Last time Sonata Arctica played in Helsinki in September (see our report.) During that show, the band even received gold for the latest album “Stones Grow Her Name”. Promoting it, they are back in the Finnish capital; naturally the set-list will revolve around that album. I´m surprised to see the venue isn´t as packed as I expected. The reason might be fans of the early albums don´t enjoy the new musical direction. Too bad, because the missed a very decent live performance from.
If Sonata Arctica music has slightly changed, the band members haven´t. They neither lost their energy nor their motivation, and they all seem happy to play for their fans. Tony Kakko is still as charismatic and very good at communicating with the crowd. Leading the show and grasping everyone´s attention is such a piece of cake for him. Elias Viljanen hasn´t slowed down his pace on the guitar frets and he can still headbang furiously. Drums are still pounded very hard with Tommy Portimo. As for Henrik Klingenberg (keyborads) and Markko Paasikoski ( bass) , they are still a bit more shy than the others and are less demonstrative as to showing their enthusiasm.
Even if songs are now a slower than they used to be, the show itself remained very dynamic and filled with energy. That´s actually the reason why I think that fans who don´t necessarily enjoy the band´s new musical choices should still come to the shows. If some years ago you liked Sonata Arctica´s powerful shows, then you shouldn´t be disappointed in 2013..
As for the songs, I admit they don´t have much to do with power metal anymore, they´re different but definitely not bad. When Jani Liimatainen left in 2007, it´s clear the band took the opportunity to redefine its musical direction, leaving the speed part behind. The new songs are good and they work very well live : “I Have A Right” is a success, the crowd truly enjoys that song and fans don´t hesitate to raise their fists and sing all the lyrics along with Tony Kakko.
Of course the legendary “Full Moon” was played. As usual, it was revisited for the live performance The Finns would make a big mistake if they didn´t play that much awaited song – yet the new live version is another proof that the band steps away from its early days. The fact not many old songs were included in the set-list reinforced that impression.
Years are passing by and the band has naturally evolved musically. Tony Kakko ´s own voice has also evolved and slightly changed. It´s even more noticeable when he sings live. He has clearly expanded his vocal range which is more diverse now, and he can play more with it and produce different things.
I will end by saying that show was another confirmation that Sonata Arctica isn´t the power metal band it used to be. However, the band still delivers super efficient live performances, despite the fact it´s definitely more rock than speed …