SYMPHONY X – Live at the Circus, Helsinki

Spread the metal:

SYMPHONY X

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA

US progressive metal giant Symphony X has finally returned on stage after a three-year hiatus. It seems that a little break has made only good for the band since Symphony X now sold over 1500 tickets for the Circus in advance. The concert was completely sold out, and it is an excellent result because the band has never played their headline gigs in such significant places in Finland before. The support band on this tour was Savage Messiah from the UK.

I don’t know the statistics of this tour and how it has been doing in other countries, but it seems that Finland is now full of fans of progressive metal. This show was initially planned to be held in Club Nosturi, with a capacity of 700 people, but the concert was moved to the Circus with half more capacity because of massive demand. And it still sold out, leaving several fans out in the cold to wait for the next run of dates, which will probably happen sooner than later. However, it’s great to see that older bands who are not commercial at any level can still sell this amount of tickets these days. It’s just brilliant, I think.

I arrived at the venue just a couple of minutes before Symphony X hit the stage on time and set the tone for the evening by opening with an epic “Iconoclast.” Some might think it a bit lengthy for an opening track in a live setting at nearly ten minutes long, but the crowd seems to know every word and headbanged to every note. From the opening verse, Russell Allen showed how to be the perfect frontman. He engaged with the crowd, used his stunning vocal range, and looked like he had a great time on stage. After the ten-minute marathon was over, “Iconoclast” gave way to the old classic “Evolution (The Grand Design,” one of the tracks from “V: The New Mythology Suite” -album (2000), followed by “Serpent’s Kiss” from “Paradise Lost” (2007)

This current tour is the band’s first in two years, and because the group has no new album to support, they’re now playing a kind of “Best of” set instead. Symphony X’s case means playing the self-explanatory and mandatory hits and songs that are rarely performed live. The set’s last song was an epic “Odyssey,” a massive 24 -minute long boulder, which still doesn’t have a dull moment on it. It’s a stunning song, and so was the performance by the fantastic band.

In my opinion, this band is captivating live much better than they sound on records, and it is challenging to pick concert highlights. Already mentioned, “Odyssey” was one of those, and another one was the old classic “Sea of Lies.” As said before, Russel was on fire through the set, and so was the band’s leading musical maestro Michael Romeo. If you ask me, Romeo is a criminally underrated guitarist, and he’s capable of playing almost anything, with any style if needed. It was pure magic to watch his flashing and ingenious playing through the set. The rest of the band stayed more in the background, behind the two main guys, but especially drummer Jason Rullo showed many times that although he had serious health issues in the past, the talent is not lost. He presented powerful, splashy, and skillful drumming from start to finish.

It was fun to notice that former Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki was in the audience. Maybe a show like this will give him extra motivation to make a decent comeback on stages very soon. Only time will tell that, but all in all, Symphony X proved that progressive metal is still alive and well. The band and crowd fed off each other all night, resulting in dominant performance and enjoyment levels from all concerned. I can’t wait for the next time already!

THE SETLIST

Iconoclast
Evolution (The Grand Design)
Serpent’s Kiss
Nevermore
Without You
Domination
Run With the Devil
Sea of Lies
Set the World on Fire (The Lie of Lies)
The Odyssey

OFFICIAL SYMPHONY X WEBPAGE

SYMPHONY X ON FACEBOOK

GREYBEARD BOOKING AND MANAGEMENT

TUSKALIVE CONCERT AND FESTIVAL ORGANIZER

LIVE PHOTOS FROM THE CIRCUS