Sonata Arctica – San Francisco – April 22nd, 2010
Remarks: Finally. After seeing Sonata twice as openers, they finally get to headline again. With the massive amount of energy and cheers they got with DragonForce back in September, it was no doubt that Slim’s was full of people who have been waiting 2 years for them to headline again. We arrived right as the doors had opened and planted ourselves stage left/house right, just in front of Henrik’s keyboard. It felt kinda odd since traditionally I’ve been on the house left side of things. It ended up being a great spot though.
We were treated to two opening bands this time: Powerglove and Mutiny Within. Powerglove was just how we remembered them, loads of fun with metal video game remixes. They guys were very friendly just like last time and Bassil was kind enough to chat us up as he worked the merch booth. They had said how much Sonata was a big influence for them so this must’ve been an awesome tour for them. They donned their traditional VG Metal outfits and shredded our collective childhoods, much to the amusement of the crowd. At the end, they also promised to play Power, Wisdom, Courage next time; something we intend on making them keep!
Mutiny Within filled up the tiny space they had on staged with 6 musicians. Somehow they were still able to roam around and keep us energized. Their music was very powerful and tightly woven together. They used an interesting mix of clean and growled vocals; not unlike Opeth for example. It was very much enjoyable for me despite not knowing any of their songs. At one point we got a very mellow piano solo. And at another, the vocalist simply proclaimed “Catch me San Francisco!” before stage diving. I don’t think you can call it crowd surfing since he pretty much went nowhere at all before being pulled back up on stage.
Sonata Arctica delivered the exact same package that you come to expect after seeing them for a while: playing awesome music and having fun on stage doing it. Tony has developed into an excellent frontman, being able to make the crowd laugh, sing, and chant on cue. He kept us laughing in between songs and kept the energy going during the songs. And he yodels. Enough said. The other guys were definitely on top of their games, blasting through riffs and solos like it was nothing. I think I even saw Marko smile. A little. After a nice dose of beer. There was a group by us that held up the ‘Underwear Music!’ sign that was at the DragonForce concert. It sadly went ignored. Hopefully next time. And hopefully they’ll be back sooner as well.
●Tetris (Themes B and C)
●Metal Kombat for the Mortal Man (The band handed out some inflatable swords as well as well as a giant (inflatable) bat and told everyone that it was time to do battle! Then they threw out a beach ball too for good measure.)
●Storm Eagle (While Nick brought out the bird puppet, Chris told the tale of how he could never get past Storm Eagle’s stage when he was a kid. He obviously didn’t use Sting Chameleon’s weapon against Storm Eagle. Or use the dash move properly. Regardless, he still made us chant “Fuck that bird!” through out the song.)
●X-Men (They debuted a new track for us, one that came from the land of Marvel. Specifically, from the X-Men cartoon. Man I remember that show. I also remember the awesome arcade game they based off it. Like usual, they metalized the song perfectly.)
●Transformers (Another new one. This one, dedicated to Optimus Prime himself. Another great rendition. But why couldn’t they dedicate this one to Shia LaBeouf? I digress…)
●Mario Minor (This time, Chris grabbed the Mario doll behind him and dedicated it to him. I can’t get enough of that Bowser’s castle theme in the middle. That part rocks so much!)
●So Sexy Robotnik (How do you go from a Mario cover to a Sonic cover? Oh well. This one seemed to be a big hit this time around. And while I had no problem beating Storm Eagle’s stage in Mega Man X, I had a hell of a time beating the Carnival Night Zone in Sonic 3. So I suppose things are even.)
●Power Rangers (Fact: They brought back the original series of Power Rangers and are playing it on Saturday mornings. Fact: They should have used Powerglove’s cover of the theme song as the new theme song. Fact: This song was their closer. Fact: This song was awesome.)
Sonata Arctica‘s Setlist
●Everything Fades To Gray (Instrumental) (As the screen playing Terminator 3 started to rise, this song played over the speakers. Then Tommy appeared. Then Henrik. Then the other three. All to much screaming. After a short greeting, they launched right into…)
●Flag in the Ground (I can only describe this track as ‘fun.’ Lost of energy and great to listen to.)
●Black Sheep (Wasting no time with this one either. It kinda took me by surprise, I didn’t expect to hear it this early in the concert. As always, the solos rocked!)
●Paid In Full (Another one of their ‘new classics.’ Pleasing song to hear. Naturally, I had to keep the tradition going by recording the keyboard solo.)
