Photo by John Wins

Two decades of joy, poetry and music – Poets of the Fall live at Tavastia, Helsinki 26.11.

Author John Wins - 30.11.2023

The line outside the legendary Tavastia almost wrapped around the block on a cold Sunday night, and while waiting for the doors to open, you could hear the different foreign languages from all types of fans who traveled for hours to witness Poets of The Fall‘s second sold out show in the capital Helsinki.

Celebrating two decades on the road, the band “started” their show exactly 10 minutes before the scheduled time, when a recorded audio featuring Marko Saaresto‘s voice began to echo through the venue, putting everyone present in the mood, as a kind of mental immersive warm-up, which was a very interesting way to start the show. Among the phrases of the mantra, “are you comfortable?” was the most repeated. From the smiles and excitement of the fans present, the answer was positive.

Photo by Adriana Dobrin

At 19:30 the members began to enter the stage, and from the first moment it was already possible to witness Marko taking control of the stage. With just a smile and a funny gesture he seemed to be at home. The first track of the most recent studio album “Ghostlight” already showed the skills of guitarist Olli Tukiainen, but the sound still didn’t seem to be fully mixed.

During Locking Up the Sun it was also possible to notice some fans dancing and interacting with the charismatic bassist Jani Snellman, always smiling on stage. In Illusion & Dream from their debut “Signs of Life”, it had a beginning with emphasis on the low vocals, which brings some of the melancholic melodies that the group always had in its music, but soon everything turned into a party when the members started having fun on stage.

The sextet also knows how to work its instrumental part very well, from the great work of the duo Olli and Jaska Mäkinen to the man behind the keys, the talented Markus Kaarlonen. Despite being a setlist full of classics, no “Clearview” songs were performed, which is a shame, but listening to Rogue for example is something rare and was very well appreciated. In fact, it is on this track that each instrument manages to show a bit of its skills, which begins with a solo performance from Jani, drawing some hoorays from the fans with the beat of his bass. The 7-string guitars also had inspired solos.

The return of Saaresto in Dreaming Wide Awake also shows that despite being the same setlist as the previous night, the musicians did not appear to be tired, on the contrary, they were full of energy. Despite the considerable amount of international fans, the singer briefly commented that he would speak in Finnish because they were in Finland, but there were no major conversations during the night, so nothing very important was lost by those who do not speak the language of the land of a thousand lakes.

This lineup has been playing together for at least 17 years, so the tightness was very visible (and audible), as in tracks like My Dark Disquiet and Sleep, this one with a beautiful work of Jani and Jaska. The classic War was a masterpiece of a live performance, not only because of Olli’s acoustic guitar, but because it evidences the beauty of its composition and arrangement.

Drummer Jari Salminen also gets his moment in the spotlight during Diamonds for Tears, but soon the green lights put the stage into party mode in another hit, the classic Choice Millionaire, which features an incredible performance of Marko. Up until this point, the show does not have any major speeches, it could’ve been nice to hear a few more words as it is a 20-year-old show, such as small anecdotes about the songs mentioned, but on the other hand, the interaction between the musicians turns the show into a non-stop event. Quite difficult to focus your eyes on just one side of the stage, because of countless jokes, funny faces and a festive atmosphere that makes the whole thing very contagious for everyone, in the best way possible.

The song that put the band on the world music map comes to life on that Sunday night through Tukiainen’s guitar, the one and only Late Goodbye. Hundreds of lights begin to appear among the audience and with their phones in hand, they illuminate the entire Tavastia while singing out loud, adding strong voices to the chorus of “And we keep driving into the night…”. Beautiful and sublime moment to end the setlist… for now.

After a few minutes the band returns for the encore, bringing a special combo during Lift: a “Freddie Mercury” moment with the audience, great drumming solo of Salminen and the whole band having fun while performing. It is also important to mention how they show admiration for each other’s work, whether with a hug or greeting their partner after a technical part.

Photo by Adriana Dobrin

The last chords of the night come with the greatest anthem in the group’s history, the incomparable Carnival of Rust, which ends the show with the certainty that Poets of the Fall not only marked the history of Finnish music, but also has a special chapter in the lives of each of those fans present, who had the chance to be part of this celebratory tour.

At first it may seem “strange” to see a band that really has lots of fun on stage, as there are jokes and laughter between the members, but as the setlist goes on, the six musicians manage to infect the audience with their energy and at the same time perform a setlist that bring nothing but positive messages.

After twenty years, those poets continue to gather thousands and thousands of fans on every new album, every tour, every song, not only for their art, but for being able to transform tears into smiles, whether in records or on stage, where they truly feel at home.

You can listen to Poets of The Fall‘s latest album “Ghostlight” here: