To celebrate twenty years of existence, Swallow the Sun are doing “20 Years of Gloom, Beauty and Despair” tour. In Finland, their tour consisted of a two set evening. The first set, playing the second album of the Songs from the North trilogy called “Beauty” in its entirety acoustically and accompanied by a string quartet. The second set was somewhat “by request” from the fans. In December, the band asked across social media, for fans to vote for one song from each album they would want to hear live. The setlist did consist of some songs that haven’t been played in a long time, but also surprisingly, a few songs they had been playing live often, and as recent as their last tour. They will continue the tour to North America in April, and I wonder if and how they might tweak the setlist.
I had seen the show in Turku, on the second day of the tour, just as an attendee. The venue was a lot more intimate than the one in Helsinki, and you could tell the band was still getting the hang of the arrangements for the acoustic set (as well as some of the songs from the second set) which also added to the intimacy, in a way. Not only was the band seemingly more at ease, and comfortable with the show in Helsinki, the string quartet also seemed more confident and able to get into the music more. Although I could tell the difference a few more shows made in the confidence and smoothness of the gig, both nights were equally amazing and unforgettable.
During the first set, the stage was alight with warm bulbs hung and places around the stage. There wasn’t much extra stage lighting so the ambiance was dark and almost ethereal. The guys were dressed up a bit, classy jackets and hats, only Juha had his hood up but it barely covered his face. It was a very unique experience for all attendees, no matter how well you knew the bands music, but it was extra special, and quite emotional, for fans who have been following the band for many years or have a deeper appreciation for the band and their music. I noticed those warm lightbulbs gleaming in many teary eyes and wet faces. The audience was completely enthralled in the charming, intimate gloom of “Beauty“.
The second set was no less unique of an experience than the first, specially the songs that haven’t been played often. I won’t list them here, (although the setlist is searchable elsewhere), but the energy during a few of the songs was so raw and tangible I found myself taking a deep breath after they ended, as if I had forgotten to breathe for a while. I have seen Swallow the Sun quite a few times in the past few years and the air of this evening held something different than the others. The guys all seemed to be into the music on a different level than ever before. The addition of Jaani’s vocals to a few of the older songs gave me chills. Juho and Matti’s energy and interaction with the crowd, Mikko and Juha’s more stoic presence, and Jaani and Juuso’s smooth vibes all concocted a beautiful, geniuine atmosphere that no photo or video could capture (speaking of which, it seemed they were recording the show for something, there were cameras and extra microphones around the stage and in the audience… what is to come?) but that being said, here are a few photos from the evening.
Dates for upcoming North American tour: