Posted on by Oran

The Sunday at Tuska Open Air is always a very relaxed affair with a later start and earlier finish time. So, let’s get stuck into the third and final day of this epic weekend…

Finnish summer is in full swing as we hit our third day without a hint of rain and gallons of refreshment being quaffed to keep the dreaded dehydration at bay. For 2019 the organisers have decided to try out the “Tiny Tuska” concept.

In a nutshell, anyone with a weekend ticket or Sunday ticket is entitled to bring along their kids (under the age of 10) between the hours of 2-5pm.

There’s extra entertainment in the arena and special food stalls dotted about. It’s an incentive to give the kids a taste of what being at a festival is like. Seeing so many families enjoying the atmosphere is brilliant and you can tell that most of them want to be at the marquee for a rather special band that we will get to in a moment.

Before this we are treated to Leverage on the Radio Rock Mainstage. It’s fast paced melodic metal that harkens back to the golden age metal with lashings of power. I recognise one of the guitarists from the long defunct Kiuas (Mikko Salovaara) and he’s lost none of his onstage passion for playing.

Singer Kimmo Blom is the star of the show and his falsetto notes remind me of Graham Bonnet at his peak. They bring out guest violinist, Lotta Pitkänen for ‘Wind Of Morrigan’ and her smile and interaction with Mikko is like two friends having the time of their lives. Leverage finish up with ‘Wolf and the Moon’ and give the early(ish) birds an extremely enjoyable start to the Sabbath.

Moving into the Helsinki marquee you could be mistaken that you are at a creche. There’s fresh fruit and cartoned drink tables set up. There’s small kids EVERYWHERE. They’ve got their faces painted, they’ve got their ear defenders on and you can tell that they are bloody excited to the point of bursting.

Turning around from the photo pit and checking out the crowd makes for one of the coolest sights I’ve ever seen at a festival. All the adults without kids have stepped away from the front of the barrier and let as many of the kids and their parents up the front to see their heroes.

With that the intro track begins to play and Hevisaurus stomp onto the stage. A band of dinosaurs who play Finnish prehistoric rock for kids might sound like the most ridiculous thing in the world but I challenge anyone to check them out live because you will get caught up in the unbridled happiness.

The dreadlocked Herra Hevisaurus sings his giant heart out and Milli Pilli, Komppi Momppi, Riffi Raffi and Muffi Puffi keep the megalithic music machine pumping. Kids are screaming along with the lyrics and every face in the tent is smiling and laughing. I’m glad not all the dinosaurs are extinct.

Frank Carter And the Rattlesnakes admits on the main stage that he’s a little bemused that the Tuska promoters booked his little alternative punk band at a metal festival and from the offset he is pacing the stage looking for his route down into the crowd.

As soon as he clears the barrier, that’s when the Rattlesnakes show truly begins. Finns can be a bit standoff-ish but he opens up a pit and gets the meagre crowd all riled up immediately.

You can tell that this has taken many off guard but word spreads to the rest of the arena and people are beginning to flock to the enigmatic frontman. A few songs in he dedicates a song to the ladies in the audience and instructs all men to step away from the pit. “Ladies, this is a safe zone for you to mosh. Somewhere that you won’t be touched inappropriately or barrelled over by a giant”.

The women of Tuska are extremely vocal in their appreciation and deliver an amazing circle pit while Frank makes his way back to the stage. The new material is almost indie punk but with Carter at the helm and the crowd on his side, today in the sun, he can do no wrong. The inclusion of ‘Juggernaut’ placates those looking for something heavy and a cracking singalong for ‘I Hate You’ ends the show on a high. Frank Carter, you surprised many and Tuska salutes you.

Ukrainian’s Jinjer have exploded on the scene over the last twelve months and expectation is high in the marquee today. They’ve pulled a large crowd and hit stage like horses bolting from the stables.  It’s undeniable that Tatiana Shmailyuk, is the massive draw for this tech-death nu-metal outfit and she delivers a no holds barred frontal assault on the audience. ‘Dreadful Moments’ was far from being one such moment.

