The autumn is approaching rapidly but let us take a trip back to the early days of August when sun was still shining hotter than hell and festival season was in full swing! Steel Mill lunatics Kassu and Ville travelled to Mikkeli’s Jurassic Rock, towards the Eastern part of Finland, a region where dinosaurs used to roam….well, not anymore than anywhere else I suppose and the name of the festival actually is more related to an old theme park nearby where you can check out waxed replicas of those old rulers of the earth.
Ville: Most of the two-day event was filled with domestic bands that were not in our field of expertise. However Friday evening at around 8 PM two legends took the stage and the two of us along with our trusted photographer Pasi witnessed the show right from the front rows. Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner are names every self respecting rock fan should know – not only from their days as Rainbow frontmen but from several other projects the pair have since worked on. Bonnet just recently did a string of solo gigs in Finland but Turner’s last visit took place with his Hughes/Turner Project tour in 2002 and to my knowledge he had never played in Finland strictly as solo artist. And certainly never with Bonnet. Beforehand we were promised “a night with Rainbow” which naturally meant tracks from the four classic albums Bonnet and Turner recorded with the band between 1979-1983. No complaints from us. We arrived to the showground few minutes before the set was sceduled to begin. Immediately we noticed the audience was not the best possible target group for this gig, they were mostly under or just over 20 (meaning they were not even born when the last classic Rainbow album was released!) and surely enough majority of them were spread all over the festival area, doing everything else but watching the legends in action. Still, a number of faithful fans had gathered at front and we parked right behind them in the middle, at least the view was now excellent with no one disturbing us and we were determined to enjoy the show.
Kassu: Well, yes – I agree it was somehow odd that compared to some new domestic bands, legends like Turner and Bonnet drew much lesser audience. But to each his own. At least the people who came to see this legendary pair (Turner and Bonnet, not me and Ville!) were really enthusiastic about the upcoming gig. And as the show proceeded, it was nice to notice that a lot more people started to wander towards the stage – obviously the great music and performance present showed it’s irresistable spell even to those who heard the songs for the first time in their lives.
As the anticipation rose higher, it was finally time for the show to begin. After the supporting band had assembled on the stage, it turned out to be JLT who was to deliver the first tunes of the evening. And there was no shortage of energy with the first song; Speedy classic ‘Death Alley Driver’ was given a storming treatment and it become crystal clear that this concert would rock indeed!
V: Yes, the drive of the band was in high gear right from the start, this was basically the same group of finnish rockers who had also played with Bonnet on his last solo tour. They did the songs close enough to originals without wandering off too far towards improvisation. Just the right amount of personal touch. In addition to the regular band there were also two female backing vocalists on stage, giving extra punch to chrouses. JLT was in excellent form vocally, he still has his pipes mostly intact and could belt out “Death Alley Driver” like in the good old days. In the beginning some problems with sound appeared, Turner implying he couldn’t hear the girls and the girls on stage apparently could not hear themselves. An extra monitor was placed in front of them and this helped the situation somewhat. After “Death Alley Driver” they launched into “Stranded” – this was one of the definite highlights during the evening. An underrated song, yet one of Rainbow’s finest rockers and possibly not heard live on stage since the band’s final tour in 1984 (Rainbow of course reformed briefly in mid-90’s but excluded most of their commercial material from the set). However, JLT seemed more than happily perform these tunes and during “Stranded” crowd started showing more appreciation. We could hear and see people rocking out to this one and “Can’t Happen Here” which followed.
K : For me as well “Stranded” really was one of the top moments of the show. An excellent song and since it didn’t belong to Rainbow’s regular setlists, also a very pleasant surprise.
After the rocking start, it was time to slow things down a bit. “Can’t Let You Go” and “Stone Cold” were the next songs in line and if Turner had proved he can still belt out the rockers like in the past, his delivery of the more mellow selections from the Rainbow arsenal was also completely intact. These two classic ballads evoked spontaneous sing-a-longs from some of the audience and the addition of the ladies on backing vocals worked nicely for the songs’ favour, adding some new layers to the songs while still letting Turner pour out his emotions to the heartbreak -themed songs.
