Concert Reviews

Stratovarius / Rhapsody / Sonata Arctica

LIVE: April 23rd, 2000, Petofi Hall, Budapest, Hungary

Melodic metal is back, there's no doubt. Two or three years only a select few knew about Rhapsody, and Stratovarius was basically known only for the most obsessed and fanatic fans of melodic music. These two bands, and the young Finnish Sonata Arctica were able to fill up a sport hall. It indicates not only that the old fans of metal still live but that they aren’t narrow-minded and are open for new bands. The presence of many 18-20 year old kids displayed that a new generation has been born which expect the singer to sing and the musicians to be the masters of their instruments. They want to get not just howling, screaming....but music in the proper sense of the word. This should be a serious notice for the publishers and the concert organizers. Hopefully they got it.

The surprisingly young members of the Sonata Arctica – except for the continuously smiling guitarist – seemed to be quite embarrassed but it was just the surface, because the musical production itself was perfect! They must have been excited about the large stage, the thousands of people – these were the reasons for loitering and the confused smiles. But they can play, that’s for sure, and they will get used to this situation. The guys played about seven songs from their awesome debut album titled Ecliptica (but I missed my favorite one, "Blank File"), and they did it on the highest quality. The audience liked them very much but it was natural because they were very charming. The whole band – completed with the keyboard player from Kenziner – played very well; if they can grow out of their stage fright, they could be the next surprise in the world of European melodic metal music.

The next band was Rhapsody, and unfortunately they were somewhat disappointing. I knew very well that the reproduction of their complex, orchestral sound is nearly impossible, but the sound was full of noises and not clear enough. The image of the guitarist Luca Turilli was strange and sometimes I missed the precision and the confidence from their achievement, and Fabio didn’t reach the same high standard as on their albums. OK, I know that it is their first serious tour so I’m sure they will be much better on stage soon. First of all they have to be more confident, and make some corrections on their live performance. I would be unfair if I wouldn’t praise the sympathetic keyboard player, Alex Staropoli, for his excellent performance and bass player (who looked like a thrasher with his maniac headbanging) for his enthusiasm. For me they were the highlights of the show of Rhapsody. (The band was helped out with a guitarist who is a member of the French band Dream Child.) Short conclusion: Rhapsody is a very good and exciting band on their albums, but they have to develop on their live performance.

The highlight of the evening, the Finnish Stratovarius was in excellent and overwhelming form; the members of Iron Maiden – who will arrive in Hungary soon – will be in a difficult situation if they want to surpass it. The band started its program with the killer double-pack of "Hunting High And Low" and "Millennium;" I was totally shocked by their dynamism and energy, and the album-quality sound. My first impression about the band was the fact that they want to keep distance between themselves and many other bands whose music and lyrics are full of blood, dragons, knights and other stereotypes. We can feel it hearing their music (with its progressive touches), reading their lyrics and looking at their photos and album covers. They have some evident musical influences (Helloween, Malmsteen, etc.), although they are more than many other bands (both musically and lyrically), and they have their own style. In their case it could be the key for surviving. This boom of traditional metal – what is characteristic nowadays – will end sometime, and those bands will survive, which will have never-changing messages and values. Just like Stratovarius…

And what about the concert? It was totally shocking, beautiful and excellent. Seriously. The sound was very good and crystal clear, the projection and the lighting were impressive, as I expected. But the performance of the musicians was the Miracle itself! Timo Kotipelto sang better than on the albums, his voice was in its best form and his screams were as slicing as a blade made of steel! He is an optimal frontman for Stratovarius: his voice is excellent, his personality is very sympathetic, and he is full of energy and enthusiasm. The other Timo, the guitarist Timo Tolkki was not as dynamic as the lead singer, but he played very well and entered into the spirit of playing his guitar. Jari, the bass player was a little bit low-key, too, but he seemed to be happy playing his parts on his bass guitar. The keyboard player, the one and only Jens Johansson played unbelievably. Jens is not just an excellent musician, but a sympathetic guy, a really bohemian rocker. But the main surprise for me was the German drummer, Jörg Michael. His arms and feet moved with unbelievable speed, he gave huge energy to the band with his energetic style. And he not just simply played song after song, but he played with the rhythms in the proper sense of the word. In my opinion he is the best European metal drummer in this period of time.

