The Rasmus – Bristol 02 Academy (02/11/22)28th November 2022
The date is Wednesday, November 2nd, and this reviewer wakes up in his hotel in Bristol at 6 am, because like an absolute idiot, he forgets to switch off his alarm. Typically, any day following a gig WOULD result in a relatively early morning, to travel home and return to some semblance of normality. However, this wasn’t the case today, as I am double booked for ALL ABOUT THE ROCK, for not only am I spending a second night in Bristol to review THE RASMUS, returning to the 02 Academy but I’m penciled in for some interview time too!
So, after a quick shower, a sachet of what was essentially caffeinated dirt, using all four of the little milk cups yet still somehow making black coffee, and some rare actual downtime, enjoying re-runs of “Knight Rider” on TV, it was time to get back to work.
Naturally, I made some notes on last nights THE PRETTY RECKLESS gig, (Check out that review here) but that wasn’t my main priority now, as I have an interview with, at the very least, Lauri Ylönen before the gig tonight, so I get on the laptop, and do my spot of research on the last 12 months; covering their new line-up, kicking the year off with EUROVISION and their new album “Rise”, listening to said album on repeat in the process to get into the vibe.
I decided to get some refreshments from the hotel bar for this…and this amused me. I ordered a coke and a Corona, just to sip on while making said notes, but, while I was allowed to take the glass bottle of lager to my room, I had to put the glass bottle of coke into a plastic cup? Fun fact kids, glass bottles of coke are more dangerous than glass bottles of lager…stay safe…get drunk.
Anyway, enough of that, after another Uber because the weather is still absolutely howling, I get to the venue, have some dinner at The Hatchet Inn (My second home at this point), and after the 12-minute interview on the tour bus, we’re good to go. More on the interview soon, but Kiitos to not only Lauri but the whole band, to take the time to sit and chat; it’s much appreciated. Minä rakastan teitä, kaverit!
Shenanigans are sadly, not quite out of the way before tonight’s gig, however, on what has already been a long-ass day. Queueing for the doors, there is apparently some unexpected medical emergency, resulting in delays outside, as we stand in the wind and the rain. One security guard tried to get a random game of “I Spy” going to distract the queue and kill time, but to say we were collectively less than enthusiastic, would be an understatement. We want to watch the bands damn it! I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR THE RAIN IS NOT AGREEING WITH MY VELVET JACKET! *Cough* We do eventually get in, here’s what went down.
Tonight’s support WAS meant to be ICON FOR HIRE, who, for reasons pertaining to being an independent band, tour sustainability was not feasible, and so they pulled out sadly, which meant we were instead treated to OVERLAPS . Now, I’m not here to say that Overlaps are like the Wish version of Icon For Hire, but sonically they are at least dabbling in similar things musically. It was one of those Tesco like-for-like swaps when you shop online, and they don’t have any tins of peeled plum tomatoes, so they send you a tin of tomato soup. Nice, but no good in my Bolognese.
The Italian four-piece, credit to them, do give it their all and try to get as much energy and participation out of tonight’s early crowd as they possibly can. A band I’d never heard OF let alone heard, their blend of slightly synth-driven alternative pop-rock is undeniably enjoyable on first listen, and credit to them they are fun. Gloria Piccinin is a powerful vocalist it must be said, and she’s got a good set of lungs on her in a live environment.
Tracks from their debut self-titled album like “Hang On You” utilize simple but effectively catchy chorus hooks, long, well-held vocal notes to a backdrop of emo-tinged guitar melodies. “On Monday” opens with a very prominent electronic backing track, which is a shame as, having a keyboardist on stage with them would complete that full band experience, and some people liken it to cheating the audience. Personally, it’s another catchy little track and the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves.
“Your Eyes” off their 2020 album “In Your Room” has a far more crunching guitar sound, giving this track considerably more bite than a lot of their set, but they don’t deviate too far from what seems like their set standard. “Mr. Right” has this fun, yoyoing tempo as the chorus vocals are spat with a sense of frustration, offsetting the slower build of each verse over some more assertive guitars.
Sadly, the newer singles don’t quite have the same appeal. “White Line” and “Love Coma” were both released this year, and the former houses more of an alternative dance-pop sense of production, with its bass-rich synths, while the latter does allow Gloria to deliver some more sultry, husky vocals, but the chorus repetition here, coupled with it’s almost cringeworthy lyrics, disappoints. She COULD be purposefully pronouncing coma wrong to fit her lyrics, or she’s gotten words confused…unless she’s secretly into interstellar activity, as a coma could be referring to the nebulous envelope surrounding the nucleus of a comet, which gets all warm and “fuzzy” as it passes the Sun on its elliptical orbit. Aww…comfy comet, there’s lovely.
After their brief set is over, they take their bows and pack their gear away, it’s once again time for tonight’s headline act as there is no second support. THE RASMUS  make their way onto the stage and the Finnish 4-piece is met with an eruption of ecstatic fans as they tear into a stunning 22-track set of hits, old and new. Opening with a double header from 2003’s breakthrough album “Dead Letters”, we are treated to “First Day Of My Life” and “Guilty” respectively, and we know the band means business. The crowd? Absolutely loving it! Though, as successful as this album was, the band has nine more in their catalog, and there are plenty of treats for the people of Bristol tonight.
A rendition of “Paradise” from “Dark Matters” produces some of Lauri’s sweetest vocal notes, as the soft melodies of the chorus allow the track to ebb and flow like a tide of organic honey. Newer tracks from their latest release “Rise” also go down very well, such as “Fireflies” and “Live And Never Die”, both featured relatively early on to promote the new album before we get what can almost be described as a half-time show. The band strip right back to an acoustic ensemble for three stunning, heartfelt renditions of tracks such as “Still Standing”, which Lauri dedicates to the memory of an old school friend and inspiration.
The hauntingly string-rich non-album compilation track “October & April” is made to feel even more vulnerable here in the acoustic setting, and new guitarist Emppu sings beautifully in place of original collaborator ANETTE OLZON. “Sophia” suddenly then turns up the semi-ska-funk dial, with an upbeat, bonkers but undeniably fun inclusion from the early album “Playboys”, back when the band was still teenagers. Lauri plays the kazoo so well, Emppu jokes that he might secretly be a duck with feathers in his hair, which raises a chuckle.
How could this night possibly get any better? Well, how about a mass sing-along to RAY PARKER JR’s classic anthem “Ghostbusters”? Cheesy at first, but the band is enjoying themselves, it’s something they’ve done since day one and the crowd does get into it before everyone is sent home happy with a climactic flurry “In The Shadows” and “Jezebel”. The latter saw the band perform to millions at the Eurovision Song Contest, which kickstarted their year fantastically, but nobody can deny how big a track “In The Shadows” is. Dedicated to the people of Ukraine, it gets easily the biggest sing-along of the night and Bristol is ALIVE. My inner fourteen-year-old is SCREAMING.
Of course, there were tracks I had to leave out or I’d be here all day, but that in itself is a testament to the career The Rasmus has had. They perform so well together on stage, so tight as a band, the audio quality was damn near album-level perfect. Lauri hits some impressive notes and his voice never faltered once, Emppu has established herself in this short space of time as part of the family, and her guitar playing was clinical tonight, while Aki and Eero steer the ship brilliantly. As downright depressing as the weather is outside tonight, the 02 Academy is full of nothing but warmth and happiness. Welcome back guys, it really is time to “Rise” once again.