Live in Mexico City 06/15/08
Live Photos & Review by: Vanessa De Campos
Maybe Tobias Sammet underlined his name in the Metal market when rumors flooded the internet about his "strong consideration" in undergoing a sex change in 2005. Maybe it was just Edguy’s fist full of energetic German Power Metal that left fans and newbies thirsting for more. Whatever makes you think of Tobi – by rumors, because you’re a long time fan, or as a devoted hater of cheesy Power Metal, one thing is certain, don’t cut the guy short for his creative song writing, his immense stage presence and his talent.
Avantasia and Edguy go hand in hand don’t they? For anyone who has been living under a rock, let me educate you for a minute. Sammet created this fantasy world entitled Avantasia when he released, ‘The Metal Opera’, in 2001. A concept album written, sang and arranged in the form of a play. The characters weren’t just any characters but well known and respected names in the Metal workforce. A year later, he released the follow up and continuation to his debut, "The Metal Opera II". And by now, Sammet has three full length albums under his belt with the release of his most recent masterpiece, "The Scarecrow."
Three albums, a name already popularized and tons of musical guests such as Alice Cooper, Michael Kiske, Roy Khan, Sharon Den Adel, Jorn Lande, Andre Matos, and Kai Hansen (to name just a few), one would assume by now, Tobias has taken this circus on the road and conquered the world! Well, no. At least not until recently…
Circo Volador – Mexico City:
Hours before the show does the very peculiar venue in the middle of Mexico become packed with eager fans chanting Avantasia’s name. The railings were packed tight with no more room for anyone to be able to squeeze in. The floor elevating upward was jammed tight. The walls of the venue had very strange paintings of demons and death, giving a very welcoming feeling to it’s Metal heads, as the venue is the home for many concerts.
Finally, the lights dimmed out, creating a pitch black atmosphere in the room. Keyboard pads added acceleration to the already eager crowd. Blue and white lights flared from behind the stage into the audience. The crunching intro riff to, "Twisted Mind" began and slowly did the faces upon the stage come into view.
Amanda Somerville and Claudy Yang are standing on a raiser with two microphones on stage right, while on the opposite side you find Michael Rosenberg behind the keyboard. In between both corners, smack in the center there is a stairway hovering over the entire stage. On stage right stands, Sascha Paeth and Robert Hunecke on bass. Olli Hartman stands to stage left with his guitar and on the drum riser, behind the set, is Edguy’s Felix Bohnke.
Truthfully, and not only because I am a fan – because the hundreds upon hundreds behind me couldn’t disagree when I say from the moment the band started playing they devoured the crowd’s attention, interest and love with their smiles, enthusiasm, passion and excitement. Remember that Avantasia has never once toured, so this was as new to the band as it was for fans.
Tobi appeared as the vocals of the songs made it’s way out of the P.A. He stood at the top of the stair way and ran down to greet his fans and hype them up with the traditional "hey! hey! hey! hey!" And in no time was the entire venue shaken by the full blown power of the band.
Next up was the title track of the new record. The album’s cover also happened to be the backdrop of the stage. Here is where Jorn Lande made his appearance. Following "The Scarecrow” was "Another Angel Down".
Jorn is an outstanding singer. I never understood what the big fuss was about until I actually sat down and understood and appreciated his capabilities. He’s a genius vocally and I regret that it took me this long to figure that out. His stage presence is also very interesting. I think everyone has taken a photo of Jorn pointing at their cameras, since he focused so much on the photo pit. He is very still, very serious and has very impressive vocals. After the song was over, the venue echoed the name of this Scandinavian singer for several minutes before things got quiet and he suddenly disappeared.
Up next was the fourth song of the night, which finally took fans to the birth of Avantasia, with "Reach out for the Light", from the band’s debut album. This was particularly special because the die-hards really made the effort to let loose and there is a strong difference between the latest album and the first one. Perhaps the first album was very "majestic", or better said, more "epic". And usually the cheesier it is – the crazier fans get at a Power Metal concert.
Matos ran out from behind the curtain and down the steps, making his first appearance of the night. Although I more or less knew what to expect from watching the Shaman DVD, I have got to say that Mr. Matos doesn’t have much justice behind a screen. Watching this crazy Brazilian live is much more powerful and even aggressive than you could imagine. He is such a passionate singer, and he has such a particular voice; a bit raspy which gives it a signature sound. He and Tobi were unstoppable together.
