I was fortunate enough to be able to attend not one church concert but two: one in Lahti and the other in Tampere. Now some days have gone by since the concerts, but it’s still difficult to find words to describe them. It was something beautiful and magical to say the least, and special for being so different to everything else I had seen. It was such an experience.
When I arrived at Ristinkirkko in Lahti, a modern church, I could see its inside from the outside. I came there without hardly knowing anything about the concerts because I wanted everything to be a surprise, and what I saw, a very spacious church in the dark lit in deep red in the front, already made an impression on me. By that moment, though, I still wasn’t much aware of what I was attending to. Then I went inside the church, and while waiting in its hall I could see and hear a bit of the soundcheck. With this glimpse I started to realise that this was going to be indeed very special.
Doors opened a bit late because we had to wait for the light guy to finish checking lights. Once we were let in, the church got filled in no time at all. The atmosphere inside was already quite something, since we had to wait under a blue ultraviolet light until the concert started, so we were right into the concert mood long before it.
The first song was Ensimmäinen Joulu. I was so familiar with the metallish Raskasta Joulua version that it was hard for me to recognize the song. I had no idea it could sound so beautiful! The small instrumental intro already gave me chills, and when J. came and opened his mouth I was blown away. I think this was the perfect song to start the concerts.
Sitting there in silence, so close to J., doing nothing else than “watching” the music and listening to his voice so clearly was breathtaking. Also, even though I guess I should be used by now, he never ceases to amaze me. Seeing how he projects his voice live is f*cking impressive. Well, and not to mention the feeling he puts in his singing, the gentleness with which he sings this kind of music, his expression… After having listened to Ave Maria for over a year, it was great to finally see him perform the songs from the album (among others). Another thing that got me, is that this time I noticed a slightly different attitude towards the audience. It’s hard to explain… Let’s say he wasn’t singing to a whole, but to each one of us, so he transmitted a lot - more than usually, I mean.
|Timo Niemistö, Juho Kanervo & J.Ahola|
Anyway, shivers of emotion continued and didn’t stop until the end of the concert. My sight was also blurry many times, especially during the last part of the setlist, when they played all the songs from Ave Maria I find the most beautiful and touching: Ave Maria, Varpunen jouluaamuna, Sylvian joululaulu and Adagio. From these four songs, Adagio here was the one that moved me most by far. J. was only accompanied by Antti on the keyboards. The organ sound sounded so majestic and dramatic in the church, and J… wow, you could feel he was moved too - you could feel the emotion in his voice. I still get chills when remembering that moment.
When Adagio ended and the guys left the “stage”, I thought: ok, this is it. But then they came back and what they played was another big surprise. They played Ilouutinen, a song I only know through Raskasta Joulua. It sounded so different from what I’m used to and yet so cool. This arrangement, together with Me käymme joulun viettohon, were the arrangements that probably surprised me the most. Here we were asked to sing some notes (as the lyrics say), and it was a nice way to end the concert. Good song choice for a happy ending!
After the concert I was very happy about what I had just seen and heard. I loved how everything sounded, the arrangements, the choice and order of the songs, how the joyful and touching moments were combined thus making the experience even more lovely, the magical atmosphere the lights created… and I was even happier knowing that thankfully I was going to repeat on the next day.
Tampere’s concert was sold out and I didn’t know it until the very moment I arrived at Aleksanterin kirkko, when a woman came out and put a paper on the door. Great news! This time the waiting was outside, and since this church is a more traditional one, it had stairs and from there I could see people gathering in a long queue way before doors opened. Again, we had to wait a bit of extra time since it seemed the soundcheck got a bit delayed. Once in and sitting on the bench, I looked behind me and I was amazed to see the church full of people.
This concert felt of course a bit different because I already knew what was going to happen, but that didn’t make it any less special. Actually, the fact that J. was performing a sold out show in his hometown had its uniqueness too. On the other hand, Tampere was particularly moving. Along these two days I had been getting chills, teary eyes… but towards the end of this concert I couldn’t hold my tears back anymore. It’s just that these concerts were something beyond beautiful and I didn’t want them to end. But of course, all good things must always come to an end…
|Timo Niemistö & Juho Kanervo|
When Adagio ended there was a moment of a bit of confusion. After the applauses and the bows, some people started to stand up to leave. I guess they weren’t expecting an encore, just like me in Lahti, but I was there shocked, like… c’mon people! Ask for more! Luckily the confusion didn’t last long and eventually people reacted and started clapping. These last minutes were somehow bittersweet, though. Ilouutinen is happy and so was I (and an encore is Happy News indeed, like J. said), but at the same time I was sad. This made it even a bit hard for me to sing the audience part. Then, if it weren’t enough, when the song ended I was moved by the final applause (and cheers!) because I felt so proud of J. and what he had done. My thanks to him and the amazing musicians he sung with. They did something so beautiful and special I can’t really describe with words, and I’m very glad I could experience it twice.
To finish with, I want to end up saying that, in my opinion, how these concerts sounded was better than the Ave Maria album. I can’t find the right words to explain why, but it has to do with the fact that there were only 4 persons making music. I must also say that Timo Niemistö, Juho Kanervo and Antti Hakulinen’s playing was top notch. And the lights too! Everything. Everything was perfect. So, my congratulations to everyone involved in these unique events.
P.S. J.’s tambourine playing rocks! :D