21.04.2019 @ Z7 Pratteln, Switzerland
Since their release « The Metal Opera» 2001, the Avantasia machine has been rolling on. But in those 20 years it’s the first time that Avantasia play 3 shows in a row in one venue and sell out 2 of them. And also the third day is pretty full with 800 people at Z7 on and Easter Sunday. Surely it would have been possible to book Avantasia into a bigger venue, but Tobias Sammet points out how much they appreciate Z7 and its crew and that they will continue to play here. I watched the Friday show as ordinary customer, and the doors of the venue had to be kept open to fit everybody in. On Sunday it was quite convenient to follow the show, even though the doors were closed, and the crowd was in a very attentive mood.
Some people in the audience as well as some musicians on stage were not quite top fit, though, after spending a few days in a hotel in Basel, or better at the hotel bar, which guitarist guitarist Oli Hartmann enjoyed to do but fears to miss this evening because the bar closes at 23.00 h.
But let’s start at the beginning: Avantasia play a 3h show with some of the best Rock/Metal singers besides mastermind Tobias Sammet and his musicians. After the 9th Beethoven symphony and «Ghost and the Moon» the huge Avantasia banner falls and the show takes off, with – as usual – Felix Bohnke on drums, Oliver Hartmann and Sascha Paeth on guitar, Miro Rodenberg on Keyboard and Andre Negenfind on Bass, delivering a great sound that night. And they have a lot of fun on stage, even when something does not quite work. For example Andre’s bass is off for some moments and drummer Felix hits – ummm well a bit too close to home, so to say. Sammet has to make fun of that and announces to the audience that it’s because of Easter and eggs / nuts and several different Easter customs.
Sammet is a born entertainer who could easily be a comedian too, having the audience under his spell. He claims that they can easily play a 3h show as 90 min of it is just him talking. It’s definitely not 90 min of talk, but Sammet could read the telephone book to the audience and they would still find it entertaining.
On this «Moonglow World Tour» the band displays a lot of guest singers and a slight change in the back vocal line. Most of the singers are well known to the audience and they do a better and better job.
Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) already appears on stage during the second song to sing «Starlight» with Tobias. His rough voice is a nice contrast to Sammet’s. And they continue with «Book of Shallows», featuring one of the backing vocal females replacing Amanda Somerville on this Tour, Adrienne Cowan is featured in several bands as singer and growler, e.g. in Sascha Paeth’s Masters of Ceremony, which might be the reason she got on this tour. From her outfit you would rather expect to find her in a Blackmetal Band or in a Kamelot line-up and not with Avantasia, but she does a great job. She and Ina Morgan – together with Herbie Langhans – handle the Backing Vocals, the two ladies replacing Amanda Somerville, who could not join the tour because of family reasons. Those two have to fill really big boots and some people in the audience find that they don’t quite succeed. The nice blond American is missing – despite the fact that all the background singers do a great job.
The vocal stars here are, however, the guest singers, e.g. Jorn Lande performing «The Raven Child». Unfortunately this Norwegian singer is only appearing on the Avantasia Tour, his own bands have been off the radar for a while. But let’s hope that after his «50 Years on Earth» Box Set Release this is going to change. For me he is still the Avantasia highlight because he and Tobi have fantastic voices.
After Jorn there is a coming and going of guests – Geoff Tate performs «Alchemy» and «Invincible», followed by «Reach out for the Light» with Oli Hartmann taking over the vocals sang by Michi Kiske before. For the title song of the new album, «Moonglow», Adrienne takes over the part sung by Candice Night on the album. Then there is a huge surprise – a cover version? Sammet sings «Maniac» by Michael Sembello, with MR. Maniac himself – MR. Eric Martin. The Mr. Big Sänger seems a bit out of space but delivers great vocal work, as well as as Mr. Preacherman – Bob Catley. Respect that he still enjoys being on stage with 71, without him a part of the soul of this band would be missing, just like Amanda.
«Promised Land» and «Twisted Mind» are lead by Eric Martin, featuring first Jorn Lande and then Geoff Tate, both a good voice combination and they have a lot of fun on stage. Basically the Sunday show seems a bit more relaxed than the one on Friday which suggests that there is also a lot of fun behind the stage. «Shelter from the Rain» features Herbie Langhans as main singer, but it’s not easy for him to reach the Kiske-high ranges. After 23 Songs and a presentation of the whole band, they all appear once again for «Sign of the Cross/The Seven Angels». Quite some action for 14 musicians on stage, where Eric Martin grabs Oli Hartmann’s guitar and Adrienne the guitar of Sascha Paeth – lots of applause, the usual group photo and then the show is over, after 3h you find very very entertaining.
A fantastic show that was missing only a certain blond angel – the She-Ra of Metal – Amanda Somerville.