Nestled unassumingly near the front of Töölö, in the heart of Helsinki, is the best restaurant in the world. Lots of restaurants seem like the best restaurants in the world, and almost are, but there is only one that can be king.
And this place is called Hell.
Stylish and sparse, and serving up fine food until 4am, this awesome hostelry offers treats ranging from reindeer pizza to snails with garlic and blue cheese (called Gas Lipstick, named after the drummer from Finnish megastars HIM and his obsession with this sublime dish – which is possibly the tastiest thing in the world).
It is here the four members of rock’s unsung super group (the band you hate to love, the over-proof underachievers, the resplendently independent… etc etc…) soak in the familiar air that is a Helsinki welcome, speak about activities in 2010, eat rare steak so tender that one has only the exquisite taste to remind you that there is actually something in your mouth, and recall the last 48 hours.
We hadn’t been in Finland for a full day before we’re being ushered to the One Eye Tattoo studio, where we will receive free ink, courtesy of Taneli and Pete. They will tirelessly tattoo wrists, necks, arms and ribs, gratis, while handing out free beers. The last time this happened to us was… um… that’s right, this has never happened to us before*.
Previous to that we were invited to attend the opening of a Wildhearts exhibition at the Helsinki City library, where a couple of Wildhearts fans had pooled their not inconsiderable collections together, much to the bemusement of the elderly patrons perusing the library section of the gallery, that serves as a humble reminder that the power of music is a transatlantic phenomenon in which no translation is needed.
MTV filming and magazine interviews/photos are conducted and radio interviews & station take-overs are undertaken before being treat to yet more delicious Finnish fare bolstered by copious Langerot (translated as ‘long drink’ it’s a pint of gin & grapefruit soda based heaven that must be tasted to be believed, I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love this stuff instantly) and Fisu (a chilled vodka fermented with Fisherman’s Friend sweets that delivers a huge, delicious wave to the sinuses and plants a warm glow to the chest, simply outstanding) leaving us merry and satisfied.
It’s been a great couple of days spent with wonderful people. So great, in fact, that we didn’t want to leave this morning (after about 30 seconds worth of sleep**), but I’m glad to report that we are in Tampere right now, getting ready for tonight’s show. The hotel is lovely and the band are loud.
Also the Chutzpah Jnr mini album will be available at all future gigs that The Wildhearts will play, so I trust you will all get a copy. And in the meantime please feel free to pas it around in files. You deserve it. You’re lovely.
See you at Xmas.
*Actually I have had free tattoos before, in Japan, but it wasn’t a whole band session, and hey, let’s try not to let mundane details get in the way of literary flow. Artistic license is why reading is fun, right? Er… right?
**This is an exaggeration. Once again I’d like to take the time to admit to using a little artistic license with which to effect a blunt punch to what could be considered a humorous insert.