Avantasia – Oberhausen, GER / Pratteln, CH, 2016
20th March 2016 Oberhausen (GER) Turbinenhalle
Avantasia concerts are always amazing! Eight state of the art vocalists, 3,5 hours of playing time, a great stage scenery and a fantastic light show as well as a superb sound hardly leaves anything to wish for. This has been the case since the first Metal opera tour in 2010 and has not changed at all.
So it is no wonder that tonight’s show is sold out with 4000 people. When the last tunes of ‘You Shook me all Night Long’ die away and light fades, the venue is filled up to the roof. The mood in the audience is fantastic right from the first tune of ‚Mystery of a Blood Red Rose‘. Tobi and his band get a warm and enthusiastic welcome, just like old friends. Old friends are also the other vocalists: Michael Kiske, Jorn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Bob Catley and Eric Martin are on board and all of them not for the first time. In the crew also Amanda Sommerville (not for the first time too) and Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed), who deliver backing vocals an also get to sing solo.
Tonight’s setlist does not really surprise: There are 7 songs from the impressive new album “Ghostlights”. With a total of 24 songs, every album is covered of course. But I wonder why there are more songs from the quite old “Scarecrow” album than from the newer “Angel of Babylon” / “The Wicked Symphony” double release. Although the setlist is more or less balanced, I wonder why some average songs (e.g. ‘A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies’ and ‘What’s Left of Me’) have found there way into the set, but some real killers like ‘The Toy Master’ and ‘Spectres’ didn’t. But there is so much happening on stage and all singers really give their best, therefore also the more average songs sound great tonight.
So also 2016 everything is fine with Avantasia. But beside the music, there are also Tobi’s statements which make the evening entertaining. Finally, here are some of them:
“We now play again a song from our new album. But when your new album is as good, you can feel free to do so.”
“On this tour we have a new singer with us. I ask myself for 2 weeks now who that guy is. Today I said to myself, that I will now ask him. It turns out that he is Herbie from Sinbreed.”
When announcing ‘Farewell’: “The next song was stolen from us by Celine Dion. But our lawyers are on it. It is looking really good for us!”
After Tobi had a break on ‘The Wicked Symphony’ and almost every other singer was on stage instead: “What the hell was up here? It looks like the mice are dancing on the table when the tomcat is not home!”
Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
Invoke the Machine
Unchain the Light
A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies
The Great Mystery
The Watchmaker’s Dream
What’s Left of Me
The Wicked Symphony
Shelter From the Rain
The Story Ain’t Over
Let the Storm Descend Upon You
Reach Out for the Light
Dying for an Angel
Lost in Space
Sign of the Cross / The Seven Angels
Photos: Timo Pässler
Pratteln, CH, Z7 Konzertfabrik 24.3.2016
In Switzerland, the band performs 2 sold-out concerts in a row, however, some are still groggy from the flu, which had spread in the tour bus, but the show must go on.
At 20:20 the intro begins and gradually the musicians and two backup singers, enter the stage, then Herbie Langhans and the only woman in the crew Amanda Somerville, followed by Tobias Sammet, joining in with “The Mystery of A Blood Red Rose”. Then this year’s co-singers appear on stage: Michael Kiske, Ronnie Atkins, Bob Catley, Eric Martin and Jorn Lande. As always, the guest vocalists vie for attention when three or four are on stage, although they try to take each other’s performance into consideration. Some songs are presented without Tobi, because he is repeatedly plagued by coughing and voice problems. But he bravely persevered and Supershow delivered a great show although I can imagine how difficult it was for him.
Vocally Jorn Lande was clearly the highlight for me, on the last tour the Norwegian was missing, thus Mr. Sammet set all means of persuasion in motion to bring him back, and the two later also embraced on stage to huge applause. Then there is the 68-year-old Bob Catley who clearly seems to enjoy in his role as storyteller and sings his parts with great zeal. Zeal is also expressed by Ronnie Atkins – it seemed that he was on speed when the Dane vigorously swirled all over the stage. Only Kiske remained relaxed – as always – and made fun of his increased weight, “for which the people love him more than Tobi,” and he even bared his hairy chest in front of a seemingly horrified Sammet. Herbie Langhans and guitarist Oli Hartmann also sang as leads; Oli always amazes me with his talent. What is still missing is a lead song for Amanda. She’s simply an asset and lights up the stage with her energy.
Tobi chatters as usual and pleads for more applause right after the first song, even though Easter was a „time for temperance“; with a mischievous smile and a twinkle in his eyes, as usual for Sammet. And after a couple of songs the audience warms up and celebrates the band. All the musicians are quite talkative; apart from Ronnie Atkins and Michael Kiske all try to knock out as much time as possible on stage, which is very entertaining yes, but after 3 hours some people seem to lose their temper. Especially Eric Martin receives some violent booing for his comments about the jewellery fair in Basel he did not have time for, about sex and his desire for a porn shoot with Amanda. In general, the freaky attitude of the Mr.Big singer alienates quite a few people tonight.
The stage design showing a ruin is – as always – very well done; one simply sees the professionalism behind this whole tour. 3.5 hours show and 33 shows in succession, a quite exhausting for the German Sammet. As always, Avantasia presented a great performance. Personally, I would not mind less chattering, because then 3 hours would have been enough. But still, it was once again a concert highlight.
photos: Sandy Mahrer