Following the release of “Moonglow” back in February, Avantasia went on a world tour that brought, or will bring, the Metal orchestra in many countries across Europe, America, Asia, and Australia.
As has become a tradition with the band led by Tobias Sammet, together with the singer and the instrumentalists, many important vocalists are touring with Avantasia, from Mr. Big’s Eric Martin to the former Queensrÿche frontman, Geoff Tate.
In Stockholm the band scores a sold out, or get very close to it, at the Fryshuset Arenan, a venue with a capacity of 5000 people; Sammet’s main band, Edguy, could never play a venue this big, nor probably could any band of the guest singers who will play here tonight, so this result is particularly impressive.
The concert starts with “Ghost in the Moon”: on this song, Tobias is the only singer on stage (aside from the backing singers, Adrienne Cowan and Herbie Leghans), but this is a rare moment as the frontman will have guests by his side for almost every other song played during the night.
On the second one, in fact, Pretty Maid’s Ronnie Atkins joins the German singer to play “Starlight” and the following, “Book of Shallows”, and is replaced by Jørn Lande who joins the band for the song “The Raven Child”.
While the first four songs are all from the new album, “Moonglow” is the protagonist of the tour, after all, playing for more than 3 hours the band has all the time to go back and play music from all of its catalogue.
The first part of the concert, however, seems focused on the band’s recent history, so Jørn plays “Lucifer” from the previous album, “Ghostlights”, and we’re back to “Moonglow” with Geoff Tate who gets on stage to play “Alchemy” and “Invincible”.
When Tate leaves it is finally time for an old classic, “Reach Out For the Light”: unfortunately Michael Kiske is not on tour with Avantasia, and his amazing vocal skills have always been one the strengths of the band, but the guitarist Oliver Hartmann takes Kiske’s role and does justice to the song.
Now it is time for Adrienne Cowan to take the spotlight, so the singer leaves the side of the stage from where she sang the backing vocals until now and starts singing “Moonglow”.
Cowan took Amanda Somerville’s place in the band and, while her voice is a little less operatic than her predecessor’s, she is more versatile and can even sing some very Death Metal screams that she put here and there adding a nice touch to the music.
It is now the turn of Eric Martin who plays “Maniac” the cover of Michael Sambello’s classic which, as weird as it is in this context, turns out pretty well and entertains the crowd which dances to it.
Martin stays a little longer to play “Dying for an Angel” doing a great job in the role that originally was of Scorpions’ Klaus Meine, then leaves the stage to Magnum’s Bob Catley: Catley is the last guest to appear tonight, and he plays the last new song to be played at the concert, “Lavender” (the eighth track played from “Moonglow”).
Twelve songs into the concert we’ve finally seen the whole band that the genius of Tobias Sammet assembled, and we can definitely say that he did a great job: all the singers are in great shape, good at entertaining the audience and keeping their attention high, and fit the music even when they are not the singers the songs were written for.
The instrumentalist should not be forgotten, especially because the singers never stay on stage for more than a handful of songs at a time, while the rest of the band keeps playing flawlessly for more than 3 hours; particularly impressive is Felix Bohnke, the drummer, who is fast, precise and powerful despite having the most physically demanding job.
The concert continues with all the singers alternating on stage and going back to classics like “The Scarecrow”, “Avantasia” and other songs like “Let the Storm Descend Upon You” and “Shelter From the Rain”.
For the second and last time during the concert, all the guest singers leave letting Sammet sing “Lost in Space” on his own before leaving the stage with the rest of the band.
Of course it is not the end, and they are back soon for the encore: first “Farewell”, to which the audience immediately starts waving their arms, and then “Sign of the Cross” (with a “The Seven Angels” interlude) with all the guest singers together on stage.
This time the band leaves for good among the loud applause and screams of the 5000 who came to see them.
Very few bands can play more than 3 hours, even fewer can do it while keeping such a high standard for the whole performance, and I can’t think of any other concert I’ve attended where such a long show felt like an hour or so, and where even though I was exhausted I would have happily stayed for another encore or two.
Avantasia proved once again how their shows are unmissable events for all those who love Power Metal, and generally for all those who want to have a good time with some great music.
All photos by Davide Sciaky