Korpiklaani

support Heidra
author AP date 28/09/15 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Almost three weeks had passed since this scribe last attended a concert, and with the Fall season now setting in, the time had come to warm up the writing muscles for another busy period of concerts coming up. And what better way to kick it off than with a helping of festive folk metal, courtesy of the always entertaining Korpiklaani out of my native Finland. The self styled clan are touring in support of their latest album "Noita", which wooed me with its quirky and creative, olde Finnish lyricism wrapped around ultra-catchy instrumentation - a style impeccably suited for the live setting, I had hoped. First however, it was up to local metallers Heidra to rouse the audience - more about that below:

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

Heidra

The larger upstairs area of Pumpehuset is by no means at full capacity tonight, the faithful few that have dragged themselves to the venue early seem to be in high spirits, and more than willing to offer the domestic support act the response necessary to fuel a solid performance. Fists are pumping and hoi!'s are roared in thunderous unison at an enthusiastic vocalist, Morten Bryld; while on the stage side Martin W. Jensen, Carlos G.R. (both guitarist) and Danny Svendsen (on the keyboard) whisk together a sound repertoire of melodies easy on the ear, if lacking somewhat in originality. Heidra fuse together elements of folk, power and Viking metal, with Amon Amarth, Grand Magus and Ensiferum the most prominent influences audible in their songs; but while there is a certain novelty in bringing those genres together, the music of Heidra has a regrettable tendency to sound more like a sum of its parts than a product capable of dotting the band on the wider map of metal.

That does not mean, however, that Heidra induce in me a state of sleepy anticipation for an end to these proceedings - they're far too tight, and have much too firm a handle on penning engaging songs. Bryld's switches between singing à la Janne 'JB' Christoffersson (of the already mentioned Grand Magus) and Petri Lindroos (frontman of the likewise mentioned Ensiferum) generate enough contrast to draw away attention from the group's idolatry, while the ingenious fusion of glorious power metal and incisive melodic death metal in "Eyes of the Giant" gets ace marks in my book. Now if Heidra would invest more in mustering a visually enthralling performance as well (with the exception of the persistently charismatic Bryld, the remaining five members do little to contribute beyond a razor sharp delivery of their individual parts), and if they continue to work toward establishing a more readily distinguishable sound than is the case here, surely they would receive the recognition they seek. This is good stuff, but it never puts me on the edge of the seat, so to speak.

6

Korpiklaani

Over the years, an increasing amount of Korpiklaani's output has been sung entirely in Finnish, and as such it is not surprising to discover that just a measly 19% of tonight's setlist comprises English language tracks (the live staples "Vodka", "Wooden Pints" and "Happy Little Boozer"). But as the band has moved in this direction, so too has their fanbase adapted; that most people are unable to sing along to the catchiest bits of a song like the raucous "Pilli on pajusta tehty" does not equate to less fun - on the contrary, there is something about vocalist Jonne Järvelä's mastery of ancient Finnish pronounciation, lyricism and poetry that makes the music infinitely more interesting (to me, at least) than most other folk metal outfits, and drives the band's non-native fans to channel the sing-along opportunities foregone into constant jumping, moshing, as well as chain- and polka dancing.

Witnessing the euphoria of the crowd - now extending approximately halfway down the room's length - Korpiklaani themselves seem to be in more festive spirits than on previous occasions, with even the customarily introverted Jarkko Aaltonen on bass guitar unable to keep his grin from running amok. Indeed, the six members - completed by guitarist Kalle 'Cane' Savijärvi, accordionist Sami Perttula, violinist Tuomas Rounakari and drummer Matti 'Matson' Johansson - are all sporting smiles both enthusiastic and inspired with awe, and as a result, even the slightly muddy mix and insufficient volume fail to put a cork on the flow of energy from the floor to the stage and back again. "Viinamäen mies" and "Sahti" both incite the party foretold by their infectious quality on record as does the instrumental "Vaarinpolkka" from 2011's "Ukon Wacka" album; and much to my surprise, even the slower and more atmospheric takes like "Lempo" sounds as if born for the live setting.

As the set winds on and the general promille level grows however, it starts to feel like at 21 songs, Korpiklaani might have hit the pitfall of packing too much material into a Monday night show. As the age old proverb goes, there is such a potential as too much of a good thing, and as the Finnish tribe - unyielding in their own enthusiasm, mind you - course through "Minä näin vedessä neidon" and "Ämmänhauta", getting through these to eventually reach the promised fan favourites suddenly feels like a bit of an endeavour. Especially as neither Järvelä nor his compatriots are in any mood to address the audience, preferring instead to fill the transitions with strange vocalisations, samples and other effects. "Vodka", "Rauta" and "Wooden Pints" are delivered in quick succession immediately after, but at this point yours truly at least sees them not as the pinnacle of the set that they should be, but rather as a physical manifestation of the sentence: "Alright, give me those tracks and then let me go home!".

A three-song encore concluding with a cover of Finnish veteran singer-songwriter Hector's "Juodaan viinaa" is also included on the menu, yet as the hour nears 23:00 and the prospect of a full day's work the next day looms ominously in the horizon, the last thing that I want to do is heed the call in track's title (in English: "Let's drink booze"). A convincing performance it is then by these folk metal stalwarts, with just the odd technical issue and the punishing length of the set dragging my overall impression down. One thing I will claim: rarely will you have so much fun at a concert as at one curated by Korpiklaani. Do yourself a favour, and catch these maniacs live the next time they're nearby.

Setlist:

  • 01. Viinamäen mies
  • 02. Journey Man
  • 03. Pilli on pajusta tehty
  • 04. Lempo
  • 05. Sahti
  • 06. Ruumiinmultaa
  • 07. Petoeläimen kuola
  • 08. Sumussa hämärän aamun
  • 09. Vaarinpolkka
  • 10. Viima
  • 11. Metsämies
  • 12. Kultanainen
  • 13. Minä näin vedessä neidon
  • 14. Ämmänhauta
  • 15. Kylästä keväinen kehto
  • 16. Vodka
  • 17. Rauta
  • 18. Wooden Pints

--Encore--

  • 19. Pellonpeikko
  • 20. Happy Little Boozer
  • 21. Juodaan Viinaa (Hector cover)

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