Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review By Lord of The Wasteland
It might seem strange that a person who dislikes classical music would take an interest in Apocalyptica, the Finnish trio who mix classical with metal and hard rock, but for whatever reason, I can’t take my eyes off them when they are on stage. Maybe it’s the enigmatic presence of Antero Manninen, a stoic former full-time member who left the band but still plays live. Perhaps it’s the absence of vocals, guitar or keyboards (Apocalyptica’s live lineup features drummer Mikko Sirén alongside Manninen, Perttu Kivilaakso, Eicca Toppinen and Paavo Lötjönen on cello). Admittedly, the band first grabbed my attention—like most others—when they started busting out Metallica covers back in the mid-nineties but Apocalyptica wisely dropped the novelty act and began unleashing their own epic originals beginning with 2000’s CULT. Enlisting such metal luminaries as Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, Sepultura/Soulfly’s Max Cavalera and Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia, the band has branched out with each successive release, peaking with the brand-new WORLDS COLLIDE. Hitting Vancouver for the second time (read the review of Apocalyptica’s 2005 visit HERE), Apocalyptica once again brought out a diverse crowd to witness the union of classical music and heavy metal.
The four tall-backed skull chairs once again signified the meeting of the refined and the rowdy. As the lights lowered, each member of Apocalyptica took the stage at their rightful spot and kicked into the title track from the new CD. Toppinen and Kivilaakso move about the stage with regularity, headbanging and parcticisng the standard guitar hero moves, while Lötjönen is just as animated but never leaves his seat. At the opposite end of the scale is the nattily-dressed Manninen, who sits motionless and expressionless behind black sunglasses while cranking out traditional compositions. Manninen’s classic straight-man act is a great stage setup for the merciless Toppinen, who at one point referred to Manninen as “Action Jackson.” Enlisting former Fuel vocalist, Toryn Green, for current singles “I Don’t Care” and the Nine Inch Nails-like “I’m Not Jesus,” these fared the best while Nina Hagen’s absence on “Seemann” and Scabbia’s dark, haunting voice on “S.O.S. (Anything But Love)” show the limitations faced by the band when performing live. Still, the cerebral thrash of “Betrayal/Forgiveness” and the thick groove of “Last Hope” put to rest any doubts that cellos are not “heavy.” As will surely plague the band forevermore, the Metallica covers garnered the biggest reaction from the crowd as four of the veterans’ tracks were played. Despite being overplayed, “Enter Sandman” drew a hearty reception while “Nothing Else Matters,” featuring only the four cellos and an enthusiastic crowd sing-along, is exquisitely powerful live.
Fight Fire With Fire
S.O.S. (Anything But Love)
I Don’t Care
I’m Not Jesus
Seek & Destroy
Nothing Else Matters
Hall of the Mountain King
Many doubted Apocalyptica could succeed beyond being known as “those guys who play Metallica songs on cellos,” but their popularity continues to rise. WORLDS COLLIDE is a diverse release with plenty of bright moments and carefully-selected guest musicians to permeate several genres and markets, so there is no sign of slowing down, either. With a lengthy North American run under their belts, Apocalyptica is just one of those bands that everyone should see live once regardless of their musical tastes because it really is a stunning experience that will stick with you for a long time afterwards.
***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.