Sonata Arctica – headline
Acoustic Adventures European Tour 2019
Witherfall – support act
Palladium, Malmo, Sweden
15/3 – 2019
Live review and pictures by: Anders Sandvall
It’s been a while since Finnish melodic power metal act Sonata Arctica released their effort, 2016’s THE NINTH HOUR. Despite that, the band’s out touring a lot during the last year. Now the band is trying something new with a strictly acoustic tour named Acoustic Adventures European Tour, kicking off in Norway at the middle of March 2019. This summer the band will be out performing at festivals across Europe and then heading over to North America supporting Kamelot on tour. The place for the Malmo show was the old Palladium theater, located in the central part of the city. The venue opened back in the 1920’s and has hosted many shows, as well a theater and a cinema. Nowadays the place hosts selected shows and can inhabit a bit over 500 people.
Even before the tour began, the band managed to sell out shows in Oslo, Stockholm, and Stuttgart. The show in Malmo was nearly sold out so I guess the fans wanted to hear and see the band live on stage. The show took place on a Friday night and since I’d never been inside the Palladium before, I was eager to see what the place looked like from the inside. To be honest I hadn’t heard about the support act Witherfall before but I guess one can’t keep track of all the bands in the world.
When I arrived to the venue about 30 minutes before the doors opened there wasn’t a line, which was good because it had been raining like crazy in Malmo the entire week prior, so it was a bit cold and gloomy to stay and wait for the doors to open. As always, photographers were allowed to shoot the first three songs of the show. Because it was a seated show, we weren’t allowed to stand and block the crowds’ view. The lobby outside the venue started to fill up with fans and I could hear that a few Danish fans also had come over to Sweden to see the show.
When the doors opened, people ran to the front of the stage in order to come as close to the band they could, the balconies also filled up pretty fast. Apparently when you bought the tickets they seated you, but when the fans arrived to the venue the crew told everyone that it was free seating, so people ran inside to get the best seating. The ones that showed up late thinking they had a good seat on their tickets became a bit angry and frustrated when they realized what happened. The first call in the lobby that marked the beginning of the show was heard, and a little late, about 5-10 minutes it was time for Witherfall to open the night.
The members walked out on stage and sat down and fired off the first song for the night. It felt a bit strange to see a band sit down and play in front of a seated audience, however it was cool to experience it. It wasn’t a strictly acoustic performance, the band used electric guitar and bass.
Doing some research on the band, I knew that the guys are from Los Angeles and formed the band in 2013. Their songs are pretty long and included some extended guitar and keyboard solos, which I’m not a fan of. On the positive side, all of the members were skilled musicians and it felt like they really enjoyed performing live in a more intimate and semi-acoustic way. The band’s weakest link was unfortunately the singer; he had a really limited vocal range that didn’t do the music justice. A bass solo followed by a guitar solo and a shorter percussion solo continued the show, after which the singer introduced the members to the crowd. He said the band was joined on stage by session keyboard and percussion players and thanked the fans for their support. Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” followed, after which the band ended the show with a medley.
The 45-minute show didn’t seem to impress the crowd much as they were waiting for the headline act. They clapped their hands after each song but no one seemed to be really enthusiastic. I agree with the crowd; the music was OK but the vocals weren’t good and I lost interest in the music quickly. Then again, it’s hard to say something when you haven’t heard the music before and plugged in. I do give the band credit for having the guts to strip down their songs to acoustic versions.
The crew began to prepare the stage for the headline act and a backdrop with a wolf was hung up at the back of the stage. Chairs, instruments and mics came on and as the crew worked parts of the audience went out into the lobby to catch some air before the main show started. It took about 30 minutes until the stage was ready for Sonata Arctica and the audience, that consisted mainly of 40+ people and a lot of women made their way back into the hall to see the show that kicked off at about 8.10.
