return of Joutsen's death metal voice, which heretofore has been absent. "Hopeless Days" is green lit to begin, but "Skyforger" is where the singer's star quality shines through (the pink lights and copious fog). Aptly red lit, "Bad Blood" has Joutsen double-handed "driving" the mic, gripped like the handlebars of Harley, straight to Hell. The resulting fan response is huge, even though it's not one of the night's brightest gems!
One of those would be "The Smoke", introduced on a stage bathed in blue. Eventually, the crowd clues in and begins to clap along. The lighting opts for pinks and blues, as the second verse sees bassist Niclas Etelävuori add backing vocals. Complete darkness greets "Into Hiding" (get it?), Joutsen again propelling his stringy black mane 360 degrees. Tomi Koivusaari was once the singer, in the earliest incarnation. Now subjugated to hanging in the shadows, as second guitarist, he's completely happy with that role: a totally Finnish personality trait!
Standing four across the stage, it's a no frills, old school metal moment, aka "On Rich And Poor", which also marks the first time Koivusaari ventures to Holopanien's side of the stage. Just the first few notes of "My Kantele" elicit an audience roar (the oldies at a premium tonight), under green/blue lights. Speaking of major responses, same happened after "House Of Sleep", which closed the proper set, perhaps the catchiest melody they've written during Joutsen's tenure. Returning to the stage with the pre-recorded intro to newbie "Death Of A King" (certainly not encore worthy, in light of the obvious old school omissions), before sending the crowd home happy, with "Black Winter Day". There are bigger and more boisterous outfits, but few are as consistent (especially into their third decade), onstage and in the studio, as Amorphis. Kippis!