In Tampere, Finland, June 8-10, 2006

Expectations are a bitch, aren’t they? Someone wise once said that the journey you take to get there is more important than the actual destination. Both sayings unfortunately seemed to fit this year’s Sauna Open Air Metal Festival. After last year’s excellent festival, it seemed the only way was down. There’s a pun there, but still, last year’s amazing line-up is going to be the mighty yardstick subsequent Sauna’s will have difficulties to measure against. This year, the headliners were all targeted to different tastes. Thursday belonged to the Stooges, Friday to darker Metal, and Saturday to 80’s revival.

On Thursday, legendary Iggy and the Stooges were as good as anyone could have hoped. Unlike last year, this time the town of Tampere did not welcome festival guest with the warm weather. Everyone faced a longer walk to the new site in a chillingly cold breeze, more accustomed to a cruel spring than to the beginning of summer. The cold weather raised speculations whether or not Iggy would still be without a shirt, as is his custom on stage. He was, and undoubtedly all that pogoing kept him warm. Most of the familiar Iggy antics were seen. That strange dance, the pose with his hands above his head, groping of the genitals, and those looks of frustrated angst. Probably due to the highness of the stage, the fans did not see the man stage dive, but to make up for this, he invited the whole front row onto the stage. Judging by the fairly young ages of the bunch that ended up on stage pogoing alongside Iggy, this was the first time for many to witness this living legend perform. It was fun to watch the amazement on the faces of those lucky few who made it onto the stage. They weren’t sure if they should keep dancing to their own beat or just stare at Iggy. A few of them even took pictures, but most just wanted to touch the man. Confusion seemed to be strongest emotion. During “Fun House,” Iggy handed the mic over to the audience and got a lot of greetings and a request to “show us your penis,” which he then, in true Iggy style, did. Song-wise, “TV Eye,” “Dog,” “No Fun,” “Funhouse,” and “Skullring” stood out. For some strange reason, the band did “I Wanna Be Your Dog” twice. But hey, the first time performed at the beginning of the set made it clear that you were indeed listening to the Stooges, and then to close the set, Iggy left you humming the catchiest tune the band ever wrote.

Surprisingly, there were still tickets left for the club show by Down. If you stayed at the festival until the end, then you just might have caught a glimpse of the pre-show film that served as an opening act to the Down show. In the film, you could see a mix of Down’s favorite artists performing and watch Down themselves getting into “jackass” style tour antics. Who would have thought that Finland would have the most diehard Down fanatics? From the get-go, the crowd sang along and welcomed the band like royalty. Despite this warm welcome, it took the pissed off Anselmo most of the show to calm down. For the fans, this did not seem to matter, they still ate it all up with grateful smiles on their faces. Undoubtedly, this will earn the Finnish crowd a few slots in the upcoming Down live DVD. Despite the obvious frustration on stage, the show was still top notch, and Down proved to be truly to be a “live band” since this was a totally different batch of musicians on stage than the ones Oslo witnessed a few days earlier. At that show, Anselmo was everyone’s friend, and goofed around the entire show. On Thurday night in Tampere, the beast on stage was of a totally different ilk. The hostile mood seemed to add more depth and groove to the songs. Just like their beloved New Orleans, Down proved to be dark, dangerous, and yet majestically beautiful all at the same time, and those “best show of the year” comments afterwards weren’t that far fetched.

Friday’s Cradle of Filth show wasn’t that memorable. Their show didn’t really fit into a daytime festival and cried out for indoor lightning to set the mood right. It was still cool to witness Dani let out all those growls and screams, though.

On to Saturday… summer finally decided to return with typical steamingly hot weather. It seemed like half of Finland had travelled to Tampere for a chance to see Lordi, W.A.S.P., and Twisted Sister all on the same bill. To the amazement of all, by winning the Eurovision song contest this year, Lordi has caught the eye of the whole nation, and everyone from preschoolers to grandmothers can be seen digging them. This was the case with this crowd too. All the kid shirts of Lordi sold out. It was wicked cool to see a bunch of seven year-old girls flashing the devil signs and dancing to the sound of Lordi. The band themselves haven’t changed much, and the show was as thought out as it’s always been, with lots of theatre going on just like at an Alice Cooper show, only better visually. If you haven’t seen them live, please do so as soon as possible. Even if the tunes are a bit one-dimensional, the show is still worth seeing. There just aren’t more lovable monsters than those of Lordi. All you need to know are the lines “Could you love a Monsterman?” and “Hard Rock hallelujah,” and you’ll be all set.

The thought of W.A.S.P. sounded better on paper than they did live. Among those who have lived through the Metal mayhem of the early 80s, there probably isn’t one who isn’t crazy about W.A.S.P.’s debut album. To those early 80s fans, W.A.S.P. only proved that nostalgia is not always a good thing. This show seemed to be a case of lots of “if only’s.” If only they had played more songs from the debut, if only they had left out the jam sessions, if only Blackie would have kept himself in shape, if only … you get the drift. Fans still got to hear and sing along to “I wanna be somebody,” if only it wouldn’t have been the ten-minute version. It all started so promisingly, and up until “Love Machine” all seemed fine, but then Blackie said that line “…we’re gonna showcase tunes from all of our albums…,” which only left you wondering why. This was a festival show, not a real W.A.S.P. show for the diehards, but the chance for all those former Metalheads now in their 40’s to reminiscence about their youth, and Blackie decides to educate them on W.A.S.P.’s whole discography? If only…

Well not to worry. Although Blackie and co. blew their chance to cement themselves into the golden memories of the middle aged Metal crowd, Twisted Sister did not. Just like you can’t stop Rock ‘n’ Roll, you apparently cannot stop Twisted “fuckin” Sister as well. It seemed like the band had stepped out of a time capsule with their former stage clothes and all. If you did not look too closely, then they took you right back to the beginning of the 80’s, and you could just see yourself in that jean vest you loved so much, cranking up the stereo a bit too high, just enough to give an illusion that you were annoying your parents and being cool. Remember those days? The days when Captain Howdy seemed a bit scary? Well, it looked like the crowd at Sauna remembered those days. At times, they almost drowned out the band with their singing, and even the band themselves had to stop and acknowledge the amazing sight of the whole field full of raised fists going crazy to the sound of “I Wanna Rock.” Thank you Twisted Sister. And thank you Sauna, you did it again.


  • Metal-Katie

    Katie was a reviewer and interviewer here at Metal Express Radio. She claims to have been born a Metalhead. At least she's been one as far as she can remember. She loves Metal music and she's ever so happy to see generation after another founding its charm. She's always interested in hearing new Metal bands and reading about them and their antics. She lives and breathes Metal, or at least her alter ego does.

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