By this time the audience had been completely drawn to the magic of old Rainbow classics, but of course it was the next song the band offered, that really caused the biggest reaction amongst the gathered faithful…
V: True, “I Surrender” – the most famous JLT-era Rainbow track got people jumping up and down, we amongst them of course! Many otherwise uneducated also knew the words for the chorus and sang along. Even though this tune is played often in rock radios, it always goes down well in concert. The band played it just perfectly.
The last songs of the set were melodic “Street Of Dreams” and powerful rendition of “Spotlight Kid”. Turner left the stage after strong applauses and announcing the arrival of his predecessor in Rainbow, mr.Graham Bonnet. Bonnet as usual, had lyrics to the songs mapped out all over stage but this didn’t bother the atmosphere at all. More than once the man made fun of himself not remembering the words and was in overall great mood. He kicked off with “Eyes Of The World” and like JLT proved instantly that his voice was still in good shape. Although 10 years older than Turner, Bonnet had plenty of energy sometimes even running around the stage and seemingly screaming his lungs out during higher parts. His set was built almost exclusively around his sole Rainbow album “Down To Earth” with only one exception – “God Blessed Video” (an Alcatrazz song from 1985) which was aired next. At this point, I noticed the crowd was really enthusiastic and enjoying Bonnet’s stage presence!
K: Very true. Bonnet remains a true showman, giving himself 100% on stage and really getting the audience pumped up. Especially his screams were astonishing! With veins bulging in his neck and forehead, face blazing red, Bonnet didn’t pull any punches while ripping out the frantic shrieks during the songs. The audience really appreciated this and the response Bonnet got from the crowd was big. A real leather lungs for a man!
“God Blessed Video” was indeed the only song in the set that came outside of the Rainbow catalogue. Personally it’s never been my favourite of all the Alcatrazz tracks but at least it offered another chance for Bonnet to belt out more of his traditional loud, coarse screams.
After this brief revisit to the music of Alcatrazz, we were again transported in time back to the Down To Earth days. Bluesy and moody “Love’s No Friend” was again offered with very classy playing from the band and Bonnet seemingly enjoyed to sing this song. Audience, as was already apparent at this point, loved every second.
Then was the time for some older Rainbow material. One of true heavy metal cornerstones, “Stargazer” from 1976’s “Rising” album was of course ordinary done with Ronnie James Dio as Rainbow’s frontman, but as his successor, Bonnet had done this song many times in live enviroment. The version played at Jurassic Rock omitted the last third of the original piece but worked nonetheless like a charm. And all in all was a balancing factor to the overall flavor of the gig, offering some weighty, dark heavy metal between the more radio friendly material of the post-Dio days of Rainbow.
And as the metal masterpiece ended, it was Bonnet’s turn to throw in his highest cards of the night…
V: …the closing trio “All Night Long,” “Since You Been Gone” and “Lost In Hollywood” was an ending anyone would have a hard time to beat. Once again, these tracks are familiar to a common rock audience and everyone was having a good time. While not a huge amount of people, those that were there sure made a lot of noise throughout until the end. It was a fitting testimony to the power of classic rock, while performed in a fashion this good by the original protagonist, it could hardly have been any better…of course it is also worrying that we always have to rely on the old guard to deliver the goods. Hopefully some youngsters will pick up the crown and make some new anthems for this millennium.
Anyway, Bonnet’s set was over but he returned soon enough bringing JLT with him for an encore. Earlier during the set I was expecting the last duet to be “Lost In Hollywood” since both singers have recorded it, but they belted out “Long Live Rock’n’Roll” instead which IMO was the perfect way to close the evening. Again Bonnet had to read the words from a paper strapped to a mike stand and there was one slightly funny moment when he was going on to do another verse, leading Turner to point out it was actually time for a sing along with the crowd..there was barely any voice left in us by then but whatever was left was given. Excellent version of this somewhat overplayed Dio-era classic, maybe it was the different delivery again but the song sounded really fresh that night. The whole band then took their bows and exited the stage. All in all I’d say this was one of the best rock shows I have seen recently. Would you agree?
