keskiviikko 24. helmikuuta 2010

Warmen @ Dante's Highlight

The Scythes Of Bodom Blog packed its thermal underwear and travelled to a face-shreddingly cold Helsinki last week, to attend Warmen's 10th Anniversary show at Dante's Highlight.

Inside the downtown venue there is an air of anticipation for this event, only the third live show of the band's career. But showtime is still a couple of hours away and right now, the only sign that Warmen are in the house is a large banner bearing their name, draped across the front of the stage (apparently it was too big to be used as a backdrop on the small stage and will be lowered when the show starts). Hanging beneath it is a second banner, proclaiming the merits of a well-known Finnish beer. Take a quick glance and you could be forgiven for thinking that the two banners are one and that "Warmen ... sounds like Koff"!

On our way to the bar, we discover that there's some Warmen merch available - well, t-shirts, anyway. Design courtesy of Antti Wirman, the text on the back reveals the band's sense of humour:

Nice to know they don't take themselves too seriously!

Just past midnight, the banner falls and the show gets under way, and it's clear from the get-go that Warmen mean to enjoy themselves tonight, launching straight into the instrumental opening track from the new album, Japanese Hospitality and following up with the first of the evening's guest artists, Timo Kotipelto, who joins the band for Eye of the Storm and Spark. The mood onstage is festive; there's plenty of banter between band members, guest

singers and friends in the audience, and the party atmosphere is heightened when, after another Warmen favourite, Beyond Abilities, Jonna Kosonen appears, clutching a bottle of wine and a glass, to perform three songs ... and so it continues, with instrumental classics from the back catalogue interweaved with more songs from the new album, delivered this time by Pasi Rantanen. And then, from the keyboard, Janne introduces the final guest singer: Alexi Laiho, who, as a finale, reprises his 2008 Spinefeast appearance with Warmen, singing Somebody's Watching Me. The audience loves it, and Alexi looks like he's enjoying himself, too.

The crowd wants an encore, but when the band and guests return to the stage it's to stand in line and take a smiling and somewhat ragged bow. Warmen gigs don't come round very often, but when they do, they're well worth the wait. The band's 10th Anniversary has been duly celebrated; it's been a fun night and we're more than happy to applaud them!

Check out footage of Alexi and Warmen performing Somebody's Watching Me here

Alexi @ FME

It's just a short walk from the metro station to the Cable Factory in Helsinki, the venue for the 2010 Finnish Metal Expo, but in a snowstorm and with the temperature around -20, plus windchill making it feel closer to -30, the distance seems to take on rather more epic proportions. Happily, the temperature inside the cavernous Cable Factory is a great deal more user-friendly. We wander around, checking out the various stands, including Spinefarm Records, ESP Guitars (where we spot two of Alexi Laiho's signature models on display), Levykauppa Äx and the Hellsinki Rock Shop.

On the live stage, the day's performances include sets by Sonata Arctica and Apocalyptica. Later, after sampling a plate of stir fry in the food area, it's time to head over to the Musamaailma stage, where the focus of attention tonight is an interview with Alexi Laiho. The event is eagerly awaited and the room is packed, all the way from the stage to the back ...

After an introduction from Jone Nikula, Alexi appears, stumbling a little as he climbs the stairs leading onto the stage. Hunched on a stool, head down, his trademark peaked cap (this time worn the right way round) casting a shadow over his face, he looks at times a little shy, and even vulnerable as he sits listening to the often protracted and rambling questions being put to him; indeed, at one point he smilingly requests that Nikula repeat the question, and make it shorter, as by the time it had been delivered, Alexi wasn't even sure what he was being asked!

As it is, the themes are fairly familiar, including the band's various cover songs: Alexi humorously describes the reaction of some fans who were mightily pissed off by the choice of a Britney song, and he also mentions the Creedence cover; he reveals too that, even after all these years, he loves touring more and more.

Nikula cites how Bodom's success has meant that, in their home country, they have become a band that cannot be ignored by the media, even though their music can hardly be considered mainstream; to underline the point, he refers to an article in Finland's largest-circulation newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, which reported on one of Bodom's shows on the band's North American tour last year.

Of course, everyone's focus is now very much on the next Bodom album, which the band is currently working on, and Alexi reveals that it's 95% certain that they will again record in Petrax Studios, in Hollola, Finland (their current bestselling album, Blooddrunk, was also recorded there), and that there will be a producer - just who, he's not telling yet!

Many thanks to COB Forum member Celeb for her invaluable help with translation of the questions and answers

FMA hat trick for Alexi

Photo reproduced by kind permission of COB Forum member Celeb, with many thanks

The annual Finnish Metal Awards give the public the chance to vote for the best of Finnish metal. The FMA 2009 gala was held at the Cable Factory on 20th February, as part of the Helsinki Metal Meeting, and for the third time, Alexi Laiho won the "Musician of the Year" category (he previously received the award in 2005 and 2008).

Accepting the award, Alexi commented that he wanted to thank the fans who had voted for him.