●The Last Amazing Grays (A great track off their new album. You really can’t go wrong with listening to a Wolf Song. Tony introduced this song by talking about loss and mother nature will eventually take those we love and us too. Kinda a downer. Good thing the song picked us right back up!)
●Last Drop Falls (Good choice for the ballad of the evening as it was a crowd favorite. Tony initially started talking about Ecliptica and if anyone knew of it. Elias had to point out that Tony couldn’t read his setlist correctly. Sheepishly they started this song. Also, there is nothing like hearing a roomful of people yelling out “WITHOUT UNDERWEAR” on command.)
●FullMoon (Needless to say, this was an absolute fan favorite. Instead of starting the intro to this song, Henrik decided to go for a beer break, leaving Tony to entertain us. He chose to do it by yodeling. It was confusing as much as it was awesome. Anyways, they really had fun on the stage during this song. We even got to see a nice mini drum solo by Tommy at the end. RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!)
●Juliet (Time for Tony Kakko’s History Lesson Of The Day. He asks us if we knew a guy named William H Shakespeare. He tells us that Shakespeare wrote some plays and lived in the 1600s. Oh, and the next song was titled after one of his most famous characters. Juliet. This one was abso-fucking-lutely awesome to hear live. It sounded much better live than Caleb did. Those last choruses were wonderful. It ended with Tony kneeling on the ground and singing.)
●8th Commandment (And just like that, he was up and running around stage while he left the crowd to push each other around. As they sang “Can you feel the fire burning?” Tony thought it would be a good idea to tug on Henrik’s goatee. I don’t know why. Henrik showed his skill under pressure by singing, playing keytar, and slapping Tony’s hand away in the span of a few seconds. Skills indeed.)
●Broken (Tony tells us that they’ve unintentionally ignored one of their albums in recent concerts. Winterheart’s Guild. Instead of opting for some Underwear Music, instead they opt to play Broken. I suppose it was a good choice to calm us down after the last song.)
●The Dead Skin (Another new song. Billed as kinda a love song. Tony really showed off his wide range of vocal abilities here. He also ended the song by doing his own echo, pulling the mic farther and farther away from him. That had to be the coolest, most absolute badass moment of the concert.)
●The Cage (Another song I didn’t expect to hear until later. Once again, a huge fan favorite. There ended up being lots of pushing in this song. It did end nicely with their ‘wooooooaaaahhh’ arrangement. Tony started talking about zoos to introduce this song along with cages. But as Henrik was going for another beer instead of doing an intro to the song, Tony walks over and hijacks his keyboard and does a sweet piano solo. Henrik can only stare in awe as Tony shows off a little.)
●Keyboard and Guitar Solos (It only takes about 2 seconds after the guys leave the stage for the crowd to start chanting ‘Sonata!’ and ‘Encore!’ Eventually, Henrik comes out and asks us if we want some more. The crowd responded with an enthusiastic yes. So he tells us he’ll see if he can figure something out. It ended up being a keyboard solo set to some soothing chords in the background. He absolutely rocked the hell out of his keytar. As he wrapped up, Elias took the stage for a guitar solo. I was unable to capture that much awesomeness on camera though. After they were done, Tony comes back out for some more crowd interaction. He asks us to repeat back some stuff like ‘Woah!’ and ‘Yeah!’ Then he asks the guys to say ‘Yeah!’ Then he asks the girls to say “We can’t navigate a map but have a highly sensitive emotional center!” There was much laughing and many raised middle fingers after that.)
●In Black And White (When Sonata said they were gonna shake up their setlist a little, I didn’t expect this to show up this late in the concert. Still good stuff though, very forceful and rocking song.)
●Don’t say a word (Sad times for their last song. Always a great song to hear though.)
●Vodka (The band asks us if there’s something we need. More songs! No? Vodka! So they naturally proceed to do the best outro ever. As the other guys wail on their instruments, Tony proceeds to thank us for the awesome show. And we were in the top 1 crowds of the tour. Then they gracefully segue into…)
●Everything Fades to Gray (Full Version) (I must say, I do like the way they bookend the concert with this song, just like it is on the album.)
As they wrap up and start thanking the crowd, they do their usual thing of tossing stuff into the crowd. One of Tommy’s drumstick landed just to the left and behind me. Tony’s towel landed not too far in front of me. As it landed, I heard someone next to me yell “That’s disgusting!” Heh. The band buddied up and hit center stage and took their bows. Until next time Sonata!