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YOU GOT STALKED: Sonata Arctica

When several STALKERs can actually stalk the very same band on the same tour, the result is a nice combination of different viewpoints. In this case we can get an impression how a Finnish band does on home ground, once seen from the eyes of a country fellow, once by those of a ”foreigner”. And then a concert review ”from abroad”, namely Switzerland Any difference? Well, you can find out here…

After a summer of rock festivals, Sonata Arctica launched a Finnish club tour that visited Turku on Saturday 22nd of September 2012. The venue was the new center of culture, Logomo, which has already hosted a number of different kinds of events, from art shows and concerts of various music genres to the live shows of The Voice of Finland. I was looking forward to the gig, because it was the first time I went to Logomo for a rock / metal concert, where the audience doesn´t sit still in their numbered seats. The space where the concerts are held is very versatile and you can easily change it from a open arena type space into a concert hall with plenty of seating available. Last time I visited the place for a concert, I had a numbered ticket for a Clannad concert, this time I was preparing myself for the crowds of a Sonata Arctica gig.

It had been a while since I last saw Sonata on stage and especially since I hadn´t heard any of the material from the latest album live yet, I was curious to see how well the new songs would work. I suppose it is almost needless to say that they worked just fine, no complaints there.

Sonata Arctica was in good rocking shape and the 20 item setlist (including intro & the traditional vodka+outro) was quite an impressive one. Songs from practically all their albums, old stuff, new stuff, cover stuff. The gig got up to speed fast with one of my favorite tracks from the latest album, Only the Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful) and from there on, the Sonata guys kept on going strong. The only “lull” being the acoustic bit in the middle, during which some of the intensity and dynamic drive of the gig was momentarily lost. I very nearly shushed a few people behind me, as they started to talk quite loudly while the band played Deadskin and a Bon Jovi cover, Wanted Dead or Alive. I don´t think it was the band´s fault as such, the problem may have been in the sound mixing. But I´ll get to that in a bit.

During the gig it became, once more, obvious that the crowd loves the old Sonata classics. I don´t think the band would´ve had to do much more than play their acoustic guitars during Tallulah, because the audience was well up to the task of singing the whole song with them – and so they (we!) did. Even the big, grumpy looking men behind me were bellowing “Tallulah, Tallulah…” and the loud audience participation seemed to really delight the band. Same happened with Replica and a few other oldies, which was wonderful. But it seemed one of the oldies wasn´t all that familiar to most of the people in Logomo that night. The Gun, a 16-year-old song, was certainly quite unfamiliar to me and based on the more quiet reaction of the rest of the audience, to most of the other people as well. Tony even asked how many 18-year-olds there were in the audience and once he got the tally, he laughed and told them they had been 2-year-olds when he wrote the song!

In any case, I enjoyed the feeling of once more watching and listening to Sonata Arctica on stage. But unfortunately my enjoyment was cut down a bit by the less than optimal sound quality in Logomo. This is a place that would easily become one of the best concert venues outside of Helsinki, if they got this right, but to my utter dismay, Sonata Arctica didn´t sound as good as they should´ve. The sounds were muffled and Tony´s vocals were way too quiet at times. Once it even seemed there was no sound from his mic at all, for a good while. Out of the solos I think Henrik´s keyboard solos sounded the best as far as the quality of the sound goes (I´m not referring to skills here, as the band is full of ridiculously talented players), but for example the drums were a bit of a jumble altogether. I was very disappointed, because during the past Clannad concert in the same space the sounds were crystal clear and wonderful. What had gone wrong? Was it that the Logomo crew doesn´t yet have extensive experience of harder rock / metal gigs and their requirements? I have no idea, but what I found disappointing was that while I photographed in the photo pit during the first few songs, everything sounded ok, but once I got some 8 meters further away from the stage, I was constantly bothered by the fact that I felt like the band should´ve sounded a lot better. And I would expect a metal band to sound pretty darned awesome when standing in the audience, stage center, less than 10 meters away from the front row. I felt bad for the band and I certainly hope this was just an unfortunate mistake and Logomo will become one of my absolute favorite concert venues, because it really has such potential!

To finish up, I´d give Sonata Arctica a solid 8 for the gig, but Logomo a mere 5 for the sound. (Johanna Ahonen)

For the release of its seventh studio album “Stones Grow Her Name”, Sonata Arctica is playing three shows in a row in Helsinki in the legendary Tavastia club. This evening of 27th September 2012, it´s the third and the last show, let´s hope the Finns won´t be too tired…I enter the venue and I can notice that the place is almost full. It´s packed – the pit as well as the stairs are filled with people. Fans are numerous tonight and they seem pretty impatient for the show to get started. It´s around 9pm , the lights are shut down, Sonata Arctica hits the stage and the crowd starts to get crazy.

