12th March 2014
Apocalyptica with Avanti! Orchestra: Apocalyptic Symphony - An Instrumental Night
APOCALYPTICA is one of best and unusual Finnish metal acts that raised to fame with cello covers of METALLICA songs and later continued to be in favour of listeners. They do not have to be bound by a particular genre and easily embark on collaborations with extremely wide number of authors, from classical pieces to most extreme bands out there.
Typical arrangement is four band members plus maybe, singer or two, and typical place to see the band is a large rock club or metal festival. I have seen APOCALYPTICA previously on Helsinki's Tuska 2012, where they decided to cope with heavy direction of the event and did not played many slow and melancholic pieces, favouring more rough and heavy material. Admitting that there was perhaps a reason, as a result, the set was looking like “APOCALYPTICA appearance” rather than “experience”. Collaborations with orchestras are not unusual these days, and every more or less large band of whatever genre probably tried that out. But if the band itself sounds far from classic orchestra, then inevitably there is a chance that things will not blend too well together - the overall synthesis of sound should be integral. With cellos, it is easier to reach as these are classical string instruments. When APOCALYPTICA announced a tour in seated venues, with a medium-size orchestra, it definitely stands out of my usual list of on-going club gigs. http://www.apocalyptica.com / https://www.facebook.com/Apocalyptica
Music & Performance
I will start from the final part of the review: as much as I do not hesitate to mark off certain big concerts of famous bands mediocre, this gig delivered an ideal impression in every sense of this word. I rate it 10/10 and I am going to explain why… The venue was fantastic. Finlandia-talo is not another whatever-big-space-with-loudspeakers, outdoor field or a dedicated rock club. It is a main concert hall of Helsinki, which, by the way, sucked sound-wise before its renovation, but became simply magnificent after a Japanese acoustics guru, barely affordable to most cities, did its audio design in 2011. This big hall has state-of-the-art acoustics. As not often happens, randomly assigned press ticket was not really in a super-privileged VIP area - if I remember correctly, it was just two rows before the 1,700-seat hall ends, somewhere both far and above the stage. I kid you not: I have seen almost every detail and I heard every note as good as it gets in a professional recording studio. The acoustics was crystal clear, transparent and you cannot hear a hint of whatever acoustic problem that plagues common venues. Even best cinemas have worse sound.
The light instalments and other effects were just as great. Extremely well controlled multi-layered theatrical light delivered amazing visual experience. There was some smoke, too, but just the right amount, so you can see beautiful light in the air but can see clearly the stage. The sound of orchestra and APOCALYPTICA together was fantastic and captivating to the fullest. Cello solos were full of drama and deepness, and orchestra blended and enriched band's sound to great extent; they all sound unified and big. One can easily imagine being in some dark romantic story along the lines of these slow pieces. The set was well balanced to expose every good side in APOCALYPTICA's repertoire, from newest songs to the famous METALLICA covers and from slow to heavy ones. Perttu was especially in good mood that night, and I lost count how often he moved around the stage in energetic and crazy ways; he appeared first in romantic long coat, then it went off at certain moment to reveal some black shirt, and then he became fully topless. Needless to say that the band did not really wanted people to remain academically proper and calm throughout the show, despite it being in fancy venue; on few occasions everyone in the hall would raise from the seats for another magnificently sounding heavy piece and some head banging was spotted, too.
Summarizing, the gig was overwhelming success; mind you I am not the type of person who would write that just as “saying thanks” for the access. I could imagine if on some gigs listeners try to make peace with the fact that they spent many dozen euros for average experience that came along with the big name (such thing happened few weeks ago in WITHIN TEMPTATION gig). Here it was worth every cent. I noted to myself after the show, that ideal gigs do exist in this world. I am only sorry that the show, called Apocalyptic Symphony, was not shot on video as this one would make a decent DVD out of it (Apo did not released concert videos for a quite long time). The show run for good two and half hours. After that night the performers went off to Russian and European gigs.
04. Fight Fire With Fire (Metallica cover)
06. Birth Pain
09. Rage of Poseidon
13. Worlds Collide
15. Ludwig - Wonderland
17. At the Gates of Manala
18. Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)
19. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
20. I Don't Care
21. Hall of the Mountain King
Total: 10 / 10
All pictures by Askar Ibragimov