Yesterday I attended the concert by Scandinavian Music Group at the famous Tavastia Klubi in Helsinki. This club is famous all over Finland and was the Holy Grail for the fictional Joensuu band Kalle Päätalo in the movie “Pitkä kuuma kesä” (which I saw when I was in Finland three years ago). It’s a riot of a film and I bought it on video during that summer.
I arrived at the club early and met drummer Antti Lehtinen inside. For a foreign fan such as myself, who does not have the opportunity either to buy the band’s music in Canadian stores or to see them perform in concert on Canadian soil, I was thrilled to pieces to meet him and say Hi. We had a long chat about the music of SMG, as well as the music of Antti’s former band Ultra Bra and his other band, Don Huonot (which has got to take the prize for best Finnish band name ever–ask me later why I think so cuz I will need to give you a short lesson in FIN 101).
Before the club opened to the stage area, SMG guitarist Joel Melasniemi participated in a music trivia quiz. Joel told me in an E-mail that their concert was going to be broadcast live over the radio but I am unaware if the trivia quiz was also aired.
Singer Aleksi Ojala opened with seven songs. I acquainted myself with his music by playing his single at Stockmann the day before. Does Aleksi have an album out or just a single (or two)?
Scandinavian Music Group took the stage at 23.32 and the following is their set:
Ei mulle riitä
Ei mun oo hyvä olla yksin
Minne katosi päivät
Kun tuuli oli viilee
e1 Kun puut tekee seittiä
e2 The final hidden track on the Onnelliset kohtaa album — help the Canadian here — is the title Jos
I had grabbed a spot directly in front of lead vocalist Terhi Kokkonen, and took many photos both during and after the show. When I get the film developed (no digital camera for me yet) I will post them to the Finnish-Music Yahoo Group, as well as my own UltraBra Yahoo Group.
The concert was filmed, and I was proud to be wearing my Canada T-shirt that night. It does not matter that Finnish is not my native language; the language of music is universal, and I would be thrilled if I was captured on film lip-synching to their songs. SMG’s music crosses boundaries and brings us all together as instant friends. This is exactly how I feel about the Scrabble community: if I know you are a player, you are an immediate friend to me. My two loves of life are indeed Scrabble and Fennica.
The second encore song ended at 00.39, and it was no time at all for the band to come out and mingle with fans and friends. I spotted in the crowd Tommi Saarikivi, the bass player who only recently left SMG; Olli Virtaperko, vocalist with Ultra Bra and baroque cellist composing with Ensemble Ambrosius (whose two albums I bought while I am here); and Arto Talme, vocalist with Ultra Bra.
I regard 2002 as my Ultra Bra year. Why? It was in January of last year that I finally bought an Ultra Bra album, the two-disc collection of greatest hits, B-sides, rare and unreleased tracks Sinä päivänä kun synnyin. I remember during my first visit to Finland in 1999, Ultra Bra was everywhere. The album Kalifornia was out, yet I did not bother to give the band a chance. I regret to say that I felt the same way, even during the summer of 2000 when I lived in Helsinki.
When I returned for my third trip to Finland in January 2002, UB’s double-disc collection had recently been released and I decided only then to give them a chance.
And I could only kick myself for letting this group slip by for so long. I listened to practically nothing else in 2002, as I also acquired all four of Ultra Bra’s prior albums and learned all the songs. I even picked up their video compilation of seven music videos and live concert. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that I play that tape constantly.
I chatted with Joel, Tommi, Arto and Olli until it was time for the club to close. Joel was so kind to bring me SMG’s new single, “Letitä tukkani”, before its scheduled release in stores on 21.3. Kiitos paljon sinkusta, Joel! Olli told me that the group was heading out to a bar afterwards, Lost and Found, and I was welcome to come along.
Olli is a year-round cyclist and although he biked to Tavastia, he was kind enough to walk it down Annankatu while we walked to the bar. Inside was a Who’s Who of Finnish music. During my last trip to Finland, the song and video “Kuutamolla (se ei mee pois)” were playing everywhere, and who did I spot inside the club but that song’s singer, Laura Närhi (thanks to Olli for guiding my glance in her direction). Joel was kind enough to introduce me to her, asking her if she knew if she had any fans from Canada. To which, Laura replied No, and then met me. I was also happy to meet Teppo Martinsuo, lead singer in the band Sadetanssi. Unfortunately Sadetanssi’s first album, Laihoilla hartioilla will be released only five days after I leave Finland for Canada 🙁
The club closed at 04.00, and I said my goodbyes and walked home. I took my time, taking nighttime photos of Helsinki along the way.
When I got up this morning (bright and early on a sunny day at 10.30) I packed for my trip tomorrow to the Faroe Islands. As I was doing so I assessed my general packing situation; fortunately, I have more than enough room to pack everything I have purchased so far. This includes four especially bulky, but lightweight, boxes that I am extremely happy to bring home as requested favours for some friends of mine.
Note to my friend Arto: I have to get out of the apartment at 04.30 tomorrow, in time to get the first bus, at 05.00, to the airport. The bus will arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport half an hour later and the first leg of my journey, Helsinki-Copenhagen, has a 07.00 departure time. I hope to come home with stacks of Faroese music CDs and books.
I will attempt to post travel reports whenever possible from the Faroe Islands, however I will not have the luxury of unlimited time either at Arto’s office or at the University of Helsinki’s Language Centre. So my mails might be short and un-proofread. Just bear that in mind 🙂 When I am in the Faroese capital, Tórshavn, I hope to send my first mail from the National Library of the Faroe Islands. Visit the English pages. I wrote them!
Now I am off to find the album Being by Wigwam, an album Olli Virtaperko highly recommended to me.
Thanks Joel, Antti, Terhi, Olli, Tommi and Arto. When I put on my headphones and listen to SMG and UB, and
break out smiling while singing along, I have you to thank for bringing me such happiness.
Teidän suurin faninne Kanadasta