JOHN WETTON at STOA, Helsinki 12th September 1998

Originally Wetton was supposed to visit a record fair earlier in the day signing autographs etc. but he had cancelled it and instead they had Mike Monroe as a guest. I had hoped to have a chance to talk to Wetton already at the record fair because I had a message for him from Mick Box.

As it happens, Wetton is playing at 27th October in Munich, Germany and Heep are playing there exactly the same night at a place just a few blocks away from where Wetton is playing. Bernd Pleis, the president of Stay On Top, who lives in Munich, is trying to set up a meeting there with Heep and Wetton. I had promised Bernd to deliver the message.

I was disappointed at first to hear that John wouldn’t be at the record fair but this only meant that I would have to try after the concert. Mike Monroe was a good substitute, I was and still am a big fan of Hanoi Rocks and it was good to see him once again. He also played live there a few songs.

I went to see the concert with Jyrki Usva (a fellow Heepster On The Web) and his wife Tina. There were two support bands: Ritual from Sweden and Ageness from Finland. I hadn’t heard Ritual at all before, but they were pretty good, a kind of ”Led Zep meets prog rock”. The vocalist was very good, looked and sounded very much like young Robert Plant. Ageness also played well as always. For those of you, who do not know Ageness they are very much Genesis influenced prog rock band.

When Wetton came to the stage, my first impressions were: Is that really John Wetton? He’s old!!! He’s fat!!! All the publicity photos I’ve seen (including the ones on his latest album ‘Arkangel’) must have been taken a good few years before. As soon as Wetton started singing, I could tell that despite the somewhat changed image, the voice was still there. It was an acoustic concert, David Killminster was on guitar and Martin Orford on keyboards.

They started with Asia’s biggest hit ‘Heat Of The Moment’ and continued playing Asia, King Crimson, UK & Wetton’s solo material. During the concert in between songs some people were shouting and requesting their favourite songs. John just told them to ”keep their pants on” and wait. At the end of the concert he played the two ”most wanted” songs, ‘Nightwatch’ & ‘Starless’. They played for ca. 1h 20 min, 14 songs, here’s the set list:

Intro: Circle Of St. Giles
Heat Of The Moment (Asia)
Book Of Saturday (King Crimson)
Sole Survivor (Asia)
Piano solo by Martin Orford
Battle Lines
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (Asia)
Guitar solo by David Killminster
Easy Money (King Crimson)
30 Years (UK)
Hold Me Now
Rendezvous 6.02 (UK)
Nightwatch (King Crimson)
Starless & Bible Black (King Crimson)

It was a great concert, defitinely among the best concerts I’ve seen. Wetton’s voice sounded very good, I have several albums where he sings but I’ve never actually realized before what a great vocalist Wetton is. The other guy’s voices fit also well with his and there were some beautiful vocal harmonies throughout the concert. It was interesting to hear all those familiar tunes performed acoustically. This was a one-off concert arranged by the Finnish progressive rock organization ‘Colossus’ but when the proper European tour starts, Wetton will have a full band with him.

After the show we went backstage and he signed our ‘Arkangel’ cd’s. I showed him my Sea Of Light t-shirt and asked if he still remembers this band, he answered: ”Yeah, sure!” I told him the message I had and he seemed very interested in meeting Mick & Co. there, so I guess the meeting will take place.

Wetton seemed like a very nice guy, he was laughing and making jokes. Someone asked what his future plans were, and he replied: ”To go to bed”.

Tapio Minkkinen , September 12th, 1998