While pop’s preening, plastic vanguard were quaffing Champagne at the Brits, something was stirring in a Newcastle basement. Stirring, then roaring headfirst into life.
For this six headed beast from Finland, daubed in red and black warpaint, really knows what it takes to put putting power, passion and pride into music. Beyonce, Katy Perry et al might be accustomed to selling out arenas… but when it comes to producing exhilarating, stadium class, fist pumping anthems, few acts can match Turisas.
Would the folk/Viking/battle metallers’ devoted fans want to watch them from the back end of Wembley though?
And in the more intimate surroundings of Newcastle University Students’ Union, the Finns were able to hold the audience in the palms of their sweaty hands, raising horns and raising the roof in the process.
Chicago’s Starkill, touring with Turisas across Europe, were never going to eclipse the headliners then, but the quartet still received a rapturous response.
Performing a tasty blend of thrash and symphonic death metal, the young act won over many new fans with their enthusiasm, deft lead work and sheer love for their craft, which spilled out over tracks like Sword, Spear, Blood, Fire, culled from 2013’s debut, Fires Of Life. Expect big things.
Speaking of which, you won’t find choruses much bigger than that which explodes over Turisas’s bombastic opener, Ten More Miles, or tunes as towering as the magnificent crowd pleaser To Holmgard And Beyond, delivered with such aplomb at this show.
Yes, Turisas are a bit daft, and will probably leave many a po-faced pagan distinctly stoney faced. But whatever your opinion of the sextet’s rabble rousing, booze fuelled metal, it would be very hard to resist the charms of charismatic frontman and founder Mathias Nygård, for very long – especially on this form. And their ‘Stop. Hammer Time’ t-shirt, bearing an ornate Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer, for you non-Vikings), is just a hoot.
For long term acolytes, it’s no surprise that this felt like more of a party than a gig, with plenty of beer being spilled to old faves like Battle Metal and Rex Regi Rebellis, as well as newer fare such as We Ride Together… a celebration of the band’s kinship with their fans.
There was even time to hear some lengthier, rarely aired gems such as Miklagard Overture. ‘Epic’ simply wouldn’t do that song justice.
And of course, if you’re going to have a party, you might as well top it off with a dancefloor classic. So that’s exactly what Turisas did, Olli Vänskä’s violin-via wah-wah pedal folk funk introducing one of the best covers in the history of music… a full-on, barn storming metal version of Boney M’s disco hit, Rasputin.
Ok, the TV nation may well have been enraptured by Ellie Goulding’s dress, or Pharrel William’s strut, but this was where the real fun was to be had. For on this night, the Finns – and their many English friends – were partying like it was 799.