@ The Forum, London
8th March 2016
Review by Oliver M.
Photography by Graham Hilling
Tobias Sammet has always been a very busy artist. It must have been very hard for him to manage both Edguy and Avantasia through the years. Since 2005, it seems he has been giving much more effort and importance to his colossal rock opera project compared to his main band.
That’s one of the reasons why Edguy’s recent works weren’t convincing at all. Musicians can’t always feel 100% inspired when they write songs for more than one act and sometimes, they have to make a choice in terms of dedication. “Mandrake” will forever be Edguy’s ultimate masterpiece.
It’s disappointing to notice they’ve never been able to release any outstanding album since its release in 2001.
While Edguy’s music was declining progressively, Avantasia have been growing like hell! Tobias Sammet has done seven great albums with his rock opera project so far.
He has been working with loads of talented musicians and even some hard rock/metal legends. I’m not going to provide the full list of artists as it’s simply too long.
Of course, this made Avantasia so special in the last 15 years. When you look at the complete line-up of each album, you understand it’s difficult not to fall under the charm of this rock opera supergroup.
Since its release through Nuclear Blast in January this year, “Ghostlights” has been unanimously praised by the critics and a commercial success until now. In my opinion, this seventh opus is clearly a masterpiece and its current triumph is entirely deserved. Tobias Sammet and all artists/musicians who contributed to “Ghostlights” did an amazing job.
Avantasia are currently on tour throughout the world to promote this new jewel. At the moment I’m writing this review, they got 16 sold out concerts until now, which is impressive.
That proves this project has become a reference for any fans of hard rock and power metal music. As always, the United Kingdom got one date in London only and that’s all.
This is the usual rule for every power metal band playing there, even though there were a few exceptions in the past.
The Ghostlights World Tour 2016 is their biggest one so far. There is no support band at all. Tobias decided they would perform 3 hour shows for this world tour, which is huge. Playing Symphonic power metal & hard rock for 3 hours and almost every day must be very exhausting.
Fortunately, they all have a great experience in extensive touring. As expected, this London gig was sold out and the Avantasia troupe delivered a phenomenal live performance at the O2 Forum Kentish Town.
Charismatic vocalist Tobias Sammet conquered the whole crowd thanks to his impressive high-pitched voice and good sense of humour. He has always had this ability to entertain the audience by saying some inspired jokes.
This is something typical in the German Power metal scene. Virtuoso Sascha Paeth offered some astonishing guitar solos throughout the show along with Oliver Hartmann (ex-At Vance). It’s great to see that Sascha is still brilliant on stage.
He’s an institution in the entire Power metal scene. Mainly known for being Heavens Gate guitarist, this multi-instrumentalist has been playing for many fantastic bands such as Gamma Ray, Angra, Rhapsody, Kamelot, Edguy, Luca Turilli, Shaman, etc.
He has also produced plenty of heavy/power metal albums for various acts (including masterpieces of the genre). Edguy’s drummer Felix Bohnke was irreproachable and seemed to feel very comfortable, but this isn’t the case anymore when he’s playing with his main band.
Indeed, he can perform more technical parts with Avantasia by using frequently double bass drumming. Michael “Miro” Rodenberg’s keyboards and orchestrations were absolutely epic just like the majestic scenery with its long stairs where came all guest performers.
The troupe played 25 songs that night, spanning their complete discography. They offered several classics (“Farewell”, “Reach Out for the Light”, “Avantasia”, “Sign of the Cross”, “The Seven Angels”) to the great satisfaction of their fans.
Moreover, let’s not forget the guests! What a dream team! Despite being 48, Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) is still in great shape and provided some incredible vocals on a few tracks.
He will forever be THE ideal power metal singer even though some artists like Andre Matos (Viper, ex-Angra, Shaman), Dan Keying (Cydonia) and a few others can reach his level.
The crowd was blown away by his performance as many fans were even chanting his name for a brief moment. There were also some very talented singers who also deserved total respect: Jørn Lande (ex-Ark, Masterplan), Bob Catley (Magnum), Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids), the beautiful Amanda Somerville and Herbie Langhans (who added an excellent gothic touch on the fascinating “Draconian Love”).
A night to remember. This will be perhaps the last Avantasia world tour. If you haven’t seen them live yet, try to catch them as soon as you can!