September 19, 2003
Being in bad need of a good shot of R'n'B and Rock'n'Roll, I winged my way up north again to witness some memorable gigs of Finland's best (even though the Hurriganes seem to be a finnish institution, they come in only second. But this is not a fair comparison ... for the Hurriganes). Doctor's Order had a lineup change this year with Dirty Harry replacing The Madman. Of course I was extremely curious to see the new drummer at a gig. Especially so, since I'd heard the current lineup on the soundboard series only.
Also, if you follow the band from their first recording *Doctors In Disguise" through to "The Real Thing" and the two "Soundboard"-recordings, you've seen the band evolve. And not for the worse, I might add. They seem to be more refined every time there's a new recording. So it was to be, that yours truly spared no expenses to bring you the latest and best in R'n'B and Rock'n'Roll to these pages.
The drummer aka Dirty Harry
While listening beforehand to the soundboard series, I had this strange idea, that Harri must be interested in Jazz one way or the other. He just sounded like a drummer who'd feel comfortable in a Swing or Bebop band. What I hadn't expected was a Rock'n'Roll drummer who might have been pals with the Animal from the Muppets Show. Don't get me wrong, Harri is an all around nice guy, I'm talking about his drumming here! This is not the beginner's course in drumming, mind you. The drumming is imaginative and full of ideas. This is very clever craftmanship. A bit like a painter having a go at the big picture.
Why is Dirty Harry on good terms with the Animal then, I hear you ask: Well, both of them seem to hit the living daylights out of their equipment. Maybe, that's what a Rock'n'Roll drummer is supposed to do. Balancing the need between driving the music along, bringing own ideas into the songs and just plain and simple, making a ruckus. Harri does all that and quite a bit more. And, yes, he's into 50's Swing (among other things).
The guitar player aka Lil' Archie
If I talk about evolving, I really think about Archie first. Evolving in the way, that he takes much more liberty with his part in Doctor's Order. It was already apparent on their second release "The Real Thing", how much the guitar playing had changed. Of course, being the guitar player in a trio, you're bound to come up with some ideas. There's no one you can hide behind. Naturally, this is true for all members of the band.
Archie seems to have gone from "no frills" guitar playing to a very entertaining style of his own. If you liked Doctor's Order around "Doctors In Disguise", you will come along for the ride now as well. That is to say, the changes might be subtle but they're there. And it's still the kind of music associated with Doctor's Order.
The bass player aka The Teddy Bear
The bass seemed to have been mixed more to the fore on the soundboard series than on the previous studio releases. I also had this idea, when listening to the band on stage. The bass seems to feature much more prominently. Teppo doubles also as the singer, bringing you the tales of being a Rock'n'Roll fanatic, about slow bartenders and booze and what else there is in life. His gravely voice suits the music and songs just fine. There is enough power to get the message across. And across it comes!
I've just asked myself what would be more important to a singing bass player, the bass or the vocals? The obvious answer would be, they're equally as important. But somehow, I think, bass playing is being relegated into second rank as the singer must be much more aware of the lyrics. On the other hand, he can't lose the rhythmic connection with the drummer either. I stand to be corrected!
The harmonica player Kai Erik Ensio Takamäki
Unfortunately, Ensio is playing just a few gigs a year with Doctor's Order. I believe, this is mainly in and around Helsinki. It's a somewhat different band when Ensio takes the stage with the band. Wether as a foursome or as a trio however, each incarnation of the band sounds great in its own way. Try to see the band in either line up, you'll see/hear what I mean by different band. Of course, he can be heard on all the studio releases of Doctor's Order as well as on the "Soundboard Series Vol. 2".
Fantastic! I could close this now, bid you goodbye and be gone, because, really, all is said with that one word. But, I'm sure you want to know, just why it was fantastic! The gig in Espoo was special, because it was one of those rare occasions when Ensio joined the band. It was also the only time "I've Heard It Before" was being played during one of these gigs. Thanks Ensio for being there, really enjoyed it seeing you with the band again!
The gigs between Rauma and Uusikaupunki were all played as a trio without the harmonica man. Besides good music, Doctor's Order have quite an entertaining act. Watch them on stage, among the punters or playing on the tables. The only one staying back there is Dirty Harry with his drum set. The songs from "The Real Thing" that are worked into the live set, seem to make the whole gig somewhat lighter. There are also a few cover songs which fit the band nicely. Still, this is an original band and you get the covers as a sort of supplement only.
A few new songs (not yet recorded) were already built into the set. "Motormouth" is a great song and so are the others. Of course, Doctor's Order has a big enough repertoire to change the set around when they play two gigs at the same place, as you can see below. The gigs went well down with the audience in all places. A peculiarity in Finland seems to be, that, no matter how much the folks enjoy a gig, they don't call for an encore (a few exceptions being the rule). If a band announces the last song, it better be the last one.
The gig in Rauma was a private party and I want to thank our hosts for having me there. I drank their booze, ate their food, slept at their place and got breakfast cooked by the man whose birthday party that was. Kiitos to you and your charming wife!
A special thank you
goes to Dirty Harry, Lil' Archie and The Teddy Bear for having me on the
road with them. Hope to see you again! And to all of you who are wondering
why the title of this is "No Sleep 'til Helsinki", I'm having a brain drain.
Can't remember! Honestly!
The Second Gig In Uusikaupunki