The band is in a great shape, especially the singer Tony Kakko. From the very first second of the show, he´s filled with energy. I have already attended several Sonata Arctica shows, and I must say that for the first half of the set, Tony had been sort of shy.. Here, I´m surprised to see that he didn´t wait that long to deliver his energy, which is great to see. Yeah, Tony was at his best tonight, constantly smiling and headbanging. The other members were also in good shape, especially Elias Viljanen who executed his solos perfectly – always nice to see such a talented guitar player. Tommy Portimo was obviously having fun blastbeating, Henrik appeared to be the funny guy of the band and as usual, Marko remained a bit shy.

As for the set-list, unsurprisingly the Finns played some new songs, but also the most famous songs of the band were performed. Ballads always work among the fans who sung all along ´Tallula” or the amazing “Replica” . In Finland too, the crowd is moved when that song is performed. It´s amazing to see how Tony can convey so much emotion . His charisma and his great voice account for those moments filled with emotion. Fans were on the edge of crying… but not for long. Ballads are now over and of course, the infamous “Full Moon” was performed – it was probably the most burning moment of the show. The crowd had fun singing the Run Away part, and it was like a big party on stage too.

We could feel a real connection between the band and their fans, which is always pleasant to see. Sonata Arctica delivering their songs with emotion, and the fans giving back all their love and devotion for the band.

By the middle of the show, the band got awarded and received gold discs a for the “Stones Grow Her Names” album. After so many years of activity, Sonata Arctica is still big in its home country and still has many fans, whereas in some European countries the band has progressively lost many fans for the past years (like in France for example).

To sum up, Sonata Arctica played once more a very powerful and entertaining show. It was great to see such a motivated band. As for the set-list, no big surprises : it was composed of new songs but especially of classics, which always make the crowd go crazy. (Marine)

Switzerland: Sonata Arctica / Battle Beast 21.11.2012
Metal from Finnland with two bands who face the end of their European tour and had several changes recently. It should have started at 19.30 h but we had to wait one hour more, together with 800 fans who came to Z7 on a Wednesday evening.

Battle Beast

can look back on a strong entry to the Metal scene, their tour with Nightwish was a success and singer Nitte Valo used to be called the female Dio. Therefore it was a severe blow for the band when she left, in September the new front woman Noora Louhimo was presented. When she enters the stage you wonder if they changed the line-up again. Is this really the same person? Another example that also bands use Photoshop a lot. Why? What is the point when people you know from photos are unrecognizable in real life? Well, the new singer is blond, the old one had black hair, otherwise all remains the same. Also Noora has a great voice, so that sometimes I even suspect playback, their voices are very similar. Guitarhero Anton convinces with his voice, too, and nothing to complain about the sound either. Battle Beast simply make great music, yet they have to work on their announcements a bit. When Pyry´s drumhead needs replacement, basser Eero tries to entertain the audience, which does not quite work out. Noora doesn´t speak even once in her „tough Metal-Chick“ routine which makes her appear arrogant. But I think the band will work it out, and all in all Battle Beast manage perfectly to warm up the audience for Sonata Arctica.

Sonata Arctica
After a short break it´s „spot on and go“ for the Power-Metal princes from Finland. The stage is all in blue light when they take off with „Only the Broken Hearts (make you beautiful)“ from their new album „Stones Grow her Name“! I have to say that on purpose I did not listen to it, because I wanted to find out how they can impress you live when you are not familiar with the new style yet. Surely you hear the difference between old and new Sonata, but it is exactly this mixture that appeals to me. Songs like „Shitload of Money“ and „The Day“ are played, and also „I have a right“; they play almost the entire new album plus some old hits. In the middle of the set they re-arrange the stage and play acoustic songs, e.g. Bon Jovi´s „Wanted Dead or Alive“. Even though their version is great, adapted to their situation with „On a tourbus I ride“ instead of the „Steelhorse“, I have to admit that I like the 9 year old Marco Kappel better who appeared at „Deutschland sucht den Superstar Kids“ This kid has a rougher voice than Tony.

As last acoustic-set encore they play the country version of „Increased Chances“ from the PC Game Full Throttle, which appeals a lot to the audience because Tony starts jodeling. The crowd is taken until the very end, sings along – and it´s more guys than girls who sing and dance. However, the Finland-flagged fans are naturally in the first row, crying of joy (at least I hope so). Even though Henrik and Marko have a grim look during the set, Tony and Elias make up for it. Tommy can hardly be seen behind the drums, but his new hairdo looks great. The Sonata concerts I had seen so far were not that great, neither vocally nor in terms of performance, the certain something was missing, especially towards the end. But this concert is 100% devotion from beginning to end and by far the best gig I have ever seen of Sonata Arctica – and there were some. Chapeau, guys, please continue like this, you finally seem to enjoy once again what you are doing!  (Sandy Mahrer)


Sandy Mahrer

Fresh Act editor, reports, reviews, photos - - - Favorite genres? - Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Pop-Rock etc. Less Death, Black, Grind Core

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