Pori Jazz Festival 2014 was organized with a new concept. On the Kirjurinluoto island, the audience was offered concerts all day long with only 15 minutes breaks thanks to two neighbouring stages, which were used in turns.
At the same time, with the same ticket, you could move to hear music for a smaller public, to the old stage Lokkilava. There we could enjoy wonderful concerts by artists like Pharoah Sanders and Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Gamak – and even John Scofield, who has also performed on the main stage a few years ago.
For decades, concerts have also been arranged in venues like the Pori Theatre or the former cotton factory. Now all music was concentrated on Kirjurinluoto except for a number of free concerts on the Jazz Street stage and some payable events at Klubi Garden.
I heard nobody complain about the music. We can, of course, ask if Bob Dylan or Pet Shop Boys are appropriate choices as main artists for a jazz festival, but they drew audience and performed well.
Also, there was little time to digest and reflect on performances, and having listened to excellent artists one after the other for 12 hours I was exhausted.
I was sorry to miss two interesting singers, Susanne Vega and José James, because they were on the main stage while I had chosen artists on the traditional Lokkilava stage. There we listeners were at times disturbed by the louder music coming from the main stage. Hopefully this will be fixed next year.
What caused most discussion, grudge and complaints was the arrangement of various sub-areas. According to the new, stricter interpretation of the Finnish Alcohol Act, the visitors were not allowed to bring their own wine, beer or spirits to the picnic area, which provides excellent view to the main stage for thousands of spectators. However, one could buy drinks at stalls and consume them on one’s own blanket like before. However, minors were not allowed in this area, so families with teenagers had to spread their blankets on off-licence lawns with a poorer view towards the stages.
Finns are accustomed to strangest licence rules. What was outrageous in this case was the prohibition to bring even water and juice bottles into the licensing area. I wonder if the bags could not be checked at the entrance in connection along with the ticket control, so everyone could move around the whole concert area, both licence and off-licence areas.
In Finland, bags are checked for alcohol whereas elsewhere they are checked for weapons. In Parc Floral, Paris Jazz Festival, the visitors were considered as rational human beings and they behaved like ones. No checks, no disturbances.
In 1966, a few Finnish enthusiasts organized a tiny jazz festival in Pori. Today the event features international top musicians and draws tens of thousands of visitors every July. Many of us are regulars, including dozens of politicians. It has been convenient to establish another event, Suomi Areena, running parallel to Pori Jazz: free miniseminars and debates around the city on topical issues. Citizens can listen and pose questions to well known politicians in informal surroundings. And in July Pori is definitely at its best.