On Saturday night, November 15th, I was waiting for a bus in Helsinki centre with other rock’n’roll/rockabilly fans. We were heading Hyrylä, which is a population centre rather near to Helsinki. There at a bar called Crazy Kaiffari was a party that I had been looking for. Tickets were sold out, so during evening it was nice to meet many mates; even a nice couple from Germany. Before bands and on breaks DJ Little Mickey Finn took care of music. Rock'n'roll Night is a continuous series of parties, this was party number six. There have been also many international guests, including England. On that night two great bands, The Matchbox and The BopCats were on fire.
The first band on stage was The BopCats. It’s a Finnish band, which was originally formed in 1979. From that first line-up guitarists Utsi Uusitalo and Mico Jansson are still aboard. The other two members are drummer Ari Eerola (joined in 1982) and upright bass player Don Carlos, who joined in 2001. So these guys are not born yesterday either. I had seen this band on stage a couple of times before and already from the first tunes I heard from them, I liked their way. Band has released also a few albums.
On that night we accordingly saw on stage a trio instead of four guys, but anyway band worked out brilliantly – from two guitarists only Utsi was present. We heard for example Bopcat Baby, Skiffleboard Blues, Jump Higher, Stringo and Sweetie Pie from band’s own production and Wa-Chic-Ka-Noka (Love - Numm - Cottle), I Fell In Love (H. Hodson), Mean Little Mama (Sam Phillips), Alabama Shake (J. McClung), Fairlane Rock (Thompson), Koala Bear (Collins - Devlin) and many other captivating songs. I like BopCats’s style to play, it’s not too complicated but still very enjoyable and refreshing.
Then after a break it was time for The Matchbox. I have seen also them already several times on stage, but it’s always good to see such a living legend in serious action. I think I wouldn’t need to introduce this band, but anyway I say, that Steve Bloomfield (guitar, vocals), Gordon Scott (guitar, vocals), Fred Poke (bass, backing vocals) and Jimmy Redhead (drums, harmony vocals) elicited a stir when they got up on stage even though they have been many many times in Finland during past decades. Matchbox was originally formed back in 1971 with a line-up that included both Steve and Fred, Graham joined in 1977 and so did Gordon. Jimmy joined a bit later.
Opening number of The Matchbox was Chuck Berry’s Promised Land. After a few more songs also Graham Fenton (vocals) joined them. Beat was strong all the time with songs like Marie, Marie (Dave Alvin), Rockin’ at the Ritz (Campi), Teenage Boogie (W. Pierce) and Cruisin’ (Vincent - Davis). At one point Graham disappeared from stage just to return a bit later back in his black leather jacket and gloves. We heard also Matchbox classics like Rockabilly Rebel, Buzz Buzz a Diddle It (one of my special favourites) and Midnite Dymanos, all written by Steve Bloomfield. Also from his pen were songs Babes in the Wood and Love is Going Out of Fashion. Then Graham disappeared again and came back later again in his white classy jacket. In the end there was a medley of songs including Old Black Joe, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ on, Little Queenie, Tulane, Oh Carol and I`m Comin' Home.
Afterwards I was one of the lucky ones from audience to get to backstage, which was interesting – not my first time at backstage, but definitely the first time with The Matchbox. I had a chat there with Gordon and Jimmy and told them, where I had seen them earlier, what I thought of the show and so on. Later I also talked with Graham. They, I and some others were at that time outside at bar terrace. But sadly everything comes to an end sooner or later, so it was time for me to go to bus and back home to Helsinki. A great, thrilling, even a bit nostalgic night!