Ilosaarirock. Presenting stars, fulfilling with tranquility
No matter how you are feeling when you arrive at the Finnish Ilosaari
- the island of happiness - the atmosphere of joy and happiness will
inevitably capture you. It doesn't matter that Joensuu - the town, where
Ilosaarirock takes place, is provincial to the smallest stone of its
main road. It doesn't matter that the list of participants will never
be as impressive as those of the neighboring festivals. Year after year
Ilosaarirock confidently starts and confidently finishes. This year
marked the 39th consecutive year of the festival, and Ilosaarirock was
sold out again, there were five separate stages and over 50 bands from
Finland, Sweden, UK, Belgium, Holland, Serbia, Jamaica and the USA performed
during the festival. On Saturday night the stage is still decorated
with thousands of candles and then there are traditional fireworks.
The rough coffee smell of the Finnish Province adds a unique charm to
This year Ilosaarirock met its guests on a sunny windy Friday and with
some emotional calm. From the very beginning everybody has been talking
only about Faith No More, however at the same time on the Ylex and Rekka
stages you could already hear people singing along to some Finnish bands.
Vesterinen Yhtyeineen for example - the group singing only in Finnish,
but that didn't detract from their show this evening. Calm, beautiful,
melodic songs somehow reminiscent of the Ukranian group Okean El'zy
and in this case the native language comes exactly in the right place
as well. Once you see them you realize that their music is something
that your soul has been searching for and it is in someway a discovery.
Because what really new can you find out about Mike Patton? He hasn't
got any younger.
Ilosaarirock. Star Saturday
Friday lined up peacefully. Saturday started out with the loud Mokoma
that was heard well enough even in the camping site of the festival.
In a few hours the same stage was taken by Swedish Katatonia that performed
with a great sound, and light show as well as a video shown on a screen
behind the band. Jonas Renkse was shining in the crucifixion pose of
Christ and did it so captivatingly that even skeptics couldn't question
it. "July" in July for Ilosaarirock and "Evidence"
with the everlasting question "will you read the letters I will
send to you"… Lights, highlights, cigarette smoke - total immersion.
And that was only mid- Saturday!
Passing from Katatonia to the main stage, where Tarot was in full control
of their audience. Marko Hietala has a great beard and is still singing
well - listening to him is always a great pleasure and so it was at
Ilosaarirock-2010! We enjoyed Tarot right up to the moment when at the
Ylex stage something completely different and extraordinary began. Imogen
Heap from UK - a wonder in feathers literally, the English sister of
Tori Amos (at least since here also was a spiritual cover to Leonard
Cohen). A fragile young woman who did what no one was expecting anyone
could do. Everyone stopped talking about Faith No More and began speaking
of her as of a shining beacon of the modern music and agreed that she
is the brightest star of the festival.
Actually, Imogen Heap, and that is her real name, deserves a separate
article. Not only how this 32 year old singer collaborates with the
audience, but what she does a capella is nothing short of amazing. This
is indeed a very talented artist who has a great live performance.
Knowing Nick Kershaw and Guy Sigsworth, she preferred not to hide behind
their mighty backs. Cooperating with famous musicians and at the same
time recording soundtracks to "The Chronicles of Narnia" for
example, Imogen Heap has been lucky enough to get a Grammy for her album
of 2009 called "Ellipse". Having heard her at Ilosaarirock
it is easy to confirm that she is in the greatest shape now and it will
be extremely interesting to see how her music career will develop in
Basically after the performance like that it was just fine to go home
fully satisfied. But the festival went forward - Ismo Alanko, the Finnish
David Bowie, was already capturing the main stage. Joensuu is his native
town, he spent his childhood here. So, no surprise that he is a regular
guest of Ilosaarirock. However, despite that his music is quite simple,
listening to him again and again could be very nice and pleasant. Stylish,
competent, full of life - everything to make the main stage's audience
cheered enough on the chilly Saturday eve.
