The uncommonly sultry weather continues in Helsinki, so Clash takes in a few sights before heading towards the festival: the remarkable timber-structured Chapel Of Silence, and the covetously cool shops in the design district. We’re unanimously inspired by the desire to come back to this stylish city at our leisure.
It’s too hot to stand still, so we ease ourselves in by sitting on the grass listening to the New York sounds of Tim Sweeney. Unsurprisingly he gets a serious groove on, and inspires high hopes for the evening. The Other Sound stage has consistently displayed exceptional artists, so we’re curious to see Finnish band Lau Nau. They play experimental yet trad-based indie-folk melodies, which are by turn drone based, fragile and naïve, transfiguring into something harder, almost atonal, created from indigenous stringed instruments, bells, kazoos and loop pedals with shadow puppetry being projected live on stage. The entire effect in this seated hot space is to send us into near dreamlike rapture. We only feel these sonambulant effects for a very short time.
My Bloody Valentine are not the loudest Clash has ever heard them, but they’re possibly the sweetest. Playing to a packed Nokia Blue Tent, we're entranced by a seamless succession of songs from both 'Loveless' and their latest album, 'm b v'. It feels nostalgic and near hallucinatory in the heat. Everyone feels giddy as we head across to the Black Tent to see the UK’s Factory Floor. There’s a surprisingly small crowd, but many people we speak to in Finland haven’t yet heard of them, which is sure to change. Their set is a propulsive, blistering wall of noise taken from their forthcoming, DFA-released debut album. More accessible in sound that their industrial beginnings or collaborations with Chris & Cosey, this is New York heatwave, 99 Records, delirious dancing under broken fire hydrants music. It’s brilliant.
We have to rush across to the main stage to catch the lion’s share of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. He has become messianic, practically walking into the crowd, clasping hands to his breast. The version of ‘Higgs Boson Blues’ is a mastercraft in performance; charismatic just doesn’t cover it. ‘Stagger Lee’ is malaevolently magnificence; ‘Into My Arms’ near tear inducing. Saint Nick has blown every other band we’ve seen these last two days away. We’re in seriously mixed musical company, yet everyone agrees that this show is incredibly special, and that words can't capture the magic. So we won’t try further.
We’re all so buzzing that we're not sure where to go next. A colleague suggests Ebo Taylor & Odapajan, the Ghanaian band playing on architectural prize-winning Balloon Stage. They’re a revelation of classic afrobeat played impeccably. People are literally dancing themselves into a trance.
The entire evening has been narcotic, like we’ve stumbled through the poppy fields from the Wizard Of Oz. Over half a dozen people we speak to, exiting the site, claim this to have been the most sublime four hours of live performance they've ever seen. It would be churlish to disagree.
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Words: Anna Wilson
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