Shiraz Lane has finally released their second full-length “Carnival Days”! That the album is quite rocking, is just simply a fact (for our review go here). About a week after the album was released their official release show took place at Nosturi in Helsinki, Finland and of course we had to be there for an evening of rock ‘n’ roll fun. As opener and support they brought along their buddies of Blue Eyed Sons, which only means that the evening will be kicked off properly…
In the mean time I’ve seen the Finnish vintage blues/psychedelic rockers of Blue Eyed Sons (***1/2) a few times and know that you’re always in for a good rockin’ when they play. First time I saw Blue Eyed Sons, they played as support for Shiraz Lane‘s “farewell show” just before they went to record their second album. Back then they really impressed me with their passionate and energetic show. I caught them some months later again, but this time as headliners at a small bar and despite the show being quite a bit smaller, it felt almost more passionate and energetic than before.
This time somehow something felt a bit “off” to me. Don’t get me wrong, they still brought their high quality bluesy rock with a big nod to bands like Led Zeppelin and The Doors with gusto. But the energy seemed not as revved up as before and the whole band felt somewhat distant from us. I don’t know if it was the Finnish Winter that got into them or if they had other things on their mind, but they didn’t seem fully “there”. We still got a nice warm up show with some very rockin’ music, even though the set was maybe a tad bit short and I kind of missed one of their covers of a Led Zeppelin song, because they do it so damn well.
Up to the main act of the evening to blow the roof off! Shiraz Lane (*****) promised us quite a few times to go beyond everything they’ve done before and with their sophomore album they already managed gloriously to accomplish this. Of course they had to bring a show matching the level of epicness that Carnival Days for the official release show. And that’s exactly what we got: an evening of hard rock partying where showmanship, positivism, musical talent and friendship played the main roles… Like the big names in the music business the show started of with a big drop down curtain reading “Welcome to the Carnival Days” and playing intro song Star City‘s We Built This City, showing us they were ready to bring a big show inspired by 80’s rock ‘n’ roll.
After the intro song ended, we got to hear a soundscape reminding us of a carnival (or circus) and the shapes of the guys started to show up behind the curtain. The mood properly set, the curtain dropped and they kicked off with the title track of their new album Carnival Days, immediately setting the bar high on energy! They continued with The Crown and one of my favorites of their latest release, Tidal Wave. That last one cranked up the energy even more and vocalist Hannes Kett clearly got a bit too excited, stumbling over his own feet… but just this moment shows how much these guys have grown in showmanship, because he rolled it off as if nothing had happened and always had meant to do that! Anyway, Tidal Wave should be the Summer hit of the year in my honest opinion and will get blasted over here on regular occasions!
Of course the main focus is on songs of Carnival Days, we still got some Shiraz Lane classics like Begging For Mercy, Wake Up and For Crying Out Loud as well. They can’t play them all, so I kind of missed tracks like Momma’s Boy and M.L.N.W. On the other hand it’s kind of cool that they played every single song of the new album live, not a lot of bands do this even on a release show… In any case, it was nice to hear that Gotta Be Real, the one track of the album that I wasn’t a big fan of, actually works out way better live for me than it did on record. Also their ballad Hope seems to be working really well live, especially when Hannes decided to ask the crowd to light up the room with their phones, what a wonderful mood at that moment!
The fact that they played every song of Carnival Days also fulfilled my biggest hope: that they would play their over 7 minute long track Reincarnation live! Starting off as a classical Shiraz Lane sounding rock track, they suddenly transition into a chunk of heavy metal with vocals that remind me of Rob Halford from Judas Priest to end up back at that starting sound, but not before they first light up the stage in bright red, green and yellow for a reggae bit… With Shangri-La they brought out the balloons for the crowd to bounce around and we got to hear a drum solo by Ana Wilman, who still reminds me somewhat of that other talented Finnish rock drummer Jussi 69, bringing a bit that sounded like a friggin’ Safri Duo song!
The guys ran off stage for a while, to of course show back up for a few encore songs. They brought oldie goldie Mental Slavery and opened up the registers one last time with new song People Like Us, pushing the last bits of smoke out of their cannons and adding the complementary confetti into the mix to end the night with an absolute blast! These guys are most definitely ready for the big stages and will hopefully set up shop somewhere near you this Summer, don’t miss out on them!
For more pictures, go have a look at our photo coverage here!