19’th of February 2007
Review and pictures by Marko Syrjälä and Jarno Huovila
On February 19th, the long-held hopes of many fans were realized when Arjen Anthony Lucassen and his entourage, despite being severely delayed by snowstorms in Denmark, arrived in Helsinki for their FIRST EVER GIG in Finland (or even anywhere in the close vicinity, for that matter). The show was billed as STREAM OF PASSION/AYREON, which was fitting in addition to eight of the twelve tracks from SOP’s “Embrace the Storm” album, nine AYREON songs were played as well as a few tracks from Arjen’s other projects, most notably STAR ONE. Making the occasion even more precious for some must have been the knowledge that after this short tour, the band would be put on ice while Mr. Lucassen would once again be concentrating his efforts on conjuring up yet another AYREON masterpiece and after that, possibly, a sequel for the much-lauded STAR ONE project.
The STREAM OF PASSION band comprising of Marcela Bovio (vocals/violin), Arjen Lucassen (guitar), Lori Linstruth (guitar), Johan van Stratum (bass), Alejandro Millán (piano), and Davy Mickers (drums) were exclusively at this gig joined by an extraordinary surprise guest. The guest turned out to be none other than Arjen’s compatriot Robert Soeterboek, know to many from AYREON’s “The Final Experiment” (1995), “Actual Fantasy” (1996), and “The Flight of the Migrator” (2000) albums as well as the “STAR ONE – Live on Earth” (2003) CD/DVD. Robert took on the lead vocals for spectacular renditions of “High Moon” from “STAR ONE – Space Metal” (2002), “Into the Black Hole” from the “Flight of the Migrator” (2000), and finally “The Castle Hall” from “Into the Electric Castle” (1998) album.
Also joining the band on tour was Marcela’s sister Diana Bovio on backing vocals. During one of the many highlights of the show Diana also shared the lead vocal duties on the “Valley of the Queens” track. Marcela Bovio originally appeared as part of the cast on the latest AYREON album, “Human Equation” (2004). It was, therefore, not a stretch to expect songs from that particular album to be heavily featured in the setlist, and indeed, four of the nine AYREON songs showcased during the show were pulled from that album.
For the most part, the audience seemed more familiar with the AYREON material, as was to be expected. In all honesty, regardless of the many talents of the personnel involved, I prefer AYREON’s output from “Into the Electric Castle” onwards to the STREAM OF PASSION material. A matter of taste, perhaps, but despite the seemingly perfect execution, STREAM OF PASSION’s originality and variety sometimes leave something to be desired. From the music to the actual appearance of the members, comparisons to Evanescence would hardly seem far-fetched.
All in all, a fantastic night for the band and fans of AYREON and STREAM OF PASSION alike. Not only were the players and the songs top-notch, but the general atmosphere was also very special as well. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves, and Arjen proved once more what a charismatic live performer he is. One of the biggest and happiest surprises of the evening was the massive turnout of enthusiastic fans leading to the venue busting at the seams, and the place was completely sold out. Clearly, Arjen has built himself a pretty impressive cult following with his continuing efforts, which hopefully bodes well for future gigs, which most likely would be with AYREON because it was announced that this tour would be his last with STREAM OF PASSION. The story continues.
SPECIAL THANKS TO TUULA SALMINEN FROM SPINEFARM !!!
The setlist for the evening was:
02. Day Fourteen: Pride
04. Wherever You Are
05. Computer Eyes
06. Valley of the Queens
08. High Moon
09. Deceiver / Songs of the Ocean
10. Day One: Vigil
11. Day Three: Pain
12. To the Quasar
13. Open Your Eyes
14. Out in the Real World
15. The Castle Hall
16. Into the Black Hole / Cold Metal
17. Day Eleven: Love
18. Are Friends Electric