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sonata arcticaSavoy, Helsinki, Finland
23rd February 2019
Sonata Arctica - “Acoustic Adventures”

SONATA ARCTICA is a “very Finnish” Metal band from a small town next to Polar circle, Kemi. Their trademarks are Melodic Power Metal (albeit the band does not like this “genre label”), deeply emotional ballads and complete negligence to standard all-black outfits by the front man Toni Kakko, who usually is dressed up more like a country singer. Thanks to solid composing skills and great melodies, the band has a strong worldwide following.

Despite the upbeat melodies, the themes of songs are usually melancholic and pretty dark. Partially, these are devoted to corruption of humankind and necessity to be close to nature; though, Toni stressed once in an interview that the band does not focus on “just one message”. This year, the band has announced a series of acoustic gigs, called “Acoustic Adventures”. As many as three gigs were announced, and sold out, just in Helsinki area alone.

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Music & Performance
Savoy is one of the “proper” theatre venues in the heart of the Helsinki city centre, one of these old buildings on high-profile Esplanad street, and it feels that both band and audience feel a little bit restrained by the behaviour rules that such a place imposes. There was no massive head-banging, but crowd screamed (from their seats) in ways more appropriate for an open-air Metal gig, and Toni was clearly willing to move around like he usually does during a “normal” show. The sound, at least for myself, lacked some bass, probably due to theatre’s sound system not really tailored to Rock sound, from the looks of it.

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It is not uncommon for Metal bands sometimes produce something acoustic - and  I feel that the title “Adventures” is actually a very precise one. The ballads of SONATA ARCTICA are ready-made for acoustic performance but to play acoustically fast Power Metal songs is quite an experiment and a challenge since performers are left without the support of the driving force that electric sound has. At least, the keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg did not have to change his e-piano for anything else, so these song parts were preserved just fine. To show the solidarity with the acoustic direction, though, he played some tunes on an air-blow-powered little keyboard.

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That was a solid performance and it was nice to hear acoustic versions of ballads. But it lacked some power in the acoustically re-imagined fast Metal songs. For me, the program feels more like an experiment and not something that the band would do on a continuous basis. That being said, a very good, raving reception from the audience was obvious.

01. Life
02. Only the Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)
03. Half a Marathon Man
04. The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me
05. As If the World Wasn’t Ending
06. FullMoon
07. Letter to Dana
08. Alone in Heaven
09. On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)
10. Wolf & Raven
11. I Have a Right
12. Black Sheep
13. Among the Shooting Stars
14. Tallulah
15. Paid in Full
16. Flag in the Ground
17. Victoria’s Secret (Tony & Elias only)
18. The Wolves Die Young

Music: 8
Performance: 6
Sound: 7
Light: 7
Total: 7 / 10

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All pictures by Askar Ibragimov

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