Concert Review: Tarot
Location: Henry’s Pub; Kuopio, Finland
December 26th, 2013
Official Tarot Websites:
FC Kempes Website:
Mention Nightwish and Marco Hietala to metal fans around the world and you will get people exclaiming the greatness of Nightwish/Marco and all their accomplishments. Mention the band Tarot to metal fans outside of Finland or parts of Europe and you may not always get a lot people knowing who the band is. So for those who are unaware, Tarot is the Finnish metal band formed in the mid-80’s by brothers Marco and Zachary Hietala and are credited as the band that was largely responsible for making heavy metal THE music of Finland for our current times.
Tarot’s debut album ‘Spell of Iron’ was the album that ushered in this age of metal in Finland. As a result, this album and the band themselves are highly regarded here in Finland. As time went one Tarot released several albums and while they continue to do things they never reached a GLOBAL status that they really deserved. Also, with Marco getting recruited by Nightwish in the mid-2000’s also limits the time allocated to Tarot projects and tours.
So when there was a Tarot show announced for the day after Christmas, which also happened to be the first show for the band in 2013 and also the last, you can imagine it is kind of a big deal. Especially when the show is in the bands hometown of Kuopio. As Tarot live shows are rare for the residents of Finland you can imagine how rare of an opportunity it is for a guy like me who is from Tennessee the land of Country Music. So I reached out to some people and thanks to the local football (soccer) club FC Kempes who sponsored the show, I was allowed to cover the show and photograph the event.
Again this show was held at Henry’s Pub which is the venue here in Kuopio for live metal shows and as a photographer it is always a challenge for me to shoot here sometimes. Fortunately, I was allowed to arrive before the doors open and so I made sure I positioned myself as best as possible. I got to meet members Janne and Pecu of the band before the show started and we sat and talked for several minutes about the history of the band, Marco’s tryout of Iron Maiden back when they were looking to replace Bruce in the 90’s, when Janne joined the band, Pecu showing me a photo of his AWESOME looking new drum kit he would be picking up the next day and Zachary telling me about wearing a Tarot shirt with a picture of a pig on it. Ha-ha. Always great talking to the guys.
So after our talks the band went to prepare for the show, the doors opened and the crowd came in…And by come in…I mean they packed the place out. Sold out show all the way. As show time drew closer the fans began to clap and chant and due to HIGH demand the band had to of course come on stage and perform right??? And here they came!
Tarot being veterans of the metal scene unleashed hell on the crowd. The fans loved it, Marco’s vocals sounded great while being complimented by Tommi’s vocals, Zachary’s lead guitar work is always top notch and he is always going crazy while playing, while Pecu’s drumming was bombastic and precise and Janne’s keyboards adding a nice smooth sound to the band to compliment Zachary’s metal sound.
Mixed in with Tarot original songs were two Black Sabbath songs, ‘Black Sabbath’ and ‘Children of the Grave’ which were covered fantastically especially with Marco giving crazy facial expressions to the crowd while playing the songs. In fact…Marco gives a lot of crazy facial expressions in a lot of songs, so they aren’t really exclusive to Black Sabbath tunes! If I had to say anything negative about the set list I would say they didn’t include ‘Ashes to the Stars’ which I always found to be an excellent song but hey you can’t fit everything in a set list but the rest were fantastic.
Sound wise the band sounded tight and on the mark, though I noticed it was extremely loud. Normally when I listen to bands I do wear plugs however I did not have any available for this show but even at these times the shows here in Finland are mixed really well and usually there is almost no need to have plugs. For some reason though when I was listening this night I felt my brain get smashed to the back of my skull and at times I really felt disoriented from the sonic assault. But then again this is HEAVY METAL BABY! Play it LOUD and PROUD!
The band closed out with ‘Wings of Darkness’ which is the song that started it all and it went over with the crowd superbly and was a great song to finish the set with. After the show, band members came on stage and spoke with fans and shook hands while they were putting up their equipment. I find this a great thing as some bands seem to think doing such things is beneath them. Marco now also being in Nightwish and being literally THE face of metal here in Finland could easily not associate with fans anymore in the way he does but still he takes the time to be a part of the metal/music community. I find this very refreshing to see and that he doesn’t think he is now at a level he can forget about the people who have helped him along the way. I didn’t get to speak to Marco this night but did get to interview him this past summer at the Tuska Festival and he is really a very nice and down to earth guy who took the time to talk to a guy from Tennessee who isn’t part of a big media outlet. To me, people and bands like Marco and Tarot are the type of musicians the metal genre needs instead of ones that want to charge $1000 just to get a photo with them.
Tarot put on a great show for their fans with a rare live performance and did not disappoint whatsoever and the fact that the members stay true to their roots makes such a night an even more special occasion.
*There was a certain new singer from Nightwish lurking around in the crowd and taking the time to talk to fans as well. I want to wish you all the best in your future endeavors with Nightwish and ReVamp! It was nice seeing you again and I hope to see you on tour again!