Review and Photos by Mike Bax
Described by curator / mastermind Tobias Sammet as the mean, dirty little black sheep brother of Trans Siberian Orchestra, Avantasia’s only Canadian live show touched down last night in Toronto, filling the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage to the brim with a literal who’s who of heavy music. Boasting one of the few stages in Toronto that can physically accommodate the Avantasia live experience, Tobias Sammet (Edguy), along with eleven other musicians featuring members of Jorn, Masterplan, Mr. Big, Pretty Maids, Helloween, Aina, Sinbreed, Beyond the Bridge, At Vance and Virgo performed at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for over three hours last night, playing an assortment of material from the seven commercially released albums Avantasia have available.
Joining Tobias on stage this evening were:
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Eric Martin – Vocals
Ronnie Atkins – Vocals
Michael Kiske – Vocals
Amanda Somerville – Backing vocals/vocals
Herbie Langhans – Backing vocals/vocals
Miro Rodenberg – Keyboards
Andre Neygenfind – Bass
Oliver Hartmann – Guitar
Sascha Paeth – Guitar
Felix Bohnke – Drums
At just after 7:45pm, the house lights dropped and the orchestrated theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey filled the venue to cheers of approval from the audience. Miro Rodenberg and Felix Bohnke walked on the stage waved at the audience and took their places behind the keyboards and drums on stage. The remainder of the band gradually as each song progressed.
Rodenberg and Bohnke didn’t merely ‘walk’ onto the stage as much as they walked THROUGH it taking into account that the dual level stage was bisected by a stairwell that cut through center stage. Adorned with the requisite dramatic lighting, a colourful backdrop of the artwork from Ghostlights (the newest Avantaisia album) and accommodating up to twelve musicians at a time, this really was more of an event than a mere concert.
This three-hour long performance was a first in Canada. Avantasia has performed here only once before, at Le Festival d’été de Québec, and that show was only 90 minutes long, half the length of tonight’s full-blown performance. While the genre of power metal is nowhere near as strong here in North America as it as abroad, that didn’t stop people from travelling great distances to see the show. Three of the people I chatted with had travelled from the US to witness this performance.
The show itself was very enjoyable. The musicians had great interaction, both as a band of musicians and also with their audience. At one point during a song where Sammet wasn’t doing lead vocals, he hammed it up for a fan while holding up her phone. He motioned to her that he’d like to take her phone and when he realized it was set to video, he walked it up the left side of the stage behind Felix Bohnke and capturing a unique perspective of the show. He then turned the camera around and waved into the lens before walking it back to the woman and continuing on with the song. The entire evening was like this – singers bumping knuckles with members of the audience, and hamming it up amongst themselves as they performed.
I must admit that the prospect of a ‘Lord of The Rings-length’ power metal show had me walking into the venue with some mixed feelings. I wondered if it might be too much. It wasn’t at all. I’m glad I got the chance to see it and be a part of the evening.
Theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey”
Mystery of a Blood Red Rose
Ghostlights (with Michael Kiske)
Invoke the Machine (with Ronnie Atkins)
Unchain the Light (with Ronnie Atkins and Michael Kiske)
The Watchmakers’ Dream (with Oliver Hartmann)
The Scarecrow (with Jørn Lande)
Lucifer (with Jørn Lande)
What’s Left of Me (with Eric Martin)
The Wicked Symphony (with Jørn Lande, Herbie Langhans, Eric Martin, Amanda Somerville, Oliver Hartmann, without Tobias)
Draconian Love (with Herbie Langhans)
Farewell (with Amanda Somerville and Michael Kiske)
Stargazers (with Jørn Lande, Ronnie Atkins, Michael Kiske, Oliver Hartmann, without Tobias Sammet)
Shelter from the Rain (with Michael Kiske and Amanda Somerville)
Let the Storm Descend Upon You (with Jørn Lande and Ronnie Atkins)
Promised Land (with Jørn Lande)
Reach Out for the Light (with Michael Kiske)
Avantasia (with Michael Kiske)
Twisted Mind (with Eric Martin and Ronnie Atkins; without Tobias Sammet)
The Great Mystery (with Eric Martin)
Dying for an Angel (with Eric Martin)
The Story Ain’t Over
Lost in Space (with Amanda Somerville)
Sign of the Cross / The Seven Angels (everyone on stage)