Tavastia, Helsinki, Finland
17h October 2020
The 69 Eyes – West End Tour 2020
“Hell Yeah!”, that’s what I thought when I left Tavastia on Saturday night after the show. A feeling that I had been missing for quite a long time, since January 24th, to be precise. That night I left Knitting Factory Brooklyn, after the HELSINKI VAMPIRES sold-out show in New York…
THE 69 EYES started in 1989 as a Sleaze band in Helsinki and over the years developed their very own style the Goth’n’Roll. The band is also known as “The Helsinki Vampires’ among their fans and came over to Germany for the first time in 1998. Things kicked off during the early 2000’s when they went on tour with PARADISE LOST and won over more and more fans. The 69 Eyes constantly toured during all these years not only in Europe but also in Australia, Japan, Russia in the USA establishing a big and very dedicated fanbase. Celebrating the bands 30th anniversary in 2019 they released their new album ‘West End’ and went on a mostly sold out tour in Europe and the USA. www.69eyes.com / www.facebook.com/the69eyes
Music & Performance
Let’s talk the elephant in the room first, so you might get an impression how Tavastia worked a miracle and organized a show that would be safe for the fans and the band during a pandemic that sees a rising number of infections every week. Before you could enter the venue, you had to generate a QR-code providing all your contact data, so that the venue had the data of everyone who attended the show, just in case the authorities would demand them. Signs reminded you to keep your distance and hand sanitizer was provided everywhere. There were plenty of seats provided upstairs and downstairs and the places for standing were divided into rows that allowed a maximum of 12 people in one row, barrier tapes made sure, that there was space between them. Wearing a mask was highly recommended and they were sold at the bar and at the merch for those willing to wear them, if they didn’t bring their own. Before the show started, an announcement in Finnish and in English reminded us of the recommendations and the safety rules.
The fans started cheering immediately when THE 69 EYES came on stage and started the gig, the would become of the most energetic one ever with ‘Two Horns Up’. The song from the new ‘West End’ album is the perfect opener and you could see many raised hands in the audience and the crowd immediately heated up. ‘Never Say Die’ followed suit and saw even more raised hands during the chorus part. I hadn’t checked out the setlist of the previous shows, but from experience I believed, that now a slower song would follow, so the audience could catch some breath and make ready for the next firework of powerful songs. But this time, I was mistaken and THE 69 EYES played a song I hadn’t heard live since their “Back From The Grave” US-tour in 2019, it was ‘Don’t Turn Your Back On Fear’ a song from their legendary album ‘Paris Kills’ and a Halloween classic among their fans. A perfect choice for this season and the audience new the lyrics by heart.
Now it was time to catch some breath during the rather Goth Rock prone ‘Black Orchid’ a song, that often reminds me of THE SISTERS OF MERCY somehow. And it’s one of the songs vocalist Jyrki proves that he knows how to underline the lyrics and the mood with gestures and interaction with the people in the front rows. Then a song that we rarely heard live during the last four or so years but that suited the current situation perfectly and that was underlined by beautiful violet light got us all in a clam but hopeful mood. We are talking ‘Sister Of Charity’, that saw it’s live debut in Tavastia in December 2004. Over the years, the live arrangement changed a bit and I have to admit that the current one is the one I like best. And though there were quite many young faces in the audience, they knew the lyrics and many in the audience were quite moved by this song and readily joined the chorus. For me it was one of the highlights of this night and I hope the song will be on future setlists once in a while.
The next song on the setlist promised a good ride through this October night in Helsinki. ‘Cheyenna’ was released in 2019 and came with a really cool video. The chorus part is quite intriguing and so the audience once more had the chance to take an active part in the show. What followed suit was a big and welcome surprise for me ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’ took me back to the US-Tour of 2019, where I heard it live again after a break of three years. The song was originally released in 1997 on the same titled album, but rerecorded as a bonus track for the album ‘Angels’. You might want to check out the lyrics of the song and draw some energy and hope from them. I must say, that I prefer the original version, with all the cowbells for it shows the harder and more glam prone early days of the band.
And Jyrki proved, he still is able to deliver these hard and aggressive vocals, tough he improved and developed his voice enormously since the song was recorded. To be honest, I was really stunned by this version of the song and so was the crowd as the very loud cheering indicated. ‘Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams’ is also one of the songs, where you can see Jussi69 drumming like hell and it’s no wonder that once in a while you see a broken drumstick flying away and fresh one comes flying out of the blue. I think the last time I saw it happen quite often was the LOCAL BANDS show in 2019 and tonight Jussi69 seemed to be more cheerful and energetic than ever. What I really like throughout the show was, that Archie and Bazie sometimes changed sides on stage so the fans on both sides of the stage had the chance to see them.