It then got a bit quiet and the sound of the keys floated throughout the room. Matos greeted the crowd in Spanish, asking how we were and making several comments in a very strong accent.
"Inside" was up next and that was magical. I felt as though I was apart of a choir in The Never Ending Story. It’s a very simple ballad, very fantasy-like but still so emotional. Everyone in the room was singing, almost as loud as Andy and Tobi!
The band continued on with music from their second and last release. It was quite evident which of the songs was a single when they got to "Lost in Space". The crowd became apart of the Avantasia choir during "I don’t believe in your Love", which was very powerful live.
As time went on, Tobias mentioned he would again take us to the first album, and boy were we absolutely blessed with two songs from ‘The Metal Opera’, with "Avantasia", and "Serpents In Paradise". Following was "Promised Land" and then a small encore.
Yeah, we all knew the band would come back after the lights went out and everyone left the stage. I won’t even waste your time writing about that. Up next was "The Toy Master". In my opinion, this is one of the best songs on the new album, and when it started the toughest man there probably screamed as loud as a girl. It would have been better if Alice Cooper would have come out in a Top Hat, twirling a cane, but instead Tobi did, and everyone was pleased, regardless.
Good acting, great Cooper impersonation and great stage presence, as usual. Tobi delivered the goods and sang the entire song in his top hat and evil grin. The performance was very energetic and very different from all of the up-beat happy-go-lucky songs they played before it. Eventually the song faded into key pads, and the lights dimmed to blue. Sounds of a flute were released from the stage. I closed my eyes and for a moment doubted myself when I thought what the next song would be. Surely enough, the flutes morphed into "Farewell".
Amanda Somerville and Sammet, alone with Rosenburg took the crowd by surprise with one of the strongest performances of the night. Amanda, most recently recognized in the States as "Epica’s stand-in vocalist" played the role of Anna, Sharon Den Adel’s character (Within Temptation) on the first album. And although it would have also been great to see Sharon on stage during this song, based on what I saw and felt in that crowd, I don’t think anybody noticed. Amanda is too much of a good singer to be ignored.
After the duet, Tobi called it a night before introducing all of the band to the crowd. The boys went wild when Claudy and Amanda were introduced, and everyone shouted Sasha, Tobi, Andre and Jorn repeatedly during their introduction – not that any of these guys needed to be introduced. Sammet had a nice speech, made several jokes and assured the audience that if it were up to him, Avantasia would play for another two hours, however, by now, the night was over. Yet still anxious fans stood at the edge of their toes waiting to hear that last song of the night. And I believe everyone knew which one it would be.
Tobi, Jorn, Matos, Amanda, Claudy, Sascha, Olli, Michael, Felix and Robert, all together, with the crowd jumping, singing, smiling, clapping, laughing and having a great time during the grand finale of the obligatory "Sign Of The Cross" from ‘The Metal Opera’. There was no way this night would have ended without that song. And it ended with a bang, marking one of the most historical, unforgettable concerts to not only myself, but to many people. It was the topic of the majority of the conversations at the end of the night. Avantasia had made their mark in Mexico City and it will never be forgotten.
Switzerland, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Hungary are the only thirteen countries who were fortunate enough to catch this fantasy live. However, I hope next time I don’t have to fly to another country to see them live. If they do come to the States, I encourage everybody to go to the show. And despite all the rumors, Tobias went out of his way to make it clear and let everyone know that, "Despite what you hear, and what the assholes on blabbermouth say, I exclusively fuck women!!!!"
AVANTASIA – Circo Volador – Mexico City, Mexico – June 15, 2008
Another Angel Down
Reach Out For The Light
The Story Ain’t Over
Shelter From The Rain
Lost In Space
I Don’t Believe In Your Love
Serpents In Paradise
The Toy Master
Sign Of The Cross
Avantasia (Single) – 2001
The Metal Opera I – 2001
The Metal Opera II – 2002
Lost In Space I (EP) – 2007
Lost In Space II (EP) – 2007
The Scarecrow – 2008