City, сountry: Åbo, Finland
Location: Venus Nightlife
Web: Grease Helmet
Just two days ago, we have seen with Reckless Love at "Apollo Nightclub" how a rock concert in an ordinary nightclub can look like: A potentially great club atmosphere gets lost due to a venue which is way too big and thus appears quite empty. Tonight, something similar seems to be on the agenda: The lesser known Grease Helmet are going to play in the vast rooms of the newly opened nightclub "Venus Nightlife" which enriches the nightlife in Finland's oldest city and former capital Åbo [in Finnish: Turku] since September 2012...
Grease Helmet, that's the Rock'n'Roll project which is everywhere promoted as the new band from Hanoi Rocks' guitar legend Andy McCoy. In fact, it was vocalist Jere Garcia and Amorphis bassist Niclas Etelävuori who set up the project in October 2009 in Finland's capital Helsinki before Amorphis drummer Jan Rechberger, Amoral's Ben Varon (Rhythm Guitar) and Andy McCoy (Lead Guitar) joined the combo. To use the name of the most known member in order to bring the band on everyone's lips isn't the worst idea in terms of marketing strategies. "Grease Helmet (feat. Andy McCoy)" instead of simply "Grease Helmet": Yes, that makes sense in the battle for attention which is quite tough anyway, especially for bands who are not that known (yet). Absolutely. But to only write "Andy McCoy" on the agenda and banners of the nightclub's webpage isn't a clever marketing strategy anymore; it simply ignores the band Grease Helmet and its other four band members. It's a pity, especially since tonight's event has more to offer than one guy who is sitting alone on stage, playing guitar...
The concert of "Andy McCoy" takes place on the upper floor of the excellently-kept nightclub. This area is called "Venus Live", and after the usual nightclub music has been played, the gig starts with wailing sirens. Grease Helmet enter the stage and a big part of the nightclub visitors is getting closer to the scene. Especially in front of the right side of the stage, there is immediately a cluster of people which pulls out their smartphones and photographs and films like crazy. Yes, it's Andy McCoy who is located on the right side of the stage, apparelled with a loose-fitting America shirt-blouse. If this very guy wouldn't be Andy McCoy, especially the eyes of the female attendees would be rather focused on the left side of the stage; on Niclas Etelävuori and especially Ben Varon. Ironically, the latter is standing on the very left side, more or less in the dark. Jan Rechberger stands out at least a bit with his Union Jack shirt while he tortures his drum kit, but even frontman Jere Garcia has problems to draw the attention while songs like "Sold Our Soul", "Shotgun", "Second Try" and the second current single "Nobody Rides For Free" from the self-titled debut album "Grease Helmet" are performed. "All eyes on Andy", even if Jere plays the harmonica. Just in the middle of the set, there is a temporary turn: Fitting to the line "Shaking my boots and looking for my money", Jere raises a cowboy boot into the air and animates the audience to sing the chorus of "No Rocket In My Pocket" on their own and to clap along. A very felicitous performance which is followed by tracks such as the first single "Keep Your Helmet Greasy" and later encores like "Bigger Than Rock'n'Roll".
It's probably a simple fact that almost every musician who shares the stage with Andy McCoy is more or less automatically outshined by the guitar hero. It's the same during the shows of Pelle Miljoona Oy, a band which is (currently) way more known in Finland than Grease Helmet but shares the same guitarist: Also there, hardly anyone follows what the eponymous frontman Pelle Miljoona and the other musicians are doing on stage; everyone is spellbound by the way Andy plays his guitar - and everyone goes wild each time he mumbles something unintelligible into the microphone. It's unfortunate, especially for the other musicians on stage, but it doesn't derogate the concert experience itself. Not a bit. Quite the contrary: The combination "rock concert in the vast rooms of an ordinary nightclub" works - at least tonight - quite well, especially since there is a lot going on in front of the stage. And after the show, only songs from the rock and metal genre are played (e.g. Lordi, Rammstein and Garbage), so you are more than willing to stay until the "Valomerkki" [Finnish for: "Light Signal"] - and to come back one day. To a concert of Grease Helmet as well as to the venue "Venus Nightlife"...
Photos by Adrian Nysand