The 69 Eyes – Tavastia, Helsinki (09/02/24)

The 69 Eyes – Tavastia, Helsinki (09/02/24)

22nd February 2024 0 By Gavin Griffiths

Everyone loves a great live show! The excitement of a tour announcement; are the band touring near you? Making travel plans, booking a hotel, checking out the support bands beforehand, meeting with friends for food and pre-drinks, the atmosphere of the show itself, singing along to your favourite songs, buying new merch…it’s an experience, and a feeling hard to describe, with words that do it justice at least. But what elevates a great show, into something extra special? Memorable, and even sentimental? Allow me to try to explain. 

For over twenty years, as my tastes have grown and evolved, one thing has remained constant for this reviewer; my adoration for Finland. Whether it was falling head over heels for HIM, childhood mornings watching The Moomins, or crying in laughter at the dangerous antics of The Dudesons, I’ve always gravitated to Finland and its cultural impact on my formative years, in some way, shape or form.  

On February 9th, the stars aligned, and I found myself in a position not only able to make the trip to Helsinki (Something I’ve wanted to do forever) but also make it the trip of a lifetime. The Helsinki Vampires, aka THE 69 EYES were mid-tour, still promoting “Death Of Darkness”, and were scheduled to play the legendary Tavastia Klubi, I was fortunate enough to be there, to not only review the show for All About The Rock, but interview the band in their hometown before the show. That’s bucket list stuff right there! Join me, as I wrap my troubles in dreams, and take you through my time in the Finnish capital, like a low-budget version of “Wish You Were Here?” 

Other than a spot of turbulence over the North Sea, the flight went well despite a minor delay, and I landed in Vantaa just after midnight. Following a lot of waiting around in departure lounges, a three-hour flight, getting grilled by passport control and waiting for my suitcase on the little baggage carousel, which was like a closing down sale at a Yo Sushi! bar, I needed a cigarette, but I was NOT prepared for the –-17-degree conditions. It’s all well and good being told by the pilot that it’s cold, but Jesus Christ…I was outside for less than two minutes, and my nose practically became an ice dispenser. I honestly felt that if I had sneezed my face would have shattered. Everything was numb. Alas, after a train journey that I could only hope was in the right direction, a quick trek to my hotel and a newfound appreciation for thermal underwear, I was in my room, showered and in bed at around 1:30 am. There was a long day of exploring ahead of me. 

Friday, February 9th then was a whole-ass adventure. Fully charged phone and a power bank at hand, I had to navigate my way around a city that I’d never been to in a language I don’t speak, but thank God for Google Maps. To summarise, I trudged my way through the icy, gritted streets (Caerphilly Council could only dream of having a budget for this much grit) to a handful of essential bucket list destinations, like Aikuisten Lelukauppa, where Kari Valo gave me some maps and pamphlets after buying a customary shirt. Such a friendly gentleman, I nearly bought the fluffy purple Heartagram handcuffs but saved them for next time. Knowing my luck, I’d cuff myself to my hotel bed and miss the show. Don’t ask me how. 

 For dinner, I was recommended a place called Bastard Burgers and I have to say, I recommend them too! A great choice of freshly made and prepared smash burgers, it was honestly so good. Imagine Five Guys but with a lot more character, and a lot less chips. Seriously, Five Guys, you have a potato fetish or something, the amount of overtime an Irish farmer has to put in just for you to sell one portion of chips is inhumane. I digress. 

Before the gig, it’s an unwritten law that you visit The Riff. The most stylish rock ‘n’ roll bar I’ve ever been to. The black décor, the paraphernalia, the candles, the friendly staff, the background music; it was such a vibe and arguably my new favourite bar. My only gripe is for some reason Finland doesn’t sell full pints, and at €9 a glass, drinking is an expensive hobby here! Which makes this next anecdote all the more impressive.  

