Sunday 26th March @ The Cube, Bristol
Kiila unfortunately were laid off on the night due to illness and we were given one man and his guitar. I think it was somebody called Ville Leinonen (I guess the pic on the fonal website looks like him)- and boy this person could play - muscular, his fingers were all over his instrument. All monotonous strumming nightmares were dispelled as he swayed passionately imparting his tales of love, nature and arguing. Of course I didn't understand a word - but narration was not bound to words alone, it was more his vocal style and quirky mannerisms that were speaking volumes. The tale of tour drudgery in England was funny, this little island's probably a bit dull in comparison to the untamed wilds of Finland. The semi traditional song to the mothers of Lapland was heartfelt - his vocals mimicked the Nazi war machines scarring the countryside and burning its occupants - an alternative Mother Day anthem maybe!!
Islaja was a bit nervous for some reason, starting her set from behind the speakers with a little piano / bell backing - finally gracing the stage with those spellbinding vocals I've be loving over the years. Later she was joined by a second guitarist as she strapped on hers. Her voice was her main vehicle, which needed only the lightest of accompaniment - a simple plucking of an effects saturated guitar sometimes bowed or the slight tinkering with some tiny percussive toys sufficed. The other guitarist’s melodic strings trickled through all this, his voice, a deep contrast to her sumptuous chiffon-like breaths. It must have been difficult to replicate the studio based lavishness of her second album and on the night mistakes in translating it were made. Thankfully these quickly dissolved, even if a nagging cough was getting the better of her towards the end.
The last track employed a Finnish version of the Duracell bunny as percussionist, a lush bass sound created a wall of fuzz to Islaja's shakers and toy flute piano - and a heavier sound ensued, a lovely raucous version of Palaa Aurinkoon, sinewy and empowered.
Es’ set was visually dull - with Ville Leinonen and Sami crouched and hovering over a large collection of floor bound boxes. Hands were suspended like vultures beaks twisting the equipment back and forth brewing a heady evolution of real-time loops from fragments of keyboards, vocals and other collected debris. Closing my eyes the sound seemed to suck me in - finding myself swaying automaton-like with the current, time sort of stood still or became insignificant as the music unfurled organically. I recognised a few live versions from both his recent releases, both were more vivid, and I was very surprised how effortless it all seemed.
The last track was a noisy affair - seemingly an exorcism, with Sami slamming his effect petals and yelling loudly, guess three gigs into the tour things were beginning to show signs of strain. When the whole thing was finally terminated at the flick of a switch, I was still revelling in the experience.