Monday, September 8, 2014

Sonata Arctica / Delain/ Xandria @ The Trocadero, PA 9/5/2014

I went to see Sonata Arctica in Philadelphia ($24) at the Trocadero due to scheduling conflicts at the Baltimore show.  I actually met up with Chris (whom I had seen at a Face Melting Friday) and his gf Lindsey and Lyndsey at the show! I also met with Ken and Dave (Mindmaze fans!) and chatted with a couple other interesting fellows about an old Batman comic, and another Steve.

Not Iron Maiden, not from England, they are Sonata, from Finland
The first time I got into Sonata Arctica and got to see them live everything went from an A++ show to a B+ down to a C.... The last time I had seen Sonata Arctica it was a very mixed bag, and they were touring on the... IMO not that amazing "Stones Grow Her Name" album. They've recently released the return to form "Pariah's Child" (wolf cover and all), so I was understandably excited.  Perhaps this change of mindset from sad proggy to a more happy power metal would be reflected in the setlist.  And of course the 1-2 punch of the female fronted Delain and Xandria would be fun as well.

As I cased the venue, I saw the line of black shirts and decided that I had found the right place. As I got frisked and got in, they explicitly said no pens or sharpies. there was a small wooden box where about 20 sharpies were deposited, to be retrieved upon show end. I surrendered a few pens that I forgot to get back after the show :/ The venue's capacity is like 1200. It seemed like several hundred people were there. Not empty, but definitely not sold out. Pretty crowded on the floor

The Trocadero, top view

Inside it was pretty nice, It seemed like it was a converted theater. There were a couple merch areas (ticket counters), an under-21 bar, a regular bar,  and an upstairs area with some cushy cushions for old/tired people to sit on. The main area had some slightly elevated sides, like the Howard Theater, and then a wooden bottom floor where most people where hanging out. The sound turned out to be pretty great for the most part.

The Wolves Buy Young

Merchandise wise, there was a lot.  Sonata Arctica had several shirts ($25)  - at least a few with wolves, hoodies ($40), and a keychain I think. Delain had a few albums ($15/20 for regular/deluxe), some meh looking shirts.  Xandria had their 2 latest CDs ($15) and a couple shirts.

Nightwish lite

Nightwish Lite Xandria  from Germany (with the same name as some adult website unfortunately) was up first, and they went almost promptly on at 7:31 to some pretty big crowd reaction! I recognized a couple of the songs, but others I only may have heard once before.  They were very good, but I think the vocals could have been slightly clearer. The singer's vocals were very operatic, but the distortion of the guitars sometimes hid it.  The sound system was pretty great and most things sounded pretty great (until Sonata...).  Their beautiful and talented singer (Dianne van Giersberge) was garbed in a kind of phoenix like skirt and side 'feathers' and strutted a little on the stage singing pretty flawlessly. The rest of the band was pretty solid, but really in the background. I think a lot of female-fronted (power) metal bands suffer from this, which can make it a bit awkward/disheartening to the rest of the band.  Regardless, my first time seeing these guys definitely make me want to see them again!

Delain, Charlotte had a great outfit

From the Netherlands, Delain, whom I had last seen at Kamelot's tour last year, got a bigger reaction than Xandria, and were definitely over with the crowd. I really enjoyed them last time, and they were about the same fun this time, maybe more as I knew their songs a bit more.  Very pretty lead singer Charlotte Wessels was also dressed in something a bit more scandalous this time- some sort of mesh shirt with pleather 'cover ups' and black pants. And there was a lot of jumping and jiggling. The bass player in particular was more engaging with the crowd.  Looking at the setlists, it is odd to note that both Delain and Xandria played songs named "Stardust." Fellow female (partially) fronted Amaranthe has a song "Stardust" as well, so If they all go on tour you could potentially hear 3 different songs with the same name. They had a slightly longer setlist, and I dunno if I had too much anticipation for Sonata or if some of the songs dragged on a little bit, but I was looking at my watch a little bit at the end of their set.  That is not to say that I didn't enjoy 90% of their set, because I really did, sonically and vicually. This Dutch band seemed more mature this time around, even if their songs were a bit more simplistic than Xandria or Sonata.

Singing in Silence

Sonata Arctica eagerly took the stage slightly after 9:30, and the crowd simply erupted with approval. They recently announced the re-recording of their classic album "Ecliptica," which may have impacted the content of the setlist (in a good, more speedy power metal way). I had seen a setlist on this tour and it looked pretty good to me. Surprise, surprise, it changed up again for this night! Still early enough in the tour to do that I guess?  I saw some other sets posted recently and they seem to have changed things slightly on most of the nights- and one show even brought back "Wolf and Raven!"  I wonder what Baltimore will get...

Kingdom for a non blurry foto

The crowd was pretty loud and somewhat energetic to start with, but for "Black Sheep" I may or may not have pushed people to contribute starting a Power metal pit (PMP) during that and "Fullmoon."  This certainly made me all sweaty and tired, but everything sounded pretty great. I of course would have replaced "In the Dark" and "...Insanity" with other pre-"Unia" songs. The 5 songs  from the new album were mostly very good live (even the IMO kind of meh "Cloud Factory"). "X..." was definitely an improvement from the album version, tho there were the annoying voiceovers over the PA. "Love" was not well received by the crowd, who mostly kind of stood there for it. I thought it sounded nice, tho.  "...Wolves ..." and "Cloud Factory" were pretty well received, being the singles so far. I thought "Blood" sounded really good, nice and heavy. People kind of went ape for the speedy "San Sebastian" and then there was the predictable "Don't..." w/ "Vodka."  Still sounded great, tho.

Crowd Factory

I will say that after getting pushed around, fist pumping, shouting along, and even jumping (yes jumping!) I definitely had a great time. It was a nice change from the half moping and half energetic sets of the several past times. Hopefully this will be a step in a happier direction for Sonata Arctica. I will say that without the touch of sadness or even emoness that runs thru many of Tony Kakko's lyrics, I think they wouldn't be Sonata, so EVERYTHING can't be speedy..

THERE are the Others

Overall, I'm glad I got to see Xandria, Delain again, and Sonata coming back to glory!  If you've got the chance (and are into power metal), you need to check this out.

Next show: Overkill or Skeletonwitch

Xandria (7:31-8:00)

  • Nightfall
  • Blood on My Hands
  • Forevermore
  • Stardust
  • Valentine 
Delain (8:15-9:00)

  • Go Away
  • Get the Devil Out of Me
  • Army of Dolls
  • Stardust
  • Electricity
  • Sleepwalkers Dream
  • The Gathering
  • Pristine
  • Not Enough
  • We Are the Others 
Sonata Arctica (9:35- 11:07)
  • Intro
  • The Wolves Die Young
  • Losing My Insanity
  • My Land
  • Sing in Silence
  • Cloud Factory
  • Black Sheep
  • FullMoon
  • X Marks the Spot
  • Paid in Full
  • Love
  • Victoria's Secret
  • In the Dark
  • Kingdom for a Heart
  • I Have a Right

  • Blood
  • San Sebastian
  • Don't Say a Word (with Vodka Outro)