I arrived in central London in the early afternoon, accompanied by my fiance and Relive the Music collaborator, Pete Kent and after spending a couple of hours in Liverpool Street, having a lovely lunch at The Railway, located across the road from the underground station, we bravely ventured into the blue yonder of Camden.
Camden is thus described this way, for that particular moment in time, because Poets of the Fall, despite their international fame which developed over the last decade after their debut on Max Payne (2004), had never toured the United Kingdom before. There were obscurely known, unrightfully so, in comparison to their European success; so the diversity of their fandom was to be an interesting prospect.
When we first arrived outside World’s End, the residing public house next door to the renowned music venue, there were a handful of people, some attired in Poets of the Fall merchandise, and there was one I distinctively remember for her creative facial paint, resembling the iconic star like shape on Twilight Theatre’s jester on the album cover, and later in the music video for Daze, from their newest album Jealous Gods, which their Europe and United Kingdom tour focuses. Because there was a couple of hours to spare, the doors not opening until 7pm, Pete and I had a quick drink and a loo break, and to our surprise, the queue in the space of fifteen, twenty minutes had extravagantly grown. It had passed the corner of the road when he and I stepped out of Camden Station – it had reached halfway down the right side of the building by the time we retook our place. Promising, right?
Fast forward an hour, after brief conversations with the attending fans behind us, and a small debate on authority, the long line of people began to officially move, it was already twilight and the street lamps were illuminated the early night life. Upon showing our shared e-ticket, we were stamped and descended the steps into a dusky atmosphere, taking our places on the circular section, wanting to be as near as the stage as possible.
It wasn’t long until we met the supporting act, The Dyr Sister (formerly known as Salbo Baggins), who appeared on stage a few minutes after the main lighting was dimmed. Dyr Sister was an intriguing solo act, her sound and vocal expression reminiscent of experimental and avant-garde singers Bjork, Imogen Heap, and CocoRosie, with a touch of neo-folk heard on original soundtrack of The Wickerman (1973), composed by Paul Giovanni and Magnet; her voice having a hushed trill. In between performances (The Devil Draws in Crayola, and The Plasticity of People being two of the selection of songs she performed), Sally was a playful and quirky personality to behold. However despite having a few recognitions for her performance (including myself), the majority of the awaiting audience came across as disinterested – primarily due to the fact that Dyr Sister’s genre of music was dissimilar to the main act.
As the young performer resumed on her last song, there was signs of movement around 8pm as support personnel began to instigate sound checks, and play around with the surrounding lights, instigating a resounding excitement within the crowd. During the small interval, once Sally bowed out of the spotlight, there was even a humorous moment, where one of the instruments was being tested, that the timing of the strings and tuning came at an instrumental introduction of a guitar on one of the rock songs being played. It was an oddly impatient moment for me, watching the road crew come back and forth, as it felt longer that it should have, and the tension and anticipation was incredibly overwhelming. I placed this down to it being the first concert of Poets of the Fall I had ever attended, on top of being the first concert I had paid for out of my own pocket!
However, the eagerness was worth the sensation, because once the crew disappeared and the lights were dimmed for the second time…the ball got rolling. Pete had settled behind me, as during the course of the opening act, more people had ventured in and found their place, so the room was literally crowded, with those on the top section looming in with a pack of vultures, waiting for something spectacular. Suddenly a robotic voice, as it introduced themselves as extraterrestrial life forms called the Jealous Gods, and the band in question had come to represent them. As their name was spoken, Poets of the Fall appeared, one by one – vocalist Marko Saaresto – with blackened facial make-up around his eyes, smudged in some areas; Olli Tukiainen and Jaska ‘Jake’ Makinen on guitars, Markus ‘Captain’ Kaarlonen responsible for keyboards and production, Jani Snellman on bass and Jari Salminen, drums.
