Apocalyptica @ Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza (5/5/2008)

Logo - Apocalyptica

Artist: Apocalyptica
Venue: The Fillmore NY (New York, NY)
Opener: DJ
Date: 5/5/2008
Label: Jive Records

When I sit back and think about the band Apocalyptica, I remembered that while I was slightly curious about them, I also had a healthy dose of negative thoughts about how their premise could even work in the Heavy Metal genre. I mean, let’s be honest here – four guys on cellos playing Metal? The statement still sounds absolutely ridiculous when said aloud but truth be told it works beyond your wildest imagination. Personally, I was sold from the very first moment that I heard their album “Cult”. The release had a large amount of their originals but also presented a few tunes by Metallica and for those unaware, this was one of the first things that called attention to the group. After I absorbed the album I felt that I had once again found a group who could inspire a larger amount of bands to raise their own game and deliver more and more “difference” for the benefit of the genre. “Reflections” would be my next go at the group and while I enjoyed it all I was now compelled to see them do this stuff live. Luckily, the full length concert DVD entitled “Life Burns Tour” came out and showed the world at large just how they execute this masterful idea. The band moved on to Jive Records not too long ago and had recently released “World’s Collide”, an album that continues the bands quest for originality in their craft and like the others before it, finds incredible instrumentals mixed together with some awesome vocal tracks. Tonight at The Fillmore NY, the band would perform to a sold out crowd and be celebrating the new album and many of their other established classics. It was surely an exciting night since the group had not been in this region since early 2006 to my knowledge. I got there early enough to hopefully enjoy some interesting opening band but instead of having another group on the tour with them, Apocalyptica chose to have some DJ spinning records. Talk about a disappointment, I mean the guy didn’t even play anything edgy and instead played the same old stuff you could hear anywhere at any given time.

Since this show would be my first ever live experience with the band I was really focused on how they would do some of the things that I had heard about them doing and I was also paying close mind to how the vocal tracks would be executed. The new album features vocals by Cristina Scabbia, Corey Taylor and Adam Grontier while past tracks feature HIM’s Ville Vallo and The Rasmus’ Laurie, so I had expected a decent amount of tape to be run in the background when it seemed the necessity. The crowd was an interesting mix of people for this show with many different brands of Metal fan in attendance. We found your typical Gothic fan mingling with those normally found at Power and Prog-Metal shows and just those who seem to fit into any Heavy Music event anywhere you go. I like a diverse group like this since it shows very clearly about just how vast the appeal of Apocalyptica is. When the show began the band came out and sat on these huge chairs that resembled skulls and they opened their set with “World’s Collide” which is the title track from the aforementioned new release. They immediately draw you into their sound and this fascinated me right away but what would come next would totally surprise me. The band didn’t stay in the seats long and instead jumped to their feet with the huge cellos in hand and treated the instrument like it was the much more lightweight guitar. Needless to say this was intense and the audience was floored by how much activity was happening this early in the set. The band was performing their Sepultura cover “Refuse/Resist”, and it was nothing less than amazing. Better still, the show was still only just beginning and we had a lot more material for them to get through. Before I get any further into this article, I think it best that I introduce Apocalyptica to everyone reading, so here we go. The three cellists are Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lotjonen, and Perttu Kivilaakso who are joined by Mikko Siren on drums. During the shows the band is also joined by Antero Maninnen who was once a full time member of the group but now only joins them in concert from time to time.

The three main cellists are insane during the show and come so close to the crowd that they can almost touch them over the space set up for photography. Paavo and Perttu were the only members of the band who regularly spoke to the crowd and if Eicca did this, I must admit that I forgot. Antero on the other hand just sits there ominously and plays. He wears shades and has no expression which gives the impression that the musician is completely lost in the moment of the music he is playing. The set tonight would be a mix of the bands unique cover tunes and I was eager to hear some of the Metallica. This aspect of their set began with “Fight Fire With Fire” and there would be three more tunes from that band to enjoy as the evening continued. For “Life Burns” they brought on Toryn Green who is now the singer for Fuel and if you were not sure of this, the song was originally sung on the bands recording by Lauri from The Rasmus. Toryn would also sing “Helden” and he impressed me as he started the song in German and closed it out in English. This is the bands take on the classic David Bowie song “Heroes”, and their version was interesting because the Thin White Duke had also sung it in German at one time. The band was very cordial to the fans and while Perttu speaks softly, Paavo has a deeper Finnish voice but at no point do you have trouble understanding them. “Bittersweet” came up soon after some more instrumentals but as opposed to their having a surprise guest appearance from Ville Vallo, the band encouraged the audience to sing. I don’t know about this as a suggestion because these US audiences are not as resounding in singing along for the most part like they might be used to in Europe. Yes, they are great at a verse here and there or a screaming chorus, but they seem to lose this skill when required to do the whole song.

The new album got its representation with guest star vocalist Adam Grontier from Three Day’s Grace. He sings the track “I Don’t Care” on the album and while I liked the song, my issues with the new release were that these guest tracks reminded me more of the band of the singer than Apocalypica but still this was being met with great approval. We had more Metallica and Sepultura before Adam returned to sing the mega hit “I’m Not Jesus” and I will be honest that I didn’t like the way he performed it. The audience was incredibly alive for the track however, and this must be based on stations like The Fuse playing it again and again. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica found the audience singing along again but they seemed to know this one in full and their version of the Edvard Grieg classical piece “The Hall Of The Mountain King” was explosive. It was weird to realize that we were at eighteen songs when the band came back out to go their closing number “Nothing Else Matters” (yes another Metallica track) and while I love this song very much the audience was very choppy on their singing along. One cannot control their input when it’s an instrumental band performing a softer number but to you folks who only know a piece here and there, how about you only contribute then as opposed to mumbling under your breath or guessing the words. The people around you will be a lot more appreciative.

Overall I had to say that the group did nothing less than impress me, and there is rumor that they will return shortly after the summer to do more dates stateside. I am sure that wherever they choose to have this, that the crowd will be waiting and as attentive as this collection of fans were. I recommend checking them out if they should be hitting any venues in your region.

Set List:
1. Worlds Collide
2. Refuse/Resist (Sepultura cover)
3. Grace
4. Fight Fire With Fire (Metallica cover)
5. Ion
6. Life Burns (w/ Toryn)
7. Helden (w/Toryn)
8. Somewhere Around Nothing
9. Betrayal
10. Bittersweet (w/ Audience)
11. I Don’t Care (w/ Adam)
12. Last Hope
13. Seek And Destroy (Metallica cover) –
14. Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)
15. I’m Not Jesus (w/ Adam)
16. Enter Sandman (Metallica cover)
17. Hall Of The Mountain King
18. Nothing Else Matters (encore – finale)

Official Website: www.apocalyptica.com

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