GIG REVIEW: Saara Aalto at Under The Bridge

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

WHERE: Under The Bridge

WHEN: 25/4, tour runs to 10/11/18

SETLIST: Queens; Hån; Dance; Diva; Euphoria; Rise Like A Phoenix; Every Way That I Can; Rock’n’ Roll Kids; No Fear; Don’t Deny Our Love; My Touch; Domino; Calm After The Storm; Dance Like Nobody’s Watching; Con Te Partiro; Half A Heart; Wild Wild Wonderland; Monsters

The Eurovision Song Contest might mean a once-a-year event to you but for this year’s Finnish contestant Saara Aalto it is the culmination of a 14-year quest.

  • Read on for reasons including the highlights from new LP Wild Wild Wonderland

Aalto celebrates her 31st birthday next week (Wednesday 2 May) and is no stranger to a UK audience because she finished 2nd in X Factor in 2016.

But, as she explains in this two-hour showcase for her new album Wild Wild Wonderland out today, she’s actually been trying to represent her home country in Eurovision either as a solo artist, backing singer or member of a girl band since she was 16 years old.

Her Eurovision campaign could not be better thought out. In March Finland chose her co-penned Monsters to be its entry ahead of album tracks Domino and Queens.

Tonight’s showcase features a medley of big Eurovision hits as well as duets with X Factor winner Matt Terry (Calm After the Storm), this year’s Icelandic entry Ari Ólafsson (Con Te Partiro) and Ireland’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy (a quite moving Rock’n’Roll Kids).

Monsters is our favourite song of the year so far but during the almost-as-good Domino we start to wonder whether it might have been a more obvious Eurovision choice. Perhaps it’s just pre-contest jitters.

Elsewhere, the album tracks are a euphoric dance floor treat which work well with lithe dancers Ricky and Dan doing their utmost to showcase our star.

What we like best about Aalto is that she’s so heart on sleeve about song No Fear being her life motto. ‘I wrote this song to give power to myself because I’d just come out with my girlfriend and I was a bit worried because I had fans already and I thought: ‘What if they don’t like me?’

‘What I learned is that nothing bad is going to happen and you just have to be brave.’

She dons a Gina G tribute T-shirt at the keyboards for her Eurovision-themed duet with Terry.

Our favourite song on the album is the David Sneddon-co-write Dance Like Nobody’s Watching which might surprise because it so much more from the heart than much of the soaraway dance pop so expertly on show.

Saara, who it was a pleasure to meet (see below), competes in the first Eurovision semi-final on 8 May, just 6 days after her birthday, and we’ve everything crossed that she’ll still be celebrating when those all-important results are revealed.

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  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Saara Aalto. Tickets
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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