Lacuna Coil, Poisonblack & Gothminister by (18)
Author: Marina Sidyakina
Photographer: Julia Sheremetyeva
The way down to Nosturi, starting at Helsinki's main railway station, looked liked one endless procession to the Adams Family's social function. The tram ride alone was purely goth and black, scaring the old ladies off to take another train and not risking sharing transportation with the city's dark inhabitants, fixing their white makeup and clinging their chains. And the closer you got to Nosturi, the more macabre the creatures around would get, the more of them there would be and the more inspired you would become for the upcoming event. Not an event, sorry, wrong word there: "ball" is more the description - after all, it was the Headbanger's Ball night. The pompous and rough, yet graceful title combines the essence of Finnish finest party mentality: metal, heavy and very rich in audience's appearance. This time it really was so pleasant to look around and observe all the beautiful creatures. Many ladies in black, skirts and corsets, creative hair and fancy makeup - for once Helsinki's dark side showed a bit more aesthetic originality beyond common boring leather pants, metal chains and greasy hair.
Being held on monthly basis, the Headbanger's Ball is mostly known for hosting famous international heavy acts in Helsinki's Nosturi. This time it was double the expectations, since two of the three quests have never played in Finland before. Nonetheless, the concert surprisingly was not sold-out. Selection of bands was also more diverse, each one had their own style and character, although it was a shame to observe how the crowd was interchanging between their favourite artists and leaving as soon as it was done and gone. Anyway, I praise the Finns this time for getting through the event with good behaviour. They supported the bands and showed some movement and enjoyment - there was dancing!!! I must highlight this aspect because I've noticed at concerts I've attended, most Finns don't move around as much.
The Norwegian ministry of goth was delegated to Finland with a debut visit. They took the responsibility to educate and create awareness around its Scandinavian neighbours of what a dark, stylish, energetic and strong band should be about. Starting with the stage setup: speaker's post - any self respecting leader has and knows how to operate one! Then comes the delegation's image: strict suits/uniforms - all the same for each member, all black, all neat and simple at the same time, yet serious - just how it is supposed to be, so you cannot not take it seriously. Use of makeup is efficient, the whole delegation uses the same; pure white faces and black stripes either across or along the face - this makes it very memorable. Speeches are loud, confident, passionate and believable. The beat is strong, consistent and motivating, feet demand movement, head demands banging, spirit demands action and a breakthrough at last. To emphasize each speech, every sentence, almost every word, the Minister had special arrangements for every piece of the set list - voodoo dolls, skulls, chains, crucifixes - but all so stylish, appropriate, not at all offensive, but impressive and well-suited for each message he had to pass across. Technically the set list was not longer than half an hour, but by the volume of given information, it felt much longer and three-dimensional than any other artist that followed. If only world politicians could visit such performances more often to learn about convincing mass-communication methods, their countries' efficiency would have blossomed!
On their behalf, the Norwegian goth delegation was extremely well prepared and surely gave their country another good name.
After Gothminister packed up, the crowd breathed out and relaxed before their very own Finnish representative would take over the headbangers' relay. The opener was so eclectic and deviant, in a way which was very unusual for a Finnish stage manner. Nosturi needed a few moments to fix itself back in order. The girls used the moment to fight for the front rows - one of the classic Finnish metal sweethearts, Ville Laihiala was on the way with his poison… Only after JP's departure from the band, the once so sensual and effective poison dropped its strength to a level of another lovish-metallish-heavish-girlish mesh in the scene. Without a question, the sound had undergone a noticeable change, making Escapextasy unrepeatable history. The performer still remains the idol he has become with his former internationally famous band and a lot of the audience seems to be enjoying this fact a lot more than the essence of his actual band on stage. Tonight Ville was a lot more alive in comparison to the premier show of "Love Stained Despair" two months ago. Still, the vibes this music creates now are not as appealing anymore. My heart remains untouched, I must admit, but it does not mean the music is bad, but for a sensitive listener just music is not enough. Sadly Laihiala does not deliver anything else, just music and you can forget the poison. Ville's guitar solos are flawless, sound arrangements with echoes and other such effects are excellent for a good live show, what unfortunate a show remains - I do not feel the honesty of his lyrics anymore. Ville can be the sex-god of them all, but no way can he ever pull-off what JP managed to convey with "Love Infernal" - in Ville's interpretation (quote: "Amore Infernale") it was just another song, which is now sadly played with reinforced drums, electrifying guitars, almost mute keyboards - it was played faster, not even heavier just faster and as a result, totally ruining all the spirit JP has breathed into this truly pleasantly poisonous song.
