Artist: Sonata Arctica
Venue: Nokia Theater (New York, NY)
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
I had mentioned that my weekend was turning out to be a bit of a “Finnish Invasion” based on all of the activity that the countries musical Metal bands of note were bringing to the Big Apple. It started for me last night at the Apocalyptica show at this very same venue and tonight’s fun was originally going to find me enjoying the music of Nightwish who would be closing our their most recent tour for their much acclaimed album “Dark Passion Play”. Sadly, the bands new singer Anette had fallen ill about a week before and cancelled a few shows based on this. The speculation was hopeful that she would recover and do the show in NYC but the evening previous being cancelled led up to the cold hard fact that this would not be happening. Luckily for everyone who had tickets, the show was not cancelled and now free with Sonata Arctica being moved up to the headlining spot. When the doors opened, the assembled fans that still wanted to take part in the event were able to meet the musicians in Nightwish who had come to NYC to meet their fans and sign autographs. I entered the venue when this was going on and it was like walking around in a Funeral Home based on the truly depressed feelings that people were broadcasting. After the signing session, some local talent by the name of Martyrd would kick off the night of Metal before Sonata would take to the stage. Here are some of the evening’s highlights.
Martyrd: This young band from Queens, NYC really had a lot to prove with tonight’s show because with the cancellation of Nightwish and the main signed act only being Sonata Arctica with no other label band joining in, the mood in the place was like walking on eggshells and no one seemed visibly interested in being all that supportive of them. Despite this the guys would hit the stage like pros and really came off as impressive to me, and I don’t say this lightly for I had seen them once before and was not too thrilled. Perhaps it was that particular show, but nonetheless the guys delivered a rock solid gig this evening and did have the crowd cheering them on after a few numbers. They had some cool t-shirts of their own on sale with a funny slogan and were promoting their self-released CD “Maniac”. I wish them luck in their endeavors and think that they did a fine job tonight of helping to raise the mood from one of sadness to one that held promise. Once they were done the crowd was surprised to find the members of Nightwish coming out on to the stage to incredible and fanatical screams. Bassist Marco addressed the crowd about Anette’s illness and how they would be back as soon as possible to perform for them but now the emphasis was on their singer’s recovery. According to some folks, she had already flown back to Europe and that made sense since she was apparently very, very ill. The guys reached over the photo barriers to touch some of the outstretched hands and then they were gone and it was now time for Sonata Arctica to deliver some much needed music.
Sonata Arctica: While they have had a few albums preceding it, I have been a fan of the band Sonata Arctica since I first heard them on the stellar “Winterheart’s Guild” and since then have made sure to support their visits to our area every time they manage to get over here. Over the years that have passed between releases, they have morphed ever so slightly from your conventional Power Metal outfit to one of a more Progressive/Melodic Hard Rock that has a really heavy edge to it. Since that album that got me hooked they have released two more along with a live effort and seem to be reaching more and more fans as time goes by. The band is a group of seasoned professionals by this point in time and as result their performing on such a stage like this is nothing new to them. They have performed at the neighboring B.B. King Blues Club for their other area visits, so I am sure that even they enjoyed the chance to have a slightly larger stage at their disposal. They arrived to cheers because their New York allegiance is very loyal too the band and has been on point when they have visited us over the years. Singer Tony Kakko in my opinion is one of the Metal scene’s great vocalists and the melodies he is able to deliver with his voice over the bands music just works out very, very well. It’s a pure and exciting tone that while reaching some great highs does not come off as over the top and gives young singers who watch him the proof that having a really good voice can find you kicking some ass in a band like this. The band was as tight as ever and delivering an amazing gig for the assembled fans who had now seemed to move past the gloom of the earlier news and instead were now more intent on enjoying themselves with each and every chord. The last time around the fans got to meet the bands new guitarist Elias Viljanen who had replaced Jani Liimatainen shortly after the release of “Unia” and by now I am happy to report that he sounds locked into the band very comfortably.
Kakko was very animated during the set and running all over the place to get the audience all the more geared up and at one point he does an audience participation thing were he splits the audience into three sections and makes them into his own drum machine. The clever bit finds some acting as bass drum while the others offer up snare drum and high hat and when done at the singers direction allow him to play the intro melody for Queen’s “We Will Rock You”. Describing the show would not do it justice if I didn’t bring to light the refusing to sit idly by energy of keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg who while doing his thing at the stationary boards was also using his “Keytar” for a number of the songs and this allowed him much more interaction with his band mates. The set list tonight would be one that covered the last few albums and even delivered a couple of the bands classic tracks. Favorites of mine included the newer “In Black & White” and “Caleb” along with the few from “Winterheart’s Guild” which still come off with the necessary bombast to make any gig killer.
In the end I have to say that this was one hell of a night and I had a really good time. Oddly enough when I arrived I noticed some people who decided to not bother once they found out that Nightwish had indeed cancelled. With the show now free they should have stuck around and I felt that everyone who decided to check it out by staying really did the Metal a good service by doing so because Sonata Arctica is a powerful live band of true headlining capacity and more than capable of giving the fans a good time. I look forward to hearing some new material and catching them do this again in the near future because tonight they truly saved the day. My Finnish Invasion weekend would give me a breather tomorrow but continue again on Monday with the long overdue appearance of Amorphis.
2. In Black and White
3. Paid In Full
4. 8th Commandment
5. Draw Me
6. White Pearl, Black Oceans
7. Full Moon
9. It Wont Fade
10. Graven Image
11. Don’t Say A Word
12. The Cage
They say the lights are always bright on Broadway, and that is indeed the case with our fair city but sometimes the news we see absolutely sucks pipe. Such would be the case for arriving Nightwish fans who saw this being broadcast to the teeming masses of Times Square.
Of course, with bad news often comes good and while the lack of a performance by the amazing Nightwish, the direct support band Sonata Arctica would move up to the headlining spot and perform a show for free for any that chose to still come inside. In NYC that is a pretty good deal.
So here is what would happen for this evening. The venue would refund everyone’s ticket price since Nightwish had cancelled their performance. The band Nightwish (minus singer Anette) would meet with fans and sign autographs and take photos with the first few hundred fans & Sonata Arctica would still perform for you – making this a free Metal concert with some really cool benefits. One needs to look outside the sad side of news and make it more pleasurable at the end of the day.
Before Sonata Arctica took to the stage, the guys in Nightwish came out to address the New York City crowd about the issue at hand. Anette had already been flown home to Sweden to recuperate from her illness and they informed all in the theater about it. They thanked everyone for the support and said how much they appreciated our allegiance to their music and their friends in Sonata. I only snapped a couple of handful of shots since they were just standing there smiling and waiving to the crowd while Marco spoke on their behalf. While all the photos are in the main concert article, you can see the rest of them right now by clicking the image above. Now as many a performer has exclaimed in light of adversity “the show must go on”!
Here’s a brief sample of the crowd going crazy for the Finnish Melodic Power Metallers. Can you believe that despite the show by Sonata being free that some opted to go back home since Nightwish was not playing? Well, that was the case with a few unwise individuals. I was pretty bummed about the Nightwish singer’s illness myself, but there was no way I was going all the way home when there was a free rousing Metal show to enjoy. Are you in this picture? There is no prize other than your being able to say “I Was There”.
Official Website: http://www.sonataarctica.info
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/martryd