The band made their way on to the stage to the sound of the intro music. They sat down and began the show with “Life”. Tony Kakko had the audience clap their hands straight away. “Thanks”, Kakko said in Swedish, until he switched to English saying, “We are Sonata Arctica and it’s fun to be here tonight. We are going to do a little different show for you all tonight, we are going to play both older as well as more current songs for you tonight, here is “Only the Broken Hearts (Make You Beautiful)”. Line up in the band is:
Tommy Partimo – drums
Tony Kakko – lead vocals
Henrik Klingenberg – keyboard
Elias Viljanen – guitar
Pasi Kauppinen – bass
(plus a session member on guitar/flute etc, don’t know his name)
I saw a guy sitting on his chair head banging his heart out which looked interesting; not a thing you normally see during a metal concert. Kakko had trouble sitting still and walked up and down encouraging the audience to give it their all. “Half a Marathon Man” followed and to be honest it was a bit hard to hear which song they were playing because of the acoustic approach. Kakko said that the next song was released 2013 “which isn’t that long ago”, and laughed, “well to be honest it is a while back, here is “The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me”. Kakko looked really happy with the support from the crowd when he announced “As is if the World Wasn’t Ending” which was followed straight away with “Fullmoon”. Kakko had the fans sing the chorus and it felt like this was the song many had been longing to hear. “Thanks you all, you are great at singing”, he said, ‘The next song is 23 years old and it was the first song I wrote for the band, here is “Letter to Dana”. Both that song and “Fullmoon” are taken from the band’s 1999 debut ECLIPTICA and the fans seemed to be loving the old songs quite heavily.
Viljanen and Kauppinen played electric bass and guitar so it wasn’t entirely acoustic and Partimo switched in between his drums and percussion. The band didn’t stand on a stage but on the floor just in front of the audience, which made it a very intimate performance.
“Alone in Heaven” followed and to the fans delight, Kakko once again left his chair and wandered out to come closer to the crowd. The band’s own photographer rushed out and took a picture of Kakko and the fans together while the rest of the band walked off stage except for Viljanen and Kakko. “On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)” followed and the two ran through the first verse together until the rest of the band came back and joined in. “The next song is taken from SILENCE and is the second single from it, here is “Wolf and Raven”. Kakko had the fans to clap their hands and sing along with him and Klingenberg threw a keyboard solo in the middle. He dedicated “I Have a Right” to all children in the world and the fans really appreciated the classic piece. It’s also a personal favorite song of mine and I think it speaks to the heart and the guys managed to strip it down to a beautiful acoustic version.
The song would be perfect for a hymn or special song for organizations that work with children in need and to raise money for their cause.
“It’s great fun to be here tonight”, Kakko said, “and now it’s time for us to play something different for you all. We don’t usually play this song live but here it is, “Black Sheep”. Next up was “Among the Shooting Stars” and “Tallulah” in which Kakko had the fans sing the chorus with him.
Before the next song started Kakko went around asking the members what the first car they ever bought was. When everyone had answered Kakko said, “Well I hope your cars all are “Paid in Full”, which woke up the majority of the crowd. “Now we have another story for you to hear, it’s a song about wealth and crusaders in “Flag in the Ground”. That song also ended the 90 minute show and Kakko and the rest of the band thanked the fans and walked off the stage.
Of course the fans wanted to hear more and Kakko and Viljanen returned to play “Victoria’s Secret” as the first encore. It was a brilliant version where Kakko showed off his amazing vocal abilities. The band truly managed to mix old and newer songs into a fantastic set list. The unusual choice in “The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me” (b-side to the “Shamandalie” single) followed and it was cool that the guys had the guts to try on an unexpected song. Kakko introduced the rest band while drummer Portimo came down and introduced Kakko, who took the mic back to thank the fans yet again for an amazing night. “It would have been impossible to do a live show without our amazing fans, you mean everything to us and without you we wouldn’t be able to go out on tour”. The last song for the night was “The Wolves Die Young” from 2014’s PARIAH’S CHILD. The guys took a band picture and then the night was over.
What an amazing night this was, the band did an amazing job stripping down the songs, proving they work really well in that format. It was also impressive how they managed to adapt the songs into a slower tempo. The sound system worked in favor of the band and the venue sure brought some atmosphere to the event. I really hope that Sonata Arctica take the opportunity to shoot some of the shows for a live DVD/CD so all of their fans have a chance to experience their acoustic mastery. It felt like all the fans in the venue were as happy and content as me when we left the building. I tip my imaginary hat off for Sonata Arctica that made this night possible and thanks to the staff at Kulturbolaget for bringing this acoustical evening to Malmo.
Only the Broken Hearts
Half a Marathon Man
The Rest of the Sun Belongs To Me
As If the World Wasn’t Ending
Letter to Dana
Alone in Heaven
On the Faultline
Wolf and Raven
I Have A Right
Among the Shooting Stars
Paid In Full
Flag In the Ground
The Wolves Die Young
Thanks to head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren for help with press/photo pass
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the Palladium.
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