The live set was chosen from those five albums which were recorded with Timo Kotipelto; and of course mainly from the new material and the Visions album. (From the Destiny album the guys played only one song, S.O.S. I like that CD very much, so I was a little bit disappointed about it…) In spite of these gaps the set was perfect: it was fantastic to hear the songs like Infinity (the most remarkable moment of the gig!), Father Time, Speed Of Light, Phoenix (with those killer staccato riffs!), the acoustic ballad Forever, the epic and monumental Mother Gaia, Paradise and so on. It was an unforgettable evening, every moment of this show was an exciting experience. The audience was very powerful and enthusiastic, there was a strange and magical interaction between the five musicians and the audience. They also felt it, because they were continuously smiling during and between the songs.

After the encore (Paradise) we went out of the hall tired and exhausted, but filled with positive energy and the feeling of Health. I think this feeling should follow every metal concert, because this is the aim of it. If there were a Stratovarius gig on this weekend, I would buy my ticket for it without hesitating. During the years I saw many fantastic concerts, but this show was one of the most unforgettable concerts I’ve ever seen.

ALL photos ©Metal-Rules.com and David Z./Concerto

Rhapsody Live

rhapsody1.jpg (33453 bytes)

rhapsody2.jpg (30586 bytes)

rhapsody3.jpg (31665 bytes)

rhapsody10.jpg (45188 bytes)

rhapsody6.jpg (39211 bytes)

rhapsody5.jpg (46510 bytes)

rhapsody9.jpg (56283 bytes)

rhapsody4.jpg (38471 bytes)


Stratovarius Live

strato1.jpg (32439 bytes)

strato10.jpg (60121 bytes)

strato11.jpg (43803 bytes)

strato12.jpg (55521 bytes)

strato13.jpg (59145 bytes)

strato2.jpg (55530 bytes)

strato3.jpg (48079 bytes)

strato4.jpg (38933 bytes)

strato5.jpg (41785 bytes)

strato6.jpg (57009 bytes)

strato7.jpg (41110 bytes)

strato8.jpg (36873 bytes)

strato9.jpg (36259 bytes)


Sonata Arctica Live

sonata1.jpg (41429 bytes)

sonata2.jpg (42241 bytes)

sonata4.jpg (52457 bytes)

sonata7.jpg (53198 bytes)

sonata5.jpg (67597 bytes)

sonata6.jpg (56814 bytes)

sonata3.jpg (47269 bytes)


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All rights reserved and contents ©1995-2000.
Keeping the Metal Faith Since 1995.

This page last updated on:
Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Metal Rules!!: Heavy Metal Concert Reviews Stratovarius / Rhapsody / Sonata Arctica  

Concert Reviews

Stratovarius / Rhapsody / Sonata Arctica

LIVE: April 23rd, 2000, Petofi Hall, Budapest, Hungary

Melodic metal is back, there's no doubt. Two or three years only a select few knew about Rhapsody, and Stratovarius was basically known only for the most obsessed and fanatic fans of melodic music. These two bands, and the young Finnish Sonata Arctica were able to fill up a sport hall. It indicates not only that the old fans of metal still live but that they aren’t narrow-minded and are open for new bands. The presence of many 18-20 year old kids displayed that a new generation has been born which expect the singer to sing and the musicians to be the masters of their instruments. They want to get not just howling, screaming....but music in the proper sense of the word. This should be a serious notice for the publishers and the concert organizers. Hopefully they got it.

The surprisingly young members of the Sonata Arctica – except for the continuously smiling guitarist – seemed to be quite embarrassed but it was just the surface, because the musical production itself was perfect! They must have been excited about the large stage, the thousands of people – these were the reasons for loitering and the confused smiles. But they can play, that’s for sure, and they will get used to this situation. The guys played about seven songs from their awesome debut album titled Ecliptica (but I missed my favorite one, "Blank File"), and they did it on the highest quality. The audience liked them very much but it was natural because they were very charming. The whole band – completed with the keyboard player from Kenziner – played very well; if they can grow out of their stage fright, they could be the next surprise in the world of European melodic metal music.

The next band was Rhapsody, and unfortunately they were somewhat disappointing. I knew very well that the reproduction of their complex, orchestral sound is nearly impossible, but the sound was full of noises and not clear enough. The image of the guitarist Luca Turilli was strange and sometimes I missed the precision and the confidence from their achievement, and Fabio didn’t reach the same high standard as on their albums. OK, I know that it is their first serious tour so I’m sure they will be much better on stage soon. First of all they have to be more confident, and make some corrections on their live performance. I would be unfair if I wouldn’t praise the sympathetic keyboard player, Alex Staropoli, for his excellent performance and bass player (who looked like a thrasher with his maniac headbanging) for his enthusiasm. For me they were the highlights of the show of Rhapsody. (The band was helped out with a guitarist who is a member of the French band Dream Child.) Short conclusion: Rhapsody is a very good and exciting band on their albums, but they have to develop on their live performance.

