Simon Arinze

LORDI and Other Monster Metallers Bring the Unliving PicTour Show to Birmingham

Music Scene Media
Apr 5, 2024
6 min read

It was a very bleak and dreary evening in Digbeth, but spirits weren’t dampened as fans queued outside of Birmingham's O2 Institute eager to spend an evening with Eurovision royalty. Hot off of their cover feature on Scandinavian Vogue, Lordi were bringing their mix of Shock Glam Rock and Heavy Metal to England's second city.

Before the Finnish rock monsters took to the stage, the sellout crowd needed to be suitably warmed up, firstly by Brighton-based outfit Crimson Veil. Fittingly bathed in an ethereal red glow, the otherworldly set, punctuated by Mishkin Fitzgerald’s haunting vocals, left all in attendance fully under her hex. Giving vibes of a pagan ritual, the dark visuals of the band were personified by the suitably atmospheric staging which, combined with the emotive strings of Hanah Piranha, encapsulated their particular brand of dark progressive metal perfectly.

Then, with a complete shift in tone, were German power metallers All For Metal. Co-fronted by the booming voice and metaphorical ‘Mountain of Power’ that is Tim “Tetzel” Wagner and the incredible range fiercely delivered by Antonio Calanna, All For Metal delivered a raucous show full of punch. With a sound reminiscent of acts like Manowar and Brothers of Metal; All for Metal, complete with a bass playing cackling steampunk monkey, took us on a fun high energy romp through tales of Nordic legend and conquest. All in attendance were fully onboard, chanting back on demand the hooks to "Raise Your Hammer" and "Hear The Drum." Although their time on stage was fleeting, they surely made many new fans on the night. Closing their set off with Mjolnir raised aloft in Tetzel’s sizably worthy arms, the crowd were left definitely wanting more.

Now, with the packed institute absolutely buzzing with anticipation, it was onto the main event, the absolute theatrical treat that is Lordi.

The lights dimmed as "God of Thunder" by KISS began to play, as on stepped Ralph Ruiz (theatrical actor and long time Lordi collaborator) cloaked and hooded as the monk/druid Nosferuiz. Initially singing along to the glam rock legends he slowly made his sinister way to centre stage before breaking into the opening monologue from the 2023 album Screem Writers Guild to introduce the band.

With the rest of the band assembled onstage and the opening riffs beginning to ring out, on came the dramatic entrance of charismatic frontman Mr. Lordi, emerging through a curtain featuring his own grotesque face. The show kicked off with the titular track of the tour, "Unliving Picture Show," reminding us that for all of the shock of their costuming, Lordi do make some really bloody catchy music.

The show was jam packed with designed set pieces; a jump scare scarecrow leaping out unsurprisingly during "Scarecrow," a smoking snake during "Wake the Snake," glow in the dark wolf pelts, severed limbs and confetti cannons galore. 

Despite the commanding stature and larger than life stage presence of Mr. Lordi, each instrumentalist was given an individual moment to shine, getting their own themed interlude sprinkled amongst Lordi’s many hits. Mana had a Star Wars themed drum solo, complete with spinning bass drum and glowing lightsaber drumsticks. Hilsi with a Jurassic Park medley on their bass guitar, featuring the return (then swift devouring by Hilsi) of Ralph Ruiz, now dressed as Jurassic Park’s John Hammond (no expense was spared in his costume for this ‘bit’). Kone got busy fretting out the theme to Richard Donner’s Superman; with Hella playing, amongst other things, the score from Halloween on the keyboard.

The majority of the set was derived from the most recent record Screem Writers Guild along with The Monsterican Dream, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year. The first of the “big hits”' that we were witness to was "Who’s Your Daddy?" from 2006’s The Arockalypse, and there was a packed flourish of familiar tunes to come at the end of the set.

Mr. Lordi treated the Birmingham crowd to an anecdote about a local lad, the Prince of Darkness himself, Ozzy Osbourne, who was hiding out in their dressing room during an edition of Ozzfest so that he could escape having to do his daily aerobics. Watching the band getting ready for their set and donning all of their shock rock garb, he left them with a nugget of advice: “try not to melt out there on stage,” before he was himself carted away by his personal trainer.

As the show built towards the final curtain, we got the super catchy classics from 2002’s Get Heavy "Would You Love a Monsterman?" and "Devil is a Loser," which saw Mr. Lordi’s demonic wings at full stretch. If there is one criticism of this particular show, it is that Lordi fully deserved to be on a much much bigger stage, and the band even joked that the O2 Institute was comically the smallest stage of the tour so far.

Many, including myself, would have been first exposed to Lordi following their win at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, becoming the first metal act to take home the honour. No Lordi set would be complete without playing “that song.” Saving the best for last, as Hella started with the opening keys to "Hard Rock Hallelujah" the crowd was in absolute bedlam, and when Mr. Lordi re-appeared on stage with the classic axe in hand there was not a single person in the house who did not have their arms high in the air, jumping along to that winning song.

With the floor lights finally up and humming along to another KISS classic, "God Save Rock And Roll For You," it was time for us all to shuffle back out into the bleak English weather, however, now made much more bearable for being so thoroughly entertained for the past couple of hours.

The Unliving PicTour Show ‘24 continues for Lordi around Europe with dates through to May.

Words & Pictures: Simon Arinze

Lordi Setlist:

Unliving Picture Show

Lucyfer Prime Evil

My Heaven is Your Hell

Blood Red Sandman


Thing in the Cage

The Children of the Night

Who’s Your Daddy?

Wake The Snake



Devil Is a Loser

Would You Love a Monsterman?

Hard Rock Hallelujah

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