All the reality felt like the fabric of fantasy when The 69 Eyes were finally announced for this year’s EXIT festival, just like the sweetest treat after almost a year spent in a desert with no 69 gigs. Days in my mental calendar were deleted slowly, until that wonderful morning came, and guess what – I was already in Novi Sad at 5 a.m. sporting my usual “nothing’s gonna make me stop” glance and sophisticated black attire to match perfectly with it. Hours melted away until it was time to head with my friend Olga to Petrovaradin fortress, as it stands magnificently above Danube, the perfect setting for the magic The Eyes were going to spread over this part of Balkans.

Close to 10 p.m. I entered backstage to do an interview with Jyrki. I felt blessed seeing him and Timo, Bazie, Jussi and Archzie again! It is truly an endless purgatory not having this perfect feeling every now and then, a glance to their beautiful faces and winds of their melodies is enough to fill the void, to give me substance… At the same time, Nightwish was performing on EXIT, but it didn’t really matter to me, I would be here on Explosive stage for the Eyes even if there was 1000 Nightwishes on another stage.
My gratefulness to Jyrki for this interview will never escape my heart. When I left the tent I was like hypnotised, and I joined my friends in front of the stage.

Crowd was slowly gathering to the Explosive stage, where something truly magical was about to happen. Fans also got a glimpse of almost all the Eyes before the show, whether when they got off the van, or Bazie checking out the guitar, Timo lurking around, Jussi’s haircut peeking from the drumset. At five to midnight, the ritual began! The enchanting “Cry Little Sister”, which seems to correspond to my heartbeats, the fog, the dark… and when they entered the stage it was like nothing ever existed between that moment and the moment when the last gig ended. Nothing really matters, behind the shades of blue…

They kicked off yet another incredible set with “Devils”, followed by oh my: “Crashing High”! I so loved hearing that song live since it was really weird, I kept listening to that particular song before Exit, over and over again… It will always remind me of Helsinki, but now another dimension was added to it. As I was in the first row, I couldn’t really see what was happening behind me, but the voices were strong and it felt like an army of thousands! You could see on Jyrki’s face that he was sort of mildly surprised at such a wild response, and as he said in the interview, they don’t really know what’s going on here, what kind of response would they get. But when “Perfect Skin” broke out into a real choire on Exit, the answer was clear – this gig is going to be remembered!

And it was just the start of the performance. “Brandon Lee” followed, “Gothic Girl”, “Rocker”, and Jyrki gave thrilling intros to each one of the songs, so for “Ghost” he said they were happy to perform on such a place, such a castle, and “everybody knows that castles are filled with ghosts…” “Feel Berlin” was conveniently dubbed “Feel Exit”, “The Chair” was one of those songs that you could just feel a special bond forming between the band the the audience… and the noose around his neck was just as tight as if it was on all of our necks…Jyrki always gives his best, tonight it felt he gave 110% with no sweat. “Framed In Blood” he devoted to one of his favourite bands, Rotting Christ, that performed after the Eyes, jumped on the amplifiers, his in-famous stage strutting driving all the gothic girls in the audience into madness…

Then a special treat came from the Eyes themselves – cover of “L.A. Woman”! Mr. Mojo Rising! And hell yeah he rose that night, an eerie feeling crept up as the Eyes were meticulously performing one of the Doors’ greatest hits. An eerie feeling of having Jim himself there on stage, passing through the instruments, giving them unmistakable, time-turning magic. It reminded us of Billy Idol show here two years ago, but somehow I liked Eyes’ cover even more! When Jyrki screamed – “Fuck L.A.!” and “this is the best place!”, things were clear – Helsinki Vampires just took a bite out of Exit and they sure liked it!

Sweets for the end – a vampire anthem for all those about to goth(n’roll), and as the crowd was going backwards in order to scream as loud as it can “You Wanna Rock!”, it was, sadly, time to part. For now. All those glances and smiles and sing-alongs that the Eyes gave me were just adding to this incredible experience, as always (Archzie looking at me from stage, Timo’s smile, ahh just about everything!). After the gig, all you could hear is that they “kicked ass” and were “far better than any other band”. I could but grin to these comments. I knew it all already.

See you next year, Helsinki Vampires!

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