A very strange choice for the Walpurgis night in the Hellcity to schedule Sonata Arctica´s concert at Tavastia, as that night everything is a chaos in this country: the May-day celebrations, called Vappu in Finnish, can be equally compared to a revolution in some southern country. Sonata Arctica, having completed their fifth studio album “Unia” (“Dream”), is now among the most wanted acts: Sold-out long in advance, every lyric is sung along and supported like an old hit, and it seemed everyone was at Tavastia that night.
Shortly after opening hours (21.00) downstairs became so full, there was literally no air left to breathe. Upstairs it was even worse, no air at all and even more people. The balcony was packed, the stairway was packed, the downstairs floor and outer bar were packed, too and although you still had to wait for three hours to the start, no one seemed to mind and kept their places.
Finally with quite short, but a beautiful piano intro, the band appeared, of course not without wearing their own merchandise. Tony Kakko really seems to have invented his own trademark style, fishnets under his band´s colorful shirt and large baggy pants of some bright color (white for tonight). Excellent sound, fantastic lights, beautiful stage setup – all created a wonderful atmosphere and mood for a great concert. This time Sonata chose a very classy stage setup, quite simple, a backdrop with an image of a full moon and howling wolves behind the drum kit, enhanced with effective lighting that created stunning effects.
At every suitable occasion the audience cheered, the guitar solos were perfect, the band in great mood, the atmosphere was just fantastic! Too bad the band´s regular guitarist Jani Liimatainen was not there to share this triumph. During this mini-tour and also upcoming summer festivals, Jani is being replaced by Elias Viljanen (Evil Spirit). (As STALKER found out, Mr. Liimatainen has been postponing his army services for a longer while than legally allowed and finally even his celebrity heavy-metal status didn´t help, so now Jani most likely would have to give his gorgeous red hair up for his country and serve some months in the Finnish military. )
Bass player Marco, however, looked like a numb wax figure among the rocking and cheerful colleagues: no emotions whatsoever. All attention was on Tony, of course, he might not be the best dancer, but his jumps, faces, improvisations, but above all, beautiful vocals attract all the eyes and ears. I was very pleased to hear all my favorites: “Replica”, “The Last Drop”, “Broken”, “Gravenimage”, the setlist was great. I was also surprised to see the crowd as eagerly supporting two new songs from “Unia”. And if this is their success before the album is released, imagine what it is going to be like after the album actually comes out…
Unfortunately, as the concert started so late, I couldn´t stay until the very end, so when the band returned for the first encore – and they had to do a few of them for sure! - I had to leave to catch my bus... In spite of all this excitement and satisfaction-wise, absolutely perfect night, I cannot rate full 10 elks. Already a few times our journalists experienced unfriendly and even rude manners from Tavastia´s doormen.... Of course it is the most famous Finnish rock stage and along with the Inferno bar, hosts the most Finnish celebrities, but at the same time this snobbish attitude can really spoil a pleasant evening.
STALKER especially thanks Samuel Jylhä for assisting with the photo-passes.