Rentukka Rock part two: Annie Mall, Alexander in Paris, and Risto (solo)

Annie Mall

Annie Mall’s rock music and the It-factor of lead singer Sini Peltokorpi kicked the night into full-on party mode. This Helsinki-based band are already reasonably well-known, as can be seen from the media coverage on their website. It’s not hard to see why they do well, because they put on a fantastic, energetic show and know how to rock the stage the way it should be done – in fact, I’m going to go with a cliche here and say that the stage was not big enough for the performance. If I get the chance to see them in a bigger venue I surely will do, and bring as many friends along as possible; It’s good to show your friends a good time.

This is the band that made the strongest positive impression on me from the whole night and boosted my energy levels to the point that I could make it all the way to the early hours and the end of the show. They put on a set that was almost pure rock, but I felt the need to link an extra video in their section, a session recording, to contrast my live recording. It really shows the depth of the band and their ability to create beautiful music as well as put on a powerful live performance. The richness of the vocals, both in the timbre of Sini’s voice and the harmonies provided by the backing singers, is particularly good to hear. And that beat

Annie Mall’s upcoming gigs are listed as:

5.4 VANTAA The Lane
6.4 LOIMAA Bar Edgar
12.4 HELSINKI On The Rocks
29.8 HAMEENLINNA Suisto-klubi
30.8 OULU 45 Special
14.9 KOTKA Backroom

Alexander in Paris

Melodic indie rock that would have a mainstream feel in the UK or USA, Alexander in Paris played a smooth set of melancholy tunes. Consisting entirely of pretty young men, the space in front of the stage was immediately populated by a crowd of female fans, with the male music fans largely relegated to the third row of spectators and beyond. Most of the band took a turn at singing, including the drummer, who has a highly pleasant voice. The performance was good quality, but not very daring and I found it to be the least memorable of all the bands from this night. The tracks sounded familiar, as though I had heard them played as background music in cafes and on car journeys, for the past decade. If I had to sum up this band in one word, it’d be “safe” – no risks taken, no unpleasantness, no alarms and no surprises.



I’m aware Risto is a big deal in Finland, and all of my Finnish friends think he’s the bee’s knees and all, but before I go into my review I feel I should relate my first experience of hearing Risto perform solo, some four years ago. It was upstairs in Bar Loose and the place was packed with excited onlookers. I was there with an international crowd of friends, the Finnish among us having recommended the gig highly. All I can say is that I did my best, but all I saw was someone mashing a keyboard dischordantly and repeating one word over and over on echo and calling it a ‘song’ in an attempy to be arty and ironic. The crowd seemed rapturous for it, and it eventually freaked me out enough to hide in the back corner of the room – where I found every other foreign-born person in the joint in an unhappy huddle. They’d given up on the ‘music’ long before me.

So to say I was dreading this headlining act would be putting it mildly.  I was expecting more of the same gimmicky, ironic not-music. Now I don’t know what has changed in the last four years, whether it is Risto or me, but I was rather surprised to find that I recognised nothing about this gig. It did not even compare to the last one I saw, to the point where I started to doubt that the artist I’d seen first was ever Risto at all. Surely someone who had been so awful couldn’t be enjoyable now. Have I simply become more Finnish? Was the previous gig a joke? Was I having SUCH a nice time in Jyväskylä that everything seemed wonderful to me?

Regardless of the reasons, it was a good gig and I am no longer able to claim that I dislike Risto, because I had a great time listening and dancing along with the rest of the crowd. I’m particularly happy about this, because the hostile looks I’ve received for admitting I’d seen Risto and not liked it in the past were a little unnerving. It’s terrible to disappoint a friend in such a way. If this was the artist they were thinking of, I can see why they thought I was crazy; it’s all okay now though, I have heard the other side of Risto and we’re cool.

All in all, Rentukka Rock was a great line-up, in a great venue, and I’d happily go there again if I find myself in Jyväskylä. They provide a puking urinal in the ladies’ loos, complete with instruction guide. What’s not to like about a bar like that?



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