Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Avantasia Live Report

I saw the Avantasia gig advertised back in the late months of 2015, though I forget when exactly, nevertheless it would be pretty impossible for me not to go and see this touring, metallic jamboree from the mind of Edguy main man Tobias Sammet. They've played at Bloodstock before but this was their first headline UK show in an indoor venue as Tobi said after the opening song. So they were very proud of that and the fact that it was almost a sell out. I would say it was pretty close to a sell out though with more than 2000 people attending. The doors opened at 7 but the intro began a full 55 minutes later so there was a little bit of hanging around to do.

I found a standing spot on a raise part of the floor next to the barrier with a decent view of the stage. The stage itself was sort of like a medieval derelict old castle with the Ghostlights album cover painted on a huge backdrop behind the main stage. The opening number was Mystery of a Blood Red Rose and it saw our man Tobi emerge from the top of the steps and proceed downwards to huge applause as he sang the opening lines. An excellent start indeed to the night's proceedings. After the song Tobi explained that they would be playing for 3 hours more or less and I must admit I did smirk to myself, yeah right!, and in the end well he was right and I was wrong! They came on at close to 8 and left at close to 11. Sure there's quite a bit of talking in between, maybe a full 20 minutes of chit and chat and banter but that still leaves a good two and a half hours of Avantasia classics on show.

I have never ever seen Kiske live and I was looking forward to his caterwauling and boy did he caterwaul! The guy is blessed with a voice that scales heights you won't believe. And it's funny 'cause his speaking voice is actually quite manly and you wonder where it all comes from! He was up second singing the title track from the new album with Tobi on stage as well of course. The sound was almost perfect by the way, with vocals very loud and clear just the way I like it, I hate it when you go to a gig and the music is so loud it drowns out the singers. We've paid our money to hear the singers sing so don't drown them out and thankfully they didn't with perfect sound all night.

The third song saw the entrance of Pretty Maids man Ronnie Atkins and his rougher vocals. He's basically like a slightly smaller version of Jorn both in looks and vocals. Unchain the Night saw both Kiske and Atkins in tandem bellowing out a great chorus.

The English part of the proceedings came to a head next as Bob Catley made a grand entrance at the top of the stairs singing his main tune from Ghostlights. Bob sounded very good but also pretty rough. His voice has gotten much grittier over the years and has lost some of its smoothness. Kudos for being the oldest singer here but I guess the years take their toll in the end. Bob sang two songs in a row before it was finally time for the beast from Norway to make his presence felt from the top of the stairs. I actually forgot to say that Amanda Somerville and Herbie Langans are constantly on stage at pretty much all times providing suitable back vocals to add depth.

Anyway back on point, Mr Lande was at the top of the stairs doing his heaviest vocal on The Scarecrow. A highlight of the night for sure. The other singers have been good but no one can match the power of Viking warrior, Jorn Lande. The guy was burning up the place, whilst doing his best grimaces as he tore through a ground shaking Scarecrow whilst Tobi nailed his parts as well in an incendiary duet. Then followed his creepy take on Lucifer from the new album which starts off with his monstrous vocals in full effect before the whole band chimes in and takes the song in a speedier direction. Jorn was fucking unreal so far!

The Watchmaker's Dream saw the first appearance of Oliver Hartmann and dual lead vocals with Tobi. He was also on guitars of course. His voice sounded a bit smoother than the others and who knew the guy was a shit hot guitarist too. What's Left Of Me followed and saw the first appearance of Eric Martin of Mr. Big. Not a big fan of his voice but he sang with much more grit than in his day job. Maybe he's just trying to keep up with all the power guys on stage hehe. I should point out that Tobi himself was on stage on most songs and sang his parts fantastically and held it altogether very well.

The Wicked Symphony followed and I think it was close to being the best song of the night. A whole host of singers in that song and sung to perfection by all. The song was so heavy as well and induced head banging with it's monstrous rumbling riff.

The Gothic tinged Draconian Love followed with Tobi and Herbie dueting on this very catchy tune with mass sing along by the jubilant crowd. Again a big highlight for me. Farewell followed with a chance for Amanda to showcase her beautiful vocals with Kiske as support but she was the star of that one.

The speedy Shelter from the Rain was again awesome with Kiske and Catley's different styles working perfectly well in tandem. One of the best responses of the night from the crowd for that song.

The Story Ain't Over, saw Bob going solo before one of the best songs of the night in Let The Storm Descend Upon You in all it's 12 minute glory took us closer to the end of the show. That song was totally epic with it's glorious chorus sung brilliantly by all. A truly epic moment!

The main set proressed to its close with a handful of more tunes with Kiske taking full control to showcase his extraordinary high pitched vocals including the fantastically sing along anthem of the band, the track Avantasia with full participation by the whole crowd more or less.

I'm getting tired of saying this but the next song Twisted Mind was again another huge highlight although Tobi didn't sing that one. It was a wicked tune indeed. The main set closed with a very heavy take of Dying For An Angel with Eric Martin.

The band said their "thank you"s and left but would soon return of course to do the encore. As Tobi explained he was trying to go for a big chart hit when he wrote Lost in Space. Sure it didn't work out but the song is one of his catchiest for sure and there's no denying that. The last song of the night saw the band and all singers on stage for one last hurrah before long slow goodbyes and mass bowing and taking in the plaudits from the packed crowd. Tobi said since this night had been such a success that they would be back in the future which was met with huge applause of course. If you get the chance to see Avantasia live, then don't miss out. Everyone puts on an amazing show and they play for an eternity. A fun night of epic, melodic metal in its grandest form!

set list:

Also sprach Zarathustra
(Richard Strauss song) (Theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey")
Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
(with Michael Kiske)
Invoke the Machine
(with Ronnie Atkins)
Unchain the Light
(with Ronnie Atkins and Michael Kiske)
A Restless Heart and Obsidian Skies
(with Bob Catley)
The Great Mystery
(with Bob Catley)
The Scarecrow
(with Jørn Lande)
(with Jørn Lande)
The Watchmakers' Dream
(with Oliver Hartmann)
What's Left of Me
(with Eric Martin)
The Wicked Symphony
(with Oliver Hartmann, Jørn Lande, Amanda Somerville, Herbie Langhans, Michael Kiske; without Sammet)
Draconian Love
(with Herbie Langhans)
(with Amanda Somerville and Michael Kiske)
(with Michael Kiske, Jørn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Oliver Hartmann; without Tobias Sammet)
Shelter from the Rain
(with Michael Kiske and Bob Catley)
The Story Ain't Over
(with Bob Catley)
Let the Storm Descend Upon You
(with Jørn Lande and Ronnie Atkins)
Promised Land
(with Jørn Lande)
Reach Out for the Light
(with Michael Kiske)
(with Michael Kiske)
Twisted Mind
(with Eric Martin and Ronnie Atkins; without Tobias Sammet)
Dying for an Angel
(with Eric Martin)

Lost in Space
(with Amanda Somerville)
Sign of the Cross / The Seven Angels
(with everyone on stage)

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