Words & Pictures Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
A live show from Brother Firetribe is like a number 75 bus. You wait ages for it and then two come along in rapid succession. With a London show at the Borderline when the band were last over for the Rockingham Festival in October we’d assumed it would be a few years before we had the pleasure of their company again. Thankfully it wasn’t the case and with a short UK set up, the band return on the back of last year’s critically well received ‘Sunbound’ album.
When the band arrived on stage, it was smiles all around as they acknowledge the fact that people are back to see them so soon and that the venue is full. Intimacy is the name of the game and the stage sees Keyboards – Tomi Nikulainen and Drums – Hannes Pirilä squashed at the back with the usual suspects of vocalist Pekka Ansio Heino, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and bassist Jason Flinck shoehorned tightly at the front. So close in fact that Pekka has to duck and weave like the best of boxers at times to avoid Jason’s bass neck as it whirls around mid air.
None of it matters though as this is a tour, a real tour from a band that fans have been begging to come over and play for years. Four albums into their career and the shows to date have been one offs, showcase events or as part of a festival. Heck they only managed to do a full headline show in London for the first time last year.
The surge in interest in the band is down to two key factors. 1) Word of Mouth. There is no doubt at all that melodic rock lovers have stood up to be heard and shouted about this band from the highest of heights and people have listened. 2) Quality. Listen to any release from Brother Firetribe and you’ll instantly become a convert. The concept of ‘filler’, ‘crap album’, ‘maybe next time’ or similar simply doesn’t factor in with these guys. Fair play to the band for enduring, sticking to their guns and staying true to the cause from day one to now.
With the instrumental opener from ‘Sunbound’ paving the way for a night of rock, the following 90 minutes simply served to remind us just what we love about this band.
A smiling Pekka Ansio Heino, standing front and centre looks, as always, as if he’s having the time of his life at the gig as does bassist and fellow vocalist Jason Flinck. The pair trade vocals, smiles and with such a small stage to navigate, Jason almost gets to trade the neck of his bass with Pekka’s forehead so a quick ‘energetic bounce’ is rethought on health and safety grounds.
To Pekka’s left is Erno “Emppu” Vuorinen, on a break from Nightwish, another band he’s founded that you may have heard of? Behind them all the keyboards of Tomppa Nikulainen and Hannes Pirila’s drum kit. For a smallish stage, the band manage to pack in a lot of kit and with Jason’s bass being the only major hazard, they continue.
Hit after Hit is probably the wrong phrase to use right now but it will come of that I am certain. ‘Classic after Classic’ applies in spades and the new material like ‘Shock’ fits seamlessly against the older material like ‘For Better or For Worse’. Looking at the printed setlist, there were a few songs removed from the performance and the one that notably stood out and cut the deepest when I saw it was ‘Phantasmagoria’. The track with its wonderful ‘Top Gun’ like intro that expands into a five minute epic the likes of which the band has never performed before. To have heard it live would have been a dream but sadly it wasn’t to be. The same can be said of ‘Devil’s Daughter’ from the band’s debut and my hope is that if I mention it enough times in a review, one day, one day .. it will make it in!
Aside from personal favourites being omitted and let’s face it, to play all of the ones people were asking for, they’d have had to play a 4 hour set, it was a fabulous performance with ‘Taste of a Champion’ ‘Wildest Dreams’ and ‘I’m On Fire’ forming a ten minute trio of perfection.
They close with ‘Heart Full of Fire’ much to the joy of assembled fans and return for a single song encore and it’s just the one they need to prove their credentials once and for all…… ‘I Am Rock’. Yes you are.. come back soon. My only gripe… the lighting. It’s not great and the pictures suffer as a result of having to boost all of the settings…. Borderline next time please lads !