And then it was UNKLE. UNKLE live on the Ylex stage - unbelievable,
but fact. And it's ok that critics were sighing, "UNKLE…, what
don't we know about UNKLE…". No need for that whispering - they
were just the best. Excellent sound, fascinating videos, famous songs,
very famous songs, new and very new ones - everything in a single breath
and totally engaged with their audience. They went beyond their allotted
one hour, and have stolen five minutes of precious attention from Bad
Religion, the greatest band of all times. Naughty boys! The best musicians,
big artists - an endless appreciation for their creation.
So, Bad Religion were already on the main stage, surrounded with thousands
of flickering candles, and presented themselves as the apotheosis of
the evening. Everything is just fine with them without any big changes.
Greg Graffin is also well preserved and was bubbling from the stage
quite a lot. He informed the audience that the participants of the festival
and fans must influence the organizers somehow so that they would invite
the band for the festival more often. Against the background of the
faded performance it was not quite clear how much of a joke was there.
Also the front man announced that since the USA hasn't got George Bush
at the helm anymore, literally: "we can leave the country".
So what is left - is to be very happy for Americans after all. And thus
the first day of Ilosaarirock was finished.
Ilosaarirock. Tranquil moods
Sunday wasn't overloaded with star names so there was a good chance
to have a nice walk around the town of Joensuu, swim in the lake and
once again enjoy this calm atmosphere, the feeling of total safety and
peace. The real forest smell of conifer, the small hint of hay, cool
Karelian breeze - the best desired gift to any megapolis citizen. And
above that even more good music - Biffy Clyro from UK for example. Their
performance was cheerful - a very English band. Too much of drums though,
however the audience was shaken well enough!
At the same time on the Rento stage that is placed on the bank of the
lake, Serbian Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar were cheering up the guests
of the festival as well. Good Balkan music and non pretentious was fitting
just in the right place in the right time: people were dancing, singing
and having fun.
A bit latter the reggae man Ziggi from Holland performed on that stage
and did it ordinarily, however successfully. The audience appreciated
him as well - probably because the atmosphere of Rento stage always
inspires for the good rest and positive vibrations.
And then stormy clouds started to capture the heaven above Joensuu,
Faith No More talking became even louder, the press-center closed, VIP-caf?
was finishing its work. But before the culmination few hours were still
left and at that exact moment Amorphis overtook the main stage.
It's needed to underline that Amorphis was just at a time - they really
rocked Ilosaari for the first time during the whole Sunday. It was great
listening and watching them and if anyone was still missing Pasi Koskinen
this is the best time to stop doing so. Tomi Joutsen is ruling the band
just fine, with self-forgetful inspiration sakes his dreadlocks, wears
very fashionable jeans and what is quite important sings perfectly well.
Sings, for example, "Alone" from Am Universum album and does
it, have to admit, better than Pasi. So this splendid performance of
Amorphis lead the evening closer to its culmination, Ilosaarirock has
In front of the main stage thousands of participants of the festival
gathered all together - standing, sitting, laying down. The screens
were awaked by a promising massage "Faith No More". Roar of
the crowd, security nervousness, but at 10.15 p.m. sharp - strictly
according to the schedule - Mike Patton and the friends arrived to the
stage. Quite confidently they have sung one hit after another "Evidence",
"Easy", "Just a man"… Patton was spitting the water
to nowhere, was tearing off the coat, was grabbing the operator's camera
with the operator and shaking them hard - in short, was mightily emulating
in style of the 80's. And though Faith No More are still impressive
enough and still look quite well in their suits, something has gone
and has remained somewhere. Evidently in the history and apparently
And then to everyone's disappointment it started to rain. Rain was getting
harder, yet the music was lasting for a long time; Ilosaarirock slowly
has flown together with the falling night and ended imperceptibly, melted
in the echo of undoubtedly great group, but the group of the past.
And in the morning the camping site drifted in one big puddle all together.
Then you are left with the bright memories of how you chewing a straw
gathered in an endless Finnish field, taking a deep view of the nice
lake, watching guys from Biffy Clyro close enough, hearing riffs of
Amorphis, will finally hurry up to the main stage to enjoy the sound
and the light and the great music. As you float with the thousands in
the crowd on the united current of happiness and fall to thinking and
feeling the complete tranquility far from the life stresses, planes,
trains and highways. Ilosaarirock imparts this feeling, make it last
as long as you can until you come back again. Someday, for sure.