Yesterday evening I attended the 20th Anniversary Concert by Finnish group Värttinä. The band’s website made prime seats available for foreign fans, and I had a smack-centre seat in the sixth row. The group performed two sets; older material from their first 8 albums and then after the intermission, new material from their album iki, which was released a week ago. In the audience was bassist (and former Värttinä bass player) Pekka Lehti, whom I met in Helsinki last year for coffee, and Sari Kaasinen, former Värttinä singer and soloist in her own right. I was so happy finally to meet Sari, and to tell her in person how highly I regard her singing and songwriting. Much to my astonished amazement, Sari remembered that I had sent her an E-mail after I picked up her first solo album, entitled emo, in 1999. I was totally shocked that she remembered. She never replied to it, but she remembered that fan mail from Canada and thanked me in person for it. Every decade or so, music critics pick one or two singers/songwriters and put them on a pedestal as the “leading singer (songwriter)” of the nineties/eighties/20th century”. Bruce Springsteen was awarded this unofficial title in the mid-seventies; Lennon-McCartney in the sixties; who knows–Kurt Cobain in the nineties?– but in my opinion, Sari Kaasinen, and her Finnish male contemporary Kerkko Koskinen, are my choices for the leading singers/songwriters of this new decade. This is certainly a biased opinion as I never listen to new English music anymore.
After the concert, the band invited me and some other fans to a restaurant and I stayed until 2 a.m. Värttinä’s music has brought me such joy over the past 7 years that I have been listening to them; I am not exaggerating when I say that I was close to tears several times during their show. Seeing this group perform live (my third concert) is a rare treat for a non-Finn. And they acknowledged all their foreign fans from the audience. I am proud to say that Mari, one of the singers, mentioned “Kanada” first and when she said it, she stretched out her arms to me! What a surprise–I thought for sure no one on stage could see me, since you so often hear from people on stage that they can only see the people in the first two rows and that’s it.
Today the singers only will be appearing at the music department in Stockmann department store. They will be performing a short a cappella concert. While I am in Stockmann, I will look for Finnish and Swedish Scrabble sets for the couple friends who asked for games. Right now I am at Arto’s office, Saturday morning at 10.30. I will get to Stockmann at 2 p.m. to shop for music and also to get a good spot for the Värttinä appearance.
Faroe Islands airfare: one word: EXPEN$IVE. What a surprise (yeah right, I knew the prices would be through the roof before I left home). I checked the fares on the two web sites of the airlines that fly to the Faroes (Atlantic Airlines and Maersk Air) before I left home. Now I tentatively booked a flight for the 14th of March, and it will cost 815 euros. One euro is roughly the same as one American dollar. I am not going to refrain from going because of the price. I might as well just go home if I am going to chicken out. I am here, so GO. Go and enjoy myself. I am at Arto’s office now, and will call Scandinavian Airlines to see if I can get a cheaper fare from Helsinki to Copenhagen. The figure quoted above is for Finnair from HEL to CPH, then for Maersk Air from CPH to FAE.
More to come after I make my final flight booking. Can you all believe it, I haven’t hit a book store yet. I have had so much to do, going to travel agents and music stores (where I bought the new Värttinä album, iki, and listened to it for all of one day before the concert) and grocery shopping.
Everyone on this list knows that I love to write postcards, and if you gave me your address, my word is as good as gold when I say I will write to you. I will hit the souvenir stores too and buy a stack of cards. I would like to inform you all that I might save some cards, written in Finland, for mailing from the Faroe Islands. I would love to send you something postmarked Tórshavn.
Thanks for reading this far. I haven’t slipped on the ice yet and my face is still in one piece!