The highlight of the evening, the Finnish Stratovarius was in excellent and overwhelming form; the members of Iron Maiden – who will arrive in Hungary soon – will be in a difficult situation if they want to surpass it. The band started its program with the killer double-pack of "Hunting High And Low" and "Millennium;" I was totally shocked by their dynamism and energy, and the album-quality sound. My first impression about the band was the fact that they want to keep distance between themselves and many other bands whose music and lyrics are full of blood, dragons, knights and other stereotypes. We can feel it hearing their music (with its progressive touches), reading their lyrics and looking at their photos and album covers. They have some evident musical influences (Helloween, Malmsteen, etc.), although they are more than many other bands (both musically and lyrically), and they have their own style. In their case it could be the key for surviving. This boom of traditional metal – what is characteristic nowadays – will end sometime, and those bands will survive, which will have never-changing messages and values. Just like Stratovarius…

And what about the concert? It was totally shocking, beautiful and excellent. Seriously. The sound was very good and crystal clear, the projection and the lighting were impressive, as I expected. But the performance of the musicians was the Miracle itself! Timo Kotipelto sang better than on the albums, his voice was in its best form and his screams were as slicing as a blade made of steel! He is an optimal frontman for Stratovarius: his voice is excellent, his personality is very sympathetic, and he is full of energy and enthusiasm. The other Timo, the guitarist Timo Tolkki was not as dynamic as the lead singer, but he played very well and entered into the spirit of playing his guitar. Jari, the bass player was a little bit low-key, too, but he seemed to be happy playing his parts on his bass guitar. The keyboard player, the one and only Jens Johansson played unbelievably. Jens is not just an excellent musician, but a sympathetic guy, a really bohemian rocker. But the main surprise for me was the German drummer, Jörg Michael. His arms and feet moved with unbelievable speed, he gave huge energy to the band with his energetic style. And he not just simply played song after song, but he played with the rhythms in the proper sense of the word. In my opinion he is the best European metal drummer in this period of time.

The live set was chosen from those five albums which were recorded with Timo Kotipelto; and of course mainly from the new material and the Visions album. (From the Destiny album the guys played only one song, S.O.S. I like that CD very much, so I was a little bit disappointed about it…) In spite of these gaps the set was perfect: it was fantastic to hear the songs like Infinity (the most remarkable moment of the gig!), Father Time, Speed Of Light, Phoenix (with those killer staccato riffs!), the acoustic ballad Forever, the epic and monumental Mother Gaia, Paradise and so on. It was an unforgettable evening, every moment of this show was an exciting experience. The audience was very powerful and enthusiastic, there was a strange and magical interaction between the five musicians and the audience. They also felt it, because they were continuously smiling during and between the songs.

After the encore (Paradise) we went out of the hall tired and exhausted, but filled with positive energy and the feeling of Health. I think this feeling should follow every metal concert, because this is the aim of it. If there were a Stratovarius gig on this weekend, I would buy my ticket for it without hesitating. During the years I saw many fantastic concerts, but this show was one of the most unforgettable concerts I’ve ever seen.

ALL photos ©Metal-Rules.com and David Z./Concerto

Rhapsody Live

rhapsody1.jpg (33453 bytes)

rhapsody2.jpg (30586 bytes)

rhapsody3.jpg (31665 bytes)

rhapsody10.jpg (45188 bytes)

rhapsody6.jpg (39211 bytes)

rhapsody5.jpg (46510 bytes)

rhapsody9.jpg (56283 bytes)

rhapsody4.jpg (38471 bytes)


Stratovarius Live

strato1.jpg (32439 bytes)

strato10.jpg (60121 bytes)

strato11.jpg (43803 bytes)

strato12.jpg (55521 bytes)

strato13.jpg (59145 bytes)

strato2.jpg (55530 bytes)

strato3.jpg (48079 bytes)

strato4.jpg (38933 bytes)

strato5.jpg (41785 bytes)

strato6.jpg (57009 bytes)

strato7.jpg (41110 bytes)

strato8.jpg (36873 bytes)

strato9.jpg (36259 bytes)


Sonata Arctica Live

sonata1.jpg (41429 bytes)

sonata2.jpg (42241 bytes)

sonata4.jpg (52457 bytes)

sonata7.jpg (53198 bytes)

sonata5.jpg (67597 bytes)

sonata6.jpg (56814 bytes)

sonata3.jpg (47269 bytes)


Return to top of page

All rights reserved and contents ©1995-2000.
Keeping the Metal Faith Since 1995.

This page last updated on:
Wednesday, December 26, 2001