It took a whole four albums before Lacuna Coil finally made it across the sea to Finland for the first time. A few weeks beforehand, digi-packs of all their albums were on sale around local music stores, but obviously even that commercial move did not encourage ticket sales. Nosturi was full, but not the fullest, as it was at Amorphis for example, some weeks earlier. Maybe Finland has recently lost faith in metal bands' female leads or something…
Anyway, those present were clearly very excited and were cheering for Lacuna long before their actual set time. The tension was worked up with band's intro - the same as on their "Karmacode". The stage-drop finally opened and revealed the stage with already three members there, wearing the same clothes and white face masks. Very stylish, very wholesome to set the spirit for the concert.
Christina has obviously been preparing hard for the tour, her level of fitness was like that on an American aerobics video from the 90's! Well-defined firm muscles, were showing so seductively through her very tight clothes - there goes the male part of the audience, what a 'big' surprise. Well done Christina! But unfortunately, it wasn't only her body shape that was sporty (obviously major contribution to those Italians' success), but also the singers' outlook was more sporty than metal: worn-out 3/4 leggings on Christina and white knee-high socks. Marco's clothes, on the other hand, were sporty in more rapper-inspired style - pants that were far too baggy for him and a bouncy walk, familiar to us from G-Unit videos on MTV. The audience once again overcame the artist and came dressed a lot more thoughtfully than the band - given that the audience was Finnish, it is a major effort, and sadly, in vain.
During the past year Lacuna has not only advanced on their knowledge of karma and other things spiritual, but also newer stage tricks, such as replacing the old-fashioned support sign of burning lighters during some slower tracks, with an open cell phone - quite an impressive sight and a beautiful one too, like a bunch of lightning bugs were set free - I think it is even more atmospheric than the cliché lighters.
It was not a bad show; it was clearly a well rehearsed, well setup, well learnt program. It started off with the guitarists lining up in the same clothes, moderate light bondage, all very dark and simple. The new album is presented with masks on - white 'faceless' masks are stylish and although a small detail, very effectively conveys the image of the new record. The opening track is very up-beat, but the masked guitarists barely move and it sets a certain tension and much strong spirit - you cannot take your eyes off of them. Christina and Marco are in white, so when the lights are black, you see the two white shirts in the neon glow floating around the stage, when they sing - shining white teeth. Black ties with oriental ornament - new addition to band's merchandise. Later on it was funny to see eager fans buying the ties and asking around for tying them up - Finnish men are not that well familiar with formal dress code!
Lacuna Coil's band image, the uniform outlook and very passionate performance combined made a very strong impression, stylish, elegant, and serious. Very much so. What was not so wholehearted in their show's course is that everyone in the band seemed to know their positions exactly, at which song, which riff, which chorus, who goes where, who headbangs, how and in what alignment, everyone in the same row or some go on the platform - all so synchronic, geometrical and set-up. Once or twice it is effective, but more and it becomes unnatural. I cannot say just how much Lacuna actually enjoyed this one, the particular Helsinki concert or whether they even remember it after sometime. Nothing suggested that this show was any special, although being their first step onto Finnish grounds could have been a surprise to the band as well, seeing a completely different and less temperamental reaction to their very energetic music.
Less old songs, although what they played was definitely pleasant for the ear, but still, could have been some more. Unfortunately no tracks in Italian - this time it is all international and in English. Although this also depends how to look at it: if you came to praise Christina's magnificent voice, her vocal capacity covering heavy riffs just as smoothly as folk or oriental choruses, then at the end it does not matter what she sung, as along as she sung something - simply professional and soulful.
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