Five-Fifteen featuring Nik Turner: Tavastia Club, Helsinki 13th January 2000
From Aural Innovations #10 (June 2000)
The Tavastia Club is Helsinki's premier rock venue - a showcase for bands from all over Finland and Sweden. As part of a series of shows recorded for Finnish TV, Five Fifteen, a seven-piece group from Finland, were joined by special guest Nik Turner.
Mika (guitar/vocals), leader of Five Fifteen, is a big Who fan. That's evident not only in the name of the group, but in his Roger Daltrey hairdo and his penchant for Pete Townshend windmilling power chords. So, naturally enough, the set started with a solid version of "Baba O'Reilly", and continued with selections from Five Fifteen's recent albums, SIX DIMENSIONS OF THE ELECTRIC CAMEMBERT and PSYCHEDELIC SINGALONGS FOR STADIUMS. They've got a groovy 60's psych-sound; think Airplane with three guitars.
The band seemed a little tense to start with, perhaps a result of the TV cameras (of which there were several, including one on a 4-metre crane!), and the stage lighting, which was designed with TV in mind, meant they might have had trouble even seeing the audience. However, all tension ebbed away as a familiar saxophone started to play, and Nik made his way through the crowd and onto the stage.
Nik immediately became the center of attention, in his black tie and tux, and black wrap-around shades. He's lost none of his stage presence since his days in the frog suit. And his sax and flute patterns matched Five Fifteen's groove perfectly.
The set climaxed with a storming version of the Hawkwind classic "Hassan I Sahba" - the three guitars, bass, keys, drums and vocals, plus Nik's sax, giving it a very full and lush sound. The encore, perhaps inevitably, was "Silver Machine" - inevitable because it's also Five Fifteen's current single (in a very heavy version featuring Nik). All the Finnish crowd seemed to know at least the chorus!
For Five Fifteen, that was the end of the show. But Nik has always been reluctant to call it a night, and so he returned, solo, and explained that even though he'd just cut his lip in a backstage collision, he'd play some more... starting with one of his busking favorites, Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther Theme." Which was followed by "Master of the Universe."
Now, I'd always thought that number was all about Dave Brock's furious riffing, but Nik's version, sax and vocals (but not simultaneously!), all three verses, with enthusiastic handclapping accompaniment, was simply the best fun I've had a gig for a long while. And if that wasn't enough, he followed it up with "Brainstorm..."
By which time, it really was time to end the show. Those of us who were lucky enough to join the band afterwards were also treated to a rough mix of Nik's (hopefully soon) forthcoming album with his Fantastic All-Stars, an energetic funk/ska/latino workout to be called KUBANO KICKASSO. Watch out for it! The show is due to be broadcast in April. Videos may be available...
Reviewed by Andy Gilham