@ Arena Riga, Latvia
22nd March, 2014
Review by Anna Dumpe
Photography by Oskars Kupse
Smaller European countries like Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia don’t always seem to get as many exciting bands passing through to perform, but when they do, it’s sure not a thing to miss out on.
Back in 2013 Latvian rock fans were pleased to find out that Finnish rockers Apocalyptica will be packing up their cellos and stopping by to play a show in Riga. To make such news even more exciting Apocalyptica announced that they will be bringing along Avanti! Chamber Orchestra.
On an evening of March 22nd, 2014 we had the opportunity and privilege to be nowhere else but Riga and experience the magic of heavy metal meeting classical music for ourselves.
Apocalyptica take the stage in Riga to kick things off with ‘Čohkka’ and make it a quite dramatic start of the show. The band is greeted by a slightly small, yet loud enough, crowd as the room is still looking half empty due to an early start of the show and no opening act. That, obviously, does not seem to intimidate anyone present on the stage, as Apocalyptica and Avanti! Symphonic orchestra behind them warm up for a night of kicking some serious ass playing nothing but classical music. …and some Metallica, of course.
After slightly blowing everyone’s mind and not holding back with ‘Burn’ and ‘Quutamo’, Apocalyptica and Avanti! orchestra get serious with ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ (originally by Metallica) and demonstrate great energy, majestic sound, speed and technique accompanied by powerful drumming by Mikko Sirén and fast chello riffs by Eicca Toppinen to please anyone from die-hard Metallica fan to Classical music expert.
Apocalyptica bring things down with ‘Peace’ and finally introduce ‘Birth Pain’ off their latest album Wagner Reloaded – Live in Leipzig, which was released to celebrate Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday and recorded during two live performances in Wagner’s birthplace Leipzig on July the 5th and 6th, 2013.
Coming across as a laid back and tight sounding bunch of dudes, Apocalyptica sure don’t need to prove much for us to realize that they’re the best in the game, as tonight they put on a performance sounding larger than life. Focusing on great dynamics, huge sound, sharp contrasts and emotional escalations Apocalyptica deliver an epic first part of the show to shake up the stiff Latvian audience just right and leave the stage for a well deserved break of coffee, soda or some cognac (if you’re ‘heavy metal’ like that).
The second part of the show begins in lot more melancholic manner and can be perceived as ‘calm before a great storm’ as Perttu Kivilaakso kicks it off by performing ‘Psalm’ and is joined on stage by the rest of the guys for ‘Lullaby’ off Wagner Reloaded – Live in Leipzig.
To bring things down even more, Apocalyptica lads throw in one of their biggest hits ‘Bittersweet’, which is originally performed with two of Finland’s favorite rock singers – Ville Valo (HIM) and Lauri Ylönen (The Rasmus). The beginning of the second part of the show stands out with noticeably less dynamics and more lyrical, slow tempo compositions, yet still manages to build great musical tension to make the ground shake.
The Latvian crowd seemingly warms up throughout the 2nd part of the performance and Apocalyptica get back to heavier sound with ‘Worlds Collide’ and ‘Path,’ which gives us a chance to witness the guys of orchestra’s brass section throw devil horns during a song for the first time. Now that’s badass, ladies and gents.
As the tension in the room keeps building and the show gets bigger and more intense with each song, Apocalyptica throw in ‘Ludwig –Wonderland’ – another composition from their latest album Wagner Reloaded – Live in Leipzig causing Perttu Kivilaakso drop on the floor just to continue playing and demonstrate his passion and mind-blowing skills as a cellist.
When it’s time for Perttu Kivilaakso to introduce the band, he makes sure to mention that tonight’s show proves that nowadays it’s all about Sex, Drugs & Classical Music. When he also declares that it’s now time for some real heavy metal and the last song of the night, the crowd gets up from their seats and move towards the stage for some good old head-banging action to ‘Inquisition Symphony’ (originally by Sepultura). Maybe all that the conservative crowd of Latvia needed was those few beers to finally let loose?
But that’s not just it for tonight as Apocalyptica guys return for an encore of ‘Nothing Else Matters’ (originally by Metallica), which comes as no surprise, yet pleases the crowd like no other composition and sees everyone in the room join in to sing the chorus.
Apocalyptica finish their set with one of the greatest classical music compositions of all time that has come from nowhere else but the land of Black Metal – Edvard Grieg’s ‘Hall of the Mountain King’. Apocalyptica make sure not to let us down one last time with their spectacular arrangement of the composition making it sound simply immense. There could not be a better way to end such rocking night.
Fight Fire With Fire (Metallica cover)
Rage of Poseidon
Ludwig – Wonderland
At the Gates of Manala
Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)
Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
I Don’t Care
Hall of the Mountain King