There was only a brief verbal introduction – with Marko asking ‘Are you ready for some rock ‘n’ roll?!’, before the band dived straight into Daze, the opening track to the album. Like a switch, the crowd went from excited to enthusiastic, with a mix of bobbing heads, waving arms and the select few jigging, dancing and crying out. Because Jealous Gods had been released over a month before, with the promotional video premiering prior, lyrically, the crowd knew the song word for word. The same occurred withDiamonds for Tears, from their third album, Revolution Roulette (2008),Locking Up the Sun Kings of Fools, and Carnival of Rust from Carnival of Rust (2006) Late Goodbye and Shallow from their debut, Signs of Life(2005), Cradle in Love and Running Out of Time from Temple of Thought (2012) and of course, many from the new release – Rogue, Brighter Than the Sun, Nothing Stays the Same, Love Will Come Back to You, Hounds of Hamartia , Choice Millionaire and Jealous Gods after the band acknowledged that it had been many years and they’d finally got to the country to perform.
We were even allowed to join in with a few verses, choruses, and there was a recollection of bliss upon Marko’s face, being luckily enough to be as close as we (Pete and I) were to the stage. It was like he was appreciating the impact Poets of the Fall had, even within such a small, crowded country like the UK. There were even a few intimate moments, where Marko would mingle with some areas of the crowd as he sang, teasing us for a moment as he prepared himself for the ‘dive’.
It was after the interval, the band returning after finishing the concert ‘early’, and a few cheering and feet stomping, that Saaresto assured us all not to worry, ‘Marko ‘s here’, already, the facial make-up running down his face, from the sweat and enthusiastic hand movements of his performances, explaining in more detail how much it meant to him and the guys on how welcoming we all were, and one fan rightly put it ‘Aboutfucking time!’
I’ll agree, the atmosphere, the energy, they and the people crowded in the small venue gave out, were like they were home, and it helped the band openly be themselves on stage, like they had visited the city and the country many times. It was like that welcoming feeling of a public house regular coming into the same pub every other night, and everyone knows them, talking to them like an old friend. The room Pete and I ventured into, gave an illusion of being within a close knit of people, and despite us all being strangers to one another, there was a sense of a family unit being formed for those few, short hours we were in there. It also helped, that every now and again I felt him show affection from behind, the occasional kiss on the head and brief embrace (not at the right times, mind you, when the romantic Cradle of Love and Love Will Come Back to You were performed, but it was a lovely moment nonetheless), the entire time.
When Poets of the Fall announced the real end of their show, and walked off stage, everything I experienced faded like a form of hypnosis had been stripped away; as they were bowed out by the robotic voice that introduced them, thanking us all for attending as the main lighting returned and illuminated the room. It took everyone a while to really get to grips with the fact the show was over, and had to make their way out of The Underworld, like they were in a daze, almost. It was probably the dusky lighting; but upon ascending back up into the real world and the fresh, crispy air of the London city, a veil had been lifted; and the attendees reverted back to their own individual lives.
Despite there being a slight issue of a dripping pipe in the selective room Poets played, it was a very enjoyable, unforgettable night, and even though Pete Kent wasn’t a real fan, in the sense never properly listened to them before, and probably won’t again, he also really enjoyed it, and I noticed –as he would – he got into the flow of things!
It’s honestly very, very hard to really express the emotions I had during the concert, because there were so many to comprehend. It was inwardly shaking upon arrival, even more so when we were all nearing the entrance to the venue and incredibly so when Poets appeared for all the eyes to see, in person. They were no longer a still or moving image on a computer screen, they were no more a voice and instruments on a track record, they were there. And being given this opportunity, achieve it in a short space of time (two hours before tickets sold out) and to be able to experience that moment was incredible. It’s a very rare feeling for me, to get so emotional (even inwardly) about an event, and about a group or a person that is in the limelight. Because you never know when that moment will ever come again.
Even if you’ve never seen or heard of Poets of the Fall before, they are worth a listen, or worth seeing in concert and I thoroughly recommend them; because they are so charismatic, and overflowing with energy. Pete correctly describes them as progressive in style, and it’s not necessarily in their sound, but with their theatrics. They are worth the watch. And if you’re interested in neo-folk and love Bjork and CocoRosie, Dyr Sister is a recommendation too.