Concert Review: Korpiklaani at The Palladium in Worcester, MA
December 17, 2011
Reviewed by: Brian Cross
Korpiklaani’s Ukon Wacka North American Tour was winding down by the time they hit the Palladium, but you wouldn’t know it from the sheer energy given off by all of the bands on the bill. There was some serious metal to be found inside to warm one’s soul on a brisk winter’s night.
Forged in Flame took to the stage first. These newcomers combined stoner doom with a touch of early Danzig, and the audience were rapidly captivated. The band capped off their performance with a cover of Life of Agony’s “River Runs Red” (guest starring Admiral NoBeard from Swashbuckle). Judging by the strength of their performance, Forged in Flame has nowhere to go but up from here.
The circus train then rolled into town, and Polkadot Cadaver spilled out. That’s about as accurate an assessment of their musical style as you’re going to get. It’s difficult to pigeonhole Polkadot Cadaver, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; the band mixes metal with spacey effects, shouted choruses, a touch of indie rock, and creepy organ music. Polkadot Cadaver were the odd men out on this tour, but their performance was far from poor. The only stumbling block was their rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” This smelled a bit of the nu-metal obsession with covering Jackson songs in the late 1990s, and unfortunately, it didn’t sound much better.
The folk metal began in earnest with the appearance of Arkona. It was the Russian band’s last night on the tour, and they made the most of it with bagpipes and bodhrán in hand. Frontwoman Maria “Masha Scream” Arhipova alternated between traditional folk vocals and the bellowing roars of the rising dead, proving that her diminutive frame housed the spirit of a warrior born. She was backed up by pummeling rhythm section and a searing guitar attack…and did I mention the bagpipes? Let me reiterate that Arkona has a dedicated bagpipe player. That alone elevates their folk metal credibility into the stratosphere. Arkona’s performance was fantastic, and all should look forward to their triumphant return in spring 2012 on the Paganfest America III tour.
Finally, the wilderness clan from Finland that are Korpiklaani made their presence known. Opening with “Hunting Song,” the high-speed, high-energy track set the tone for the remainder of the evening. Vocalist Jonne Järvelä was genuinely pumped to be on stage, and his enthusiasm surged through the rest of the band and the entire audience. Korpiklaani is another folk metal band that loves traditional instruments; in this case, the accordion. Juho Kauppinen’s squeezebox was just as important as the guitars, if not more so.
Korpiklaani eschewed most of their slower pieces in favor of crowd-pleasing barnburners. The band sings many drinking songs, so it should come as no surprise that their set included favorites like “Vodka,” “Tequila,” and “Beer Beer.” (Try to guess what those are all about.) Most of their set list was taken from heir latest record Ukon Wacka, but Korpiklaani played plenty of older tracks like “Cottages and Saunas” and “Journey Man” to spice things up. Last but not least, like most of the other bands before them, Korpiklaani did play a few covers: “Juodaan Viinaa” (Hector) and “Iron Fist” (Motörhead), both of which practically set the venue aflame. Korpiklaani really knows how to rile up a crowd, and their set was a nonstop party from start to finish.
On a final note, folk metal bands are often pagan or lumped in with those beliefs. So, of course there was a guy in front of the venue passing out fake million dollar bills, which contained fine print telling us we were all going to hell if we didn’t convert to Christianity.
Somehow I don’t think this gentleman was very successful.