While Roman and Eugene throw-down a monumental riff progression, Tatiana windmills relentlessly. They thank the fans for the support and leave many ears ringing and necks sore. I have a feeling this train is gonna keep rolling and will flatten anyone who stops them rising to the top.

There’s a black curtain hiding the main stage as children chanting Elohim! I shall not forgive! Adonai! I shall not forgive! Living God! I shall not the forgive! Jesus Christ! I forgive thee not! flows into the arena from the PA. The curtain drops and the front row of the crowd lose all their facial hair in the blast of pyrotechnics that heralds the arrival of Poland’s true saviours, Behemoth.

Between the bursts of flame, Nergal hangs over the edge of the stage, flipping off photographers, screaming at the fans and riling the audience into a frenzy of energy. If ever a band was on top of their game, it is Behemoth.

Hard word, dedication, and unfaltering self-belief has drawn the masses to their extremity, an extremity that is intelligently accessible beyond the underground. ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ is a roaring lion in the searing heat of the afternoon sun.

Nergal hails the legion and hails Helsinki as “the European capital of heavy metal”. When they play ‘Blow Your Trumpet, Gabriel’, the crowd’s chanting is so loud I honestly believe that the citizens of Helsinki must think there is thunder in the area.

The encore includes a ferocious ‘Lucifer’ that rivals the fires of Hell itself. The blood and fire rituals of a Behemoth performance are in full swing and as the last note sounds, Helsinki is baying for more. On the evidence of today’s show, Behemoth should have been the Sunday headliner at Tuska.

Headlining the Helsinki stage tonight is Pennsylvania’s hellraisers Halestorm.

Tonight is their final show on this European festival run and they leave nothing in the tank. Lzzy Hale spends a sizeable time of the set perched in the “Crane Kick” position while laying down a rollicking racket.

This is made more impressive by the uber-stilettos she has donned for today’s show. Halestorm are all about having a good time, being empowered and supporting each other like family. ‘I Am The Fire’ gets the audience pumped and you can tell that the band are having a blast.

Lzzy gives a shout out to all the ladies and to all those celebrating Pride this weekend. You can tell by the crowd that her star quality has earned the band plenty of new fans today. Arejay makes a cringe-worthy pun about being happy to Finnish the tour in Helsinki, but it’s warmly received and he does apologise as to how bad a pun it is.

Everything about Halestorm is larger than life and that’s what makes it all click into place. They end the show with the brilliant ‘I Miss The Misery’ and leave the hellions of Helsinki rocked to their cores. Pure class.

The Hellacopters are tonight’s main headliner and while a lot of the Finns seem to have gone to the bars at the back and sides or gone home, there is a fair amount who have stuck around to see a rock n roll reunion that came back out of the blue.

Seeing Nicke Andersson and Dregen back trading licks on the stage together is a fantastic sight and while the band may not have the special effects or massive stage show that other headliners use, they do have a passion for music that is evident in their performance.

With it being an 8.30pm start, the entire set is performed in the evening sunshine which adds a lovely relaxed feel to the whole arena. People are dancing, fists are pumping and diehard fans are revelling in the rock. The band push us into a DeLorean and transport us back to a time when music was fun and carefree, without any agendas or bullshit. ‘The Devil Stole The Beat From The Lord’ and ‘By The Grace Of God’ ensure no heads remain un-banged.

There’s a solitary moment of consternation as peak-capped Nicke tells someone in the crowd to stop moshing and hurting people. “We’re here for a rock n roll show, let’s all just have a good time man

They encore with a classic ‘(Gotta Get Some Action) Now!’ Tonight The Hellacopters are thoroughly entertaining and send the Tuska faithful home with catchy choruses stuck in their heads.

All in all, 2019 has been another feather in the cap for Tuska and their entire team. Kiitos Suomi.

Photos – Down The Barrel Photography, exclusively for © 2019.

Steve Dempsey


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