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Review: Sonata Arctica - Sonata Arctica Tour 2014
Sonata Arctica
Sonata Arctica Tour 2014
Venue: Palladium
City: Worcester, MA

Show date: September 06, 2014
  • Delain
  • Xandria

Review online: September 8, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers Rating
Sonata Arctica Tour 2014

Rated 3.09/5 (61.82%) (11 Votes)

It was a regular invasion of European Power Metal bands on Saturday, September 6th, 2014 in Worcester, Massachusetts. It isn't often we get even one decent Power Metal band to visit this former mill city in the heart of the state (though the superlative Armory is from the nearby town of Townsend), let alone three. Usually, one or two bands will join a "festival" like the New England Hardcore and Heavy Metal shows that take place each spring. "Hardcore" isn't listed first by accident and you could just as easily replace that with "modern" or "nu" and have an idea of what an ordeal it is to sift through 60-70 bands that sound like Slipknot just to get one decent one. Anyway, a Saturday show with three great bands wasn't something this geezer was going to miss.

A word about the Palladium; it is old. It was originally meant as a venue for live musicals and plays and must have been gorgeous in its day, but 20-30 years of rock shows have taken their toll. The main theater was closed for renovations so the bands would be playing "upstairs" in what was formerly the foyer for the balcony seats. Exposed pipes and wiring give it an industrial feel and the whole place probably holds 300 people (vs. over 1000 in the theater). That hardly seems fitting for a band like Sonata Arctica, who play to 1000s at festivals the world over, but it did mean the entire audience was on top of the stage : ) It was also hot. Damn hot. September 6th, 2014 was the hottest day of 2014, so the club felt like a sauna. At least the guys in Sonata Arctica must have felt a little like home...

After a local opening act (with no singer), Xandria took the stage for a quick, 30 minute set. The sound in the small upstairs was not especially friendly to any of the bands and Xandria put the sound crew through their paces as they struggled to get things right. New singer Dianne van Giersbergen, who has a lovely voice, didn't seem to mesh with songs from earlier in Xandria's catalog, but the whole band killed it on tracks from Sacrificium (the album they are currently touring to support) like "Stardust." The crowd was genuinely appreciative and there was more than one Xandria t-shirt in the crowd. The band received a rousing ovation at the end of their set, which continued every time drummer Gerit Lamm or guitarist Marco Heubaum walked out on stage to help with the change over to Delain's set up. The folks in Xandria seemed just as appreciative toward the crowd as the crowd were to them and future performances by these Germans should go over well in the new world.

Next up was The Netherlands Delain, touring behind their newest album The Human Contradiction. They were given almost an hour and roared through ten songs from the band's four albums. The sound was better and singer Charlotte Wessels had the crowd eating out of her hands. Delain played in Worcester just over a year ago and fans of the band were out in force. All the members of the band ducked off-stage to get a drink or wipe their faces with a towel as the room was stifling but that did nothing to dampen the performance or the crowd's reaction. Tracks like "Army of Dolls," from The Human Contradiction, and "We Are the Others," from the 2012 album of the same name, had the crowd jumping up and down to the beat. The floor was literally shaking. The only things that had me anxious for the end of their set was the upcoming Sonata Arctica set and the brutal heat.

When Pariah's Child came out, Sonata Arctica's eighth studio album, I wrote off the faux televangelist spoken-word stuff in "X Marks the Spot" but the song, and the spoke-word stuff, has grown on me, which was good, as this was the voice that greeted us when the lights went down. The band came out and quickly launched into "The Wolves Die Young," the opening track from Pariah's Child. At first, the normally energetic Finns seemed daunted by the small stage and high temperatures. Only Tony was really moving around a lot, but that changed as the show went on and the band seemed to get more energized by the crowd. Things really took off when they played "Fullmoon" and we all kept singing along to "X Marks the Spot" and "Love," both from Pariah's Child, and even "Flag in the Ground" from The Days of Grays got a hearty response. I heard a guy in line waiting to get in say The Days of Grays is his favorite Sonata Arctica album. Not my choice, but it's a free country : ) The band touched on most of their albums with only Unia and Winterheart's Guild getting passed over. By the time "Kingdom for a Heart" was played, the crowd was singing lustily, Henrik was dazzling the keys, including the keytar, Elias was melting his fret board and newest member Pasi was menacing us with some ferociously heavy bass lines. "San Sebastian" was a fantastic choice for the closer and gave drummer Tommy a chance to roll the double-kick drums off the walls.

After a very brief break, the band was back for the assumed encore and tore through "Blood," from Pariah's Child, "Wolf and Raven," from Silence and "Don't Say a Word," from Reckoning Night, before ending with "Vodka/Havah Nagila," their traditional send off. All the members came to the front of the stage and basked in the audience applause for several minutes before exiting, stage left.

On a miserably hot night in September, despite sound and temperature challenges, Sonata Arctica, Delain and Xandria proved that Heavy Metal is still cool, even in a country that remains largely ignorant of quality music like the United States. They rocked us for four hours and turned us loose into the cool of a rain storm, happy as we could be.

Additional Information

Photos by MetalMike

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