TAROT: HEAVY METAL ON ICE – Kuopio 8.1.2008

Text and pics by ISMO KORHONEN

Imagine the typical heavy metal concert: lights, smoke, enthusiastic crowd and a kick-ass metal band shredding it up on stage. That was the easy part. Now replace the moshing metal fans at the front of the stage with a set of high class professional figure skaters performing to the blasting heavy music. Not your usual metal gig setting any more for sure! Steel Mill’s guest contributor Ismo Korhonen headed out to the venue to check out what the hell was going on and is back with an exclusive report of this unique event.

The year 2008 started in a quite odd way in Kuopio. The city’s best known heavy metal act Tarot had a gig with local ice skater groups and also a few high class professional skating stars were included from other cities and even from other countries! So cold and windy weather wasn’t a problem for fans of Tarot and professional figure ice skating to gather around the Kuopio’s biggest ice skating rink.

I bet many of the readers are now thinking: “Why did someone came up with this kind of happening?” Well actually I don’t know either, but the main issue was the most important – all the gathered funds were given as charity for children’s centre of cancer and blood diseases in Kuopio, so why wouldn’t I support this kind of a noble event?

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At first glance some might think it’s a little bit awkward to go and see a heavy metal show combined with professional figure skating. Personally I wouldn’t have gone to the event either, lest one casual thing had changed at a final moment; Instead of Tarot’s proper frontman Marco Hietala the singing duty was first given to a famous Finnish opera singer, Johanna Rusanen. But suddenly she became ill and there was a high risk that the whole event would get cancelled. Luckily Marco seems to be more than a kind-hearted beardy fellow and he rushed in to “cover up” the singer’s position, even though he was enjoying his vacation from Nightwish touring at the moment.

Back to the show itself. The concert started with the big scenery of skaters on ice while Tarot played the song Crows Fly Black. It wasn’t just the ice hall’s cold breeze, that made my skin get goosebumbs… While I was shivering and wondering what was wrong – I noticed that maybe in this case it wouldn’t be that bad at all. Also I had to admit that there was probably a few teardrops coming up to my eye, while I was watching the beginning of the show…it was just so amazing..

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The ice skater teams Ice Fusion and Heavy Metal Team made great first appereances with their heavy metallish costumes and performance. Tarot played mostly songs from their latest album, but of course some older tunes got popped in, such as Guardian Angel, Shadow In My Heart, Things That Crawl At Night and Wings Of Darkness. In addition the band played Blue Öyster Cult song Veteran of The Psychic Wars and also the guitarist Zachary Hietala played his own solo track Antz, which was originally recorded for the finnish Guitar Heroes album. As a groovy and talented guitarist the big Z handled the situation out with style and joyfulness.

The show lasted for almost three hours (with one small break), but still kept it’s grip and didn’t turn boring. Tarot played well, though Marco seemed to be a bit tired and stiff because of the heavy gig schedule of Nightwish. Still he filled his duty as a singer utmost best as always, even if his stage movements weren’t that energetic.

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So a spectacular show it surely was. It was great to see how friends of heavy metal music and figure skating were united in this same event. While heavy metal guys tried to hold their heads from banging and skating fans tried to restrain themselves from applauding for everything, it all went quite well. It was nice to see that my hometown’s ice hall was at least once totally filled up. Thanks to Tarot and the ice skaters, for making something culturally important and cool without losing their respect and confidence for themselves.

It has also been rumoured that the video footage of Heavy Metal On Ice is going to be released on Tarot’s upcoming Live DVD package, which is going to show up later in the year 2008.

Setlist:

Crows Fly Black
Traitor
Ashes To The Stars
Warhead
Guardian Angel
Before The Skies Come Down
Bleeding Dust
Veteran Of The Psychic Wars
Things That Crawl At Night
Rider Of The Last Day
Follow Me Into Madness
Antz
Tides
Crawlspace
You
Shadow In My Heart
Wings Of Darkness
I Rule

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