Construction of Madonna concert stage in full swing in Helsinki
Many foreigners employed by stage construction company
Construction of a massive stage being set up in Jätkäsaari, on the southern tip of the peninsula that forms the centre of Helsinki, was in full swing on Sunday, in preparation for Thursday evening’s concert by pop star Madonna.
Jaakko Erkinheimo, CEO of Worklinc, the company that has been contracted to set up the stage, says that his company employs many foreigners living in Finland who might have trouble getting other work because of an insufficient knowledge of Finnish.
The crew of about 50 include more than ten different nationalities. They communicate mainly in English.
“In our recruitment, we demand a knowledge of English, and an ability to do heavy physical work”, says Anssi Laitinen, the crew boss of the operation.
Head rigger Jukka Tuominen looks on as aluminium roofing structures are assembled.
The dark clouds rising on the horizon do not worry him much.
“Rain does not impede our work, but strong winds pose a risk”, he says, glancing at the large tower structures.
Setting up the huge towers is painstaking work. Sometimes Tuominen has to serve as an interpreter between the foreigners and the Finns.
Erkinheimo and Laitinen and his group have worked at a number of concert and music festival venues around Finland this summer, including Ruisrock in Turku, Provinssirock in Seinäjoki, and the stadium concerts for Metallica, and ACDC.
The workers are pleased with Jätkäsaari as a location. “This is a nice place, as there is a light breeze from the sea”, Tuominen says. He notes that the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki can be very uncomfortable on a hot summer day.
“This is familiar work. I like manual labour”, says Alex Keane, from Australia.
Keane came to Finland a year ago with his Finnish fiancee, and they plan to go to Australia in a couple of week’s time.
Keane ended up working for Worklinc five months ago, and has been very busy in the summer.
“I had almost 300 work hours in June.
Hungarian Tamás Csákány has a day job at Nokia, and spent his summer holiday setting up stages.
Csákány, who has lived in Finland for several years, worked as a volunteer setting up the stages and tents for the annual World Village festival which is held in Helsinki each May.
A year and a half ago he learned about Worklinc.
“I do this to as a balance to office work. I also get to see good gigs on the side.”
The stage structures for the Madonna concert have been brought in from Britain.
On Wednesday the number of people working at the site will rise to move than 100 when Madonna’s own production company arrives from Estonia, at which time the lights will be set up.
On Thursday, Madonna’s closest aides will come, and finally the star herself.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Tickets for Britney and Madonna concerts sell out (again) (12.5.2009)
Madonna concert in August may close off airspace over Jätkäsaari (10.2.2009)
Madonna to play in Helsinki in August (30.1.2009)