There was this local guy in his mid-20s named Oliver…clearly off his chops. He comes and sits next to me and my friend Sabrina who just happened to be in town for the same gig. He was wearing jeans sewn ONTO another pair of stupidly baggy jeans, he tried talking about skateboarding, asked me about Norwich because of a Coke dealer (Of course I know a random Coke dealer in Norwich because I’m from Wales), and fell asleep on the stool at our table. Nice enough guy, but to be in that state in Finland I’d have to take out a loan! 

Finally, then after some touristy walking around looking at statues and the frozen river, it’s nearly time for the show, and more Google Mapping to find the venue. Luckily, Helsinki is laid out quite simply and efficiently, so it’s only a 10 to 15-minute straight walk from my hotel. After the tour manager Marko takes me in for my chat with Jyrki, where I obtain some cool exclusives (Check out that interview here) it’s time for some live music. 

There’s a decent queue outside Tavastia in the cold evening for the 8 pm doors, but there’s oddly no support band tonight, which is new to me personally, but I guess I have less to remember, and one less band to research so I can’t complain! After an hour or so, when the venue is packed, expensive beer is flowing and everyone has sussed out the merch stand, THE 69 EYES [10] strut their way on stage to the backdrop of some classic ELVIS PRESLEY, before bursting into the brooding, Goth-rock classic “Framed In Blood”. Jussi is a commanding presence as ever behind his drum kit, while the band wastes no time warming up tonight’s sold-out coven of vampires. Jyrki, in his rich baritone, pleads with the hungry crowd “Gimme just another reason to live”, and he’s fed a huge chorus sing-along, and every single person in the room is living completely in the moment, and the hits just keep on coming… 

With a solid run of tunes, they rip through “Feel Berlin”, “Betty Blue” and “Black Orchid” in quick succession, spanning a solid discography since the turn of the century, and this is only half of the band’s career. The synth-underlays of the former showcase the band’s penchant for writing down-right catchy rock songs, flowing into simplistic, minimalist Goth rock, before the latter from “West End” proves the band continue to age like a fine red. 

The new album “Death Of Darkness” gets showcased well with the title track, brilliantly bridging melodic melancholy with bite, with grit, and it’s a wonderfully dark yet positive track, while “Drive” and “California” hammer home their ability to write hard-rocking numbers saturated in swagger.  

The trouble with being at a hometown show in Finland, the band rightfully and justifiably address the crowd in Finnish, and I’m not going to lie, I haven’t got a clue what the band are saying between songs, but when all the ladies in the room erupt it makes sense that they tear into “Gothic Girl” and there are hips swaying wall to wall. The band sounds seductive as ever, with the denim and leather-clad devilish charm. They do take us back to 1999 for a rendition of “Wasting The Dawn” but that’s as old-school as we get tonight before we round things up with a mass sing-along to fan favourite “Brandon Lee”. It can’t rain all the time…it’s too fucking cold! 

The 69 Eyes: Tavastia (09/02/24)

With them being the only band playing tonight, it would be rude to not perform an encore however, and after a lot of cheering and applause, they soon return to cover BOYCOTT’s “Gotta Rock”, before ending the night on a high mega-hit “Lost Boys”. The band always ask if we wanna’ rock, but it’s the most rhetorical of questions let’s be honest. The sold-out venue will back me up, but I travelled nearly 2000 miles for this, damn right I wanted to rock all night, and trust me, I DID.  

Having already had memorable nights with the Helsinki Vampires, twice in London, and once in Nottingham, getting to see them on a hometown show on my first visit to Helsinki, makes this an extra special occasion. They not only carry the flag for Gothic rock music, being legends of the genre and the live stage, but they are still somehow one of the most underrated bands on the planet. I say that last bit with an asterisk however, if you go back and check out my interview with Jyrki, there are big things to come this year. They love the darkness in you, it’s about time you loved them back. Kiitos vampyyrit! 
Set List

Framed in Blood
Feel Berlin
Betty Blue
Black Orchid
Death of Darkness
The Chair

Never Say Die
Gothic Girl
Wasting the Dawn
I Love the Darkness in You
Dance d’Amour
Brandon Lee


Gotta Rock (Boycott cover)
Lost Boys


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