‘Wasting The Dawn’ indicated that we were halfway through the show now (it’s been like this for quite a while now) and so it was time to catch some breath and get ready for the finale furioso. This very Goth song is an all-time classic and marked the bands change from Glam to Goth and the video that came with it, is still fantastic. What was really remarkable here was, Bazie’s second solo part, that I hadn’t heard in this version for a really long time and the rather long outro of the song. ‘27 & Done’ was the perfect intro for the second half of the night and the crowd was more than ready to rock, tough in the current situation it made me swallow hard to hear people sing “Let’s all die young…” so I stick to the line “The best ones always party together.” Performing exactly this line of the vocals, Jyrki gestured at the crowd and showed us the Two Horns with his hand, that were reflected by the crowd immediately. This is what I call a perfect moment during the show and whenever it was time for “Hey...” the crowd at Tavastia already had their fists in the air.
‘The Chair’, another of the bands Goth classics, took us back to the old days but the extreme pink light made it hard to see Bazie and Jyrki during the performance. That only changed, when the bridge part starts and Jussi stands behind the drums and Timo-Timo stands directly in front of the audience interacting with them, but as soon as the song neared the end, the bright pink spots were back. Afterwards one of my personal highlights of every show was indicated by the intro coming from the sound system. ‘Feel Berlin’ always cheers me up and as a German I’m sometimes a bit astonished that people from all over the world, especially from such fantastic cities like New York or L.A. love it, too. Though Jyrki admitted during their last tour at the gig in Vienna, that it was mostly written in Vienna, he really succeeded to transfer the 2000’s Berlin vibe into lyrics and the sound that underlines them is custom made and no more words are needed.
What I loved most about the performance of this song, was the little break halfway through the song, where Jussi69 usually stands behind his drums. This time he formed a heart with his hands and you could see a big smile on his face. It was obvious, that he enjoyed what he saw and heard as much as the whole audience did and somehow it seemed that there was even more energy in the crowd now as people danced wilder and more and more hands were in the air. Halloween was only 14 days from the show (Yes, I had hoped for the Halloween decoration…) and so Jyrki wished us all “Happy Halloween” before we saw an amazing performance of this all-time fan favourite. “It can’t rain all the time…” is something we all should remember at the moment.
The band left the stage and the crowded demanded them back immediately. When I looked around, I saw happy and excited faces and I was sure, that the encore would be a blast. When the band came back on stage, Jussi69 took the micro and surprised me a good deal, because usually Jyrki addresses the audience before the encore. Big Thanks to the people standing next to me, who were so kind and explained what he said, so we all celebrated Tavastia and its anniversary. Now the bands tech did his duty in times like these and sprayed sanitizer on the micro and caused one of the biggest laughter in the venue I ever heard so far. Well done!
Red lights indicated that it was time for ‘Framed In Blood’ and now THE 69 EYES drove the crowd even wilder while going wild on stage themselves. Bazie and Archie changed their standing positions on stage and so the fans could rock with both of them. Then Jyrki asked us to dance with him through the night to the sound of ‘Dance D’Amour’ and Helsinki danced while Jussi69 obviously enjoyed the fact that he had a complete drumkit and plenty of cymbals available and so the music was very close to the arrangement you hear on the album version. The lights at the beginning of the song somehow didn’t fit the mood of the song but that was changed quickly after a few chords to a rather very dark blue that made it difficult to see the band on stage and Jyrki was partly invisible.
Then it was time for the most important question of every single gig of THE 69 EYES: “You wanna rock?” Of course, the Helsinki crowd wanted, and so the band and the fans in the venue rocked as hard and as wild as the current safety measurements made it possible. It’s hard to say, who had more fun, THE 69 EYES who played in their home cave or their fans who saw them live on stage. Jyrki left the stage quite fast after ‘The Lost Boys’ lyrics part ended, but Bazie, Archie and Timo-Timo played a fantastic outro, Jussi contributed fantastic drums to it and the stroboscopic lights illuminated the whole venue with a firework of lightning.
When the outro ended, the guys remained for a while, giving picks to the fans or in case of Jussi throwing drumsticks. THE 69 EYES seemed to have had the goal to give as much energy and hope to the fans as they could and the songs that were on the setlist were absolutely to the purpose. I won’t forget this special show for a while and I really hope we will see the HELSINKI VAMPIRES on tour in Germany next year. A few words on the lightshow, the pink light sometimes was a bit too much and since Jyrki stood rather in the back of the stage quite often or directly under a superbright spot, it was quite hard to capture him on pictures. Last but not least, my big thanks go to Anne and Markus at Nuclear Blast, Tiina at Redberg Agency, Nora at Liekki Promotion and our editor in chief Dani Vorndran for making things possible
01. Two Horns Up
02. Never Say Die
03. Don’t Turn Your Back On Fear
04. Black Orchid
05. Sister Of Charity
07. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
08. Wasting The Dawn
09. 27 & Done
10. The Chair
11. Feel Berlin
12. Brandon Lee
13. Framed In Blood
14. Dance D’Amour
15. Lost Boys
Total: 9 / 10
All Pictures by Munich Vampire