- Christmas In August? What A Present For North American Fans!
By Mark Gromen
Just the second night of a month long tour brought WINTERSUN
to Philadelphia's Theater Of The Living Arts (TLA) on August 7th. Midweek and with not a lot of similar minded support, in the form of ARIAS and the elaborate, corpse-painted symphonic FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE,
complete with masked operatic diva and tattered Victorian garb: waist coats and bow ties. Mattered not to the large contingent of Wintery faithful and founder/frontman/guitarist Jari Mäenpää, the wiry blonde looking like another denizen of the frozen North... Nice to see a larger than expected crowd for a relatively obscure act, which was heavily skewed towards a female demographic, compared to the other acts on the bill.
Lots of purple lights for the lengthy 'Sons Of Winter And Stars'
opener (photographers given "just" one song to shoot, instead of the customary three, due to how long it ran). Electric fans were placed next to the monitors, to blow back the hair of guitarist Teemu Mantysaari and bassist Jukka Koskinen,
as Jari got as close as possible to the fans on the opposite side of the barricade. During 'Time' he smashed Bro-knuckles with a number of those down front. 'Battle Against Time' And 'Sleeping Stars' were on the pre-printed setlist, but just before the gig, the tour manager came out and obliterated them, with a black Sharpie. Many Germans would be envious of these Finns' beer hall sing-along anthems. 'Land Of Snow And Sorrow'
saw the three headbanging side-by-side, center stage. There are lots of pre-recorded tapes, yet it doesn't detract from the majesty and pomp.
During 'Beautiful Death',
ventured to the bar, for a refill, only to find it completely empty (thought maybe they'd closed, once the headliner went on). Nope, everyone was watching WINTERSUN!
Might be the highest compliment you can pay a Finnish band, people chose your music over drinks. 'Death And The Healing'
ends with piped in piano, as the entire band leaves the stage. Follow-up 'Winter Madness' sees Mäenpää alone onstage, playing along to a soundtrack, then suddenly it jumps to a barbaric, full ensemble workout. A certain portion of the crowd knew each song after only a few guitar notes (impressive!), as Jari dashed from side to side. 'Starchild'
was the eagerly anticipated finale to the proper set, only to see them return for an encore, the guitarist teasing, "Do you want to hear one more? Two more? Ten more? OK, one more. What do you want to hear?" Not sure if it was actually requested, but WINTERSUN broke into a few bars of SURVIVOR's 'Eye Of The Tiger'
(perhaps because they were close to the location where a good portion of the movie Rocky was filmed). Laughs over, somehow they decided on 'The Way Of The Fire' as the truly last number of the evening.
Can't wait for the second installment of Time, early next year! Then maybe another round of touring?
More photos from Philadelphia can be seen here.