Located in central Helsinki, Finland
A small concert hall designed by Alvar Aalto, seats 1300
Other concerts over the years: Hendrix, Cream, Traffic, Mayall's Bluesbreakers, etc.
Blind Faith played at the Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki, Finland on June 12, 1969. Two performances were made at this unique and relatively small concert hall.
Recollections: Blind Faith in Helsinki †
The First Scandinavian Concert
Blind Faith did two concerts at Kulttuuritalo. The first started 8 pm and the second at 10 pm and the gigs were not sold out. Support band was Babylon, a British nine-piece jazz-soul group with a horn section and a male and a female singer. The band was pretty powerful and they did Spinning Wheel from Blood, Sweat and Tears.
After a 15-minute break Blind Faith was announced and the band started straight away as the curtains were raised. The first song was Well All Right. I remember still the sight of Ginger Baker with red hair flying as he thundered through the opening bars.
The equipment was the same as at Hyde Park (London, UK) some days earlier: two Marshall double-stacks on both sides of the drums. The amplification system was big by the 60ís standards. They had five speaker-cabinets on both sides of the stage. So the sound was good, Winwoodís vocals were clear and the drums were the loudest instrument.
First Performance Set List:
- Well All Right
- Sleeping In The Ground
- Sea Of Joy
- Under My Thumb
- Canít Find My Way Home
- Do What You Like
- Presence Of The Lord
- Had To Cry Today
Clapton stayed pretty close to his amps playing a sunburst Telecaster and during Sleeping in the Ground† even wandered behind† the stacks to get a cigarette to smoke during his tasteful blues solo. The strange thing about this concert was, that nobody knew what to expect. The album came out only a couple of months later. During the spring only hints of the music-style was revealed as Clapton told Melody Maker of their musical virtuosity. Under My Thumb was the only familiar song in the set. They might have played Trafficís Means To An End during the late gig of the night, but it wasnít done in the first set.
People kept shouting for Clapton, but EC got into Cream-like playing only when he did a pretty aggressive solo on Had to Cry Today. It tells a lot of those bygone days, that three of the most celebrated musicians of that era were performing and none of them took the easy way out. It would have been so easy for Clapton to do a five-minute master-solo and get the audience on their feet or for Winwood to sing one of his former hits. I think these guys were ahead of their times, and tried to get away from the virtuoso-bullshit, that had hit the rock-scene after Cream and Hendrix changed the 60ís pop-world into a bluesrock-world.
I feel still very grateful, that I was there to see this band do a perfect version of the song that for me is Blind Faith: Sea of Joy. A beautiful song, that was so much more powerful live, Claptonís guitar and Stevieís organ blended beautifully and Bakerís drumming was just unbelievable. Swing and power so effortlessy executed. And of course, Ric Grech had his moment with a violin solo.
Under My Thumb was a bit under-rehearshed, but Canít Find My Way Home was great with stylish improvisation from EC and Stevie. Do What You like was next, Ericís solo didnít get off and Ric certainly wasnít used to soloing in 5/4, but of course Ginger was and this was when we got our share of virtuosity. The audience greeted Ginger as the star of the show. Presence of the Lord was played with emphasis on the melody, that Winwood sang so beautifully. The band returned for the only loud song of the evening as Clapton cranked the volume up for Had to Cry Today. And then it was over. A gig, that was a great surprise for most people: No Cream songs, no Traffic songs, just beautiful music played in a very relaxed way. I still feel that this band shouldíve stayed in small concert halls and developed their music further.
For me it was the first main concert I ever saw. I was a fifteen year old teenager and it was only years after I realised that I had witnessed these famous musicians in a very delicate phase of their careers.
†I had a habit of listening to a tape of this concert on anniversaries of the gig. Alas, I've lost the tape and the Gothenburg-bootleg is very close. I still feel the Helsinki performance sounded better, but maybe thatís the fondness of my youthful memories.