K: Hell yes! A storming show that really proved that both of these rock masters still got what it takes to offer a killer live performance. Hats off also to the supporting band, they did a very good job playing the songs and appreciating the grand company they were with, let the spotlights shine on these two frontmen.
Even though I was expecting a lot from this show beforehand, it required the energy and almost magical atmosphere of the actual gig to really let it all sink in with full force. Bringing together two vocalists of this caliber was truly a memorable event and worth the price of Jurassic Rock’s two-day ticket alone. The audience was overcome with a total hard rock fever during the gig, and a lot of shouting, jumping, singing and cheering became it’s symptoms. Our photographer Pasi even lost all his home, work and car keys while bouncing around wildly, but luckily somebody had found them later and Pasi got his keys back the next morning. But in the meantime he took – as you can see – some great pictures, so a big “thank you” has to go to him once more. And another one to whoever found his keys 🙂
So strong was the impact of this show by messeurs Turner and Bonnet, that even though there would’ve been more bands on stage later that night we decided to withdraw to the Mikkeli centrum to savour the feeling of the blasting gig over a couple of beers and good company.
The next day I ventured back to the festival area, and witnessed some more bands. But as enjoyable the best of them were, none could top the class of Turner/Bonnet. And if Jurassic Rock manages to introduce similar artists on it’s upcoming bills, I for one shall be there again!
– Death Alley Driver
– Can’t Happen Here
– Can’t Let You Go
– Stone Cold
– I Surrender
– Street Of Dreams
– Spotlight Kid
– Eyes Of The World
– God Blessed Video
– Love’s No Friend
– All Night Long
– Since You Been Gone
– Lost In Hollywood
– Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
IN A NUTSHELL
Location: Mikkeli, Finland
Attendance: 11 000
– Joe Lynn Turner
& Graham Bonnet (USA/UK)
– Dark Tranquillity (SWE)
– And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead (USA)
– We Are The Physics (UK)
– Poets Of The Fall (FIN)
– Paprika Korps (POL)
– Hurriganes (FIN)
– Raised Fist (SWE)
– Stam1na (FIN)
– Mokoma (FIN)
– Kotiteollisuus (FIN)
– Sepi Kumpulainen (FIN)
Open air festival. Located on a grassy lakeside area of Visulahti, Jurassic Rock was one of the most scenic festivals I’ve visited lately. The concert area constisted of two stages and a vast grass field in between. Lots of kiosks offering food, festival/band merchandise, etc. plus a beer tent that was for once large enough to offer queueless supply of drinks and shelter for occasional showers of rain to anybody in need. The festival ticket included a free transportation to and from the city of Mikkeli so trips to pubs and back were organized perfectly.
Weather: Occasional but brief attacks of rain, but generally the two days of the event were really hot and sunny. Perfect for enjoying the summer and all the different bands.
TOP 5 BANDS
As our review states, these two hard rock legends were in top form and treated the audience with a tasty selection of true classics of the genre. Definitely the highlight of the festival.
2) Poets of the Fall
With a strong stage presence and great songs, this group ended the festival with style. Band’s brand of softer side of skillful hard rock packed a good amount of spunk live and was a good choice to close the event. Well… there was some reggae band still after them playing, but 95% of the audience couldn’t have cared less.
3) Kotiteollisuus / Mokoma
A couple of finnish-singing metal bands that are extremely popular in Finland and drew considerable audiences. Personally I can’t call myself a big fan of either but admittedly both bands’ shows bombarded the audience with skilled and heavy performance that was enjoyable to witness. Kotiteollisuus’ main man Jouni Hynynen’s laconic sense of humor caused a lot of chuckling amongst the crowd..
– Great scenic location
– Well organized festival, pretty much everything was working smoothly
– Big enough beer tent!
– Camping & transportation to the city included in the ticket price for those in need of them
– Free self-service water points all around to help quenching your thirst
– Storage desk for holding backpacks etc was working slooooow…
– Inclusion of different kinds of bands is a double edged sword – now there was something for everyone which is basically good… but my God – it’s inhuman to make a rock fan to listen to hip hop! 😉