Live: SONATA ARCTICA w/THUNDERSTONE & STRIKER, Dublin (26/03/17) Posted: 25/04/2017 by Ben Cohn
On March 26th power metal legends SONATA ARCTICA played a massive show with guests THUNDERSTONE and STRIKER in The Academy, Dublin. The excitement and anticipation had been building for weeks and there was a noticeable amount of electricity in the crowd at the Academy for the gig. People moved around with an energy that is usually found in the moments leading up to the start of a show. Like most shows in Dublin there was a very diverse crowd of people from many different countries and walks of life. In the days leading up to the event several people commented on the Facebook page created for it that they had traveled long distances, and endured much hardship to see the show
SONATA ARCTICA is one of those bands that can rely on a core of dedicated fans to show up no matter where they play. There were dozens of people who came from South America for the show, representing an area that has been one of the strongest bastions of the metal scene since the 80’s.
STRIKER started things off right and lived up to their powerful name. The thrash band from Edmonton, Canada plays like they never want to stop. Singer Dan Cleary told the crowd that he had been sick and they had not played at their last show in Belfast. However, he wasn’t going to miss two nights in a row and the band released two nights worth of thrash on the hungry crowd. They play a kind of thrash that has its own style but is definitely influenced by the originators like SLAYER and some later bands like WHITE WIZZARD. They aren’t pure thrash, they mix in some SONATA ARCTICA like power and heavy metal into their sound. They were really excited to play and they went through their set really quickly.
The first band of a gig always has it the hardest because they have to win over the crowd but it didn’t take long this time. After the first minute or so of the first song, the crowd had been won over by the soaring riffs and the showmanship of the front man. They left with the crowd wanting more and definitely made some fans with their performance.
Next up, SONATA ARCTICA‘s fellow Finnish countrymen and power metal band THUNDERSTONE kicked things up a notch with a furious and gleeful performance. The band is perhaps most famous for its attempt at entering the Eurovision contest in 2006. Their run started almost as a joke but they are so popular in Finland that they ended up getting a lot of votes and finishing second overall. They joined the tour to promote their album “Apocalypse Again” and, it was clear that they wanted to make a lasting impression on the Dublin crowd. The standout during their set was the drummer, Atte Palokangas, a relatively recent addition and a really great musician. He played the whole time like a kid who just got his first drum set. He had a huge smile on his face as he hammered out tune after tune. It helped that he looks like he just got off a longship to play the show. The energy of Palokangas combined with the band’s technical ability made for a great set and the crowd reacted with roars of approval. THUNDERSTONE played like a co-headliner and they definitely made it clear that they are a band people should respect. Their set quickly transitioned from fast to slow and from ballad to power number. The smooth flow of their sound made all their songs blend together very well. By the time they were done SONATA ARCTICA had their work cut out for them.
They have many different sounds but most recently SONATA ARCTICA have been experimenting more with power metal and what lead singer Tony Kakko describes as “melodic metal”. Kakko has said in the past that melody is the most important thing to him and, he always strives for the band to achieve melodic perfection. They incorporation of keyboards into the band’s sound really makes it possible for them to produce their unique style. Lead guitarist Elias Viljanen and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg were standouts during the set. Viljanen played extremely well and his perfectly timed solos seemed to punctuate the band’s melody at every turn. The keyboards were turned up a lot in the mix and there was a lot of pressure on Klingenberg to guide the band from song the song. He introduced each song and played a few solos on the more melancholy tracks. The band has been around for a long time and they have undergone a lot of changes to their sound and their personnel. They can credit their longevity and their widespread popularity to the passion that they have for the music, and each band member’s technical abilities. When they work together as a band, their sound really does achieve a supernatural melodic rhythm to it that draws the audience in like a siren seducing a sailor. They played all of their classic songs and some songs off of the new album, “The Ninth Hour”, which has been doing very well in the charts. Their set was just what the audience wanted and everybody ended the night feeling satisfied.
It was a gig that showcased the talent of two of Finland’s greatest metal bands, while also giving people a chance to listen to newer band, STRIKER. There was no shortage of musicality at this show and the three bands each complemented each other very well. It won’t be long before these bands return.
Reviewed by Ben Cohn.
Tommy Portimo – Drums
Tony Kakko – Lead Vocals
Henrik Klingenberg – Keyboards
Elias Viljanen – Guitar
Pasi Kauppinen – Bass
Pasi Rantanen – Lead vocals
Nino Laurenne – Guitar
Titus Hjelm – Bass
Jukka Karinen – Keyboards
Atte Palokangas – Drums
Dan Cleary – Lead Vocals
Timothy Brown – Guitar
William “Wild Bill” Wallace – Bass
Adam Brown – Drums