Sonata Arctica – San Francisco – September 28th, 2014
Remarks: Having skipped San Francisco on their Stones Grows Her Name tour, it’s been a whole 4 years since I last saw Sonata Arctica. Although I was still kinda peeved that they skipped us last tour, all was quickly forgotten upon entering the venue! Not only did they come back, but they brought along my recent favorite, Delain, as well as long tenured German band Xandria.
Although they’ve been around for quite some time, Xandria never quite made it onto my music radar. Once they hit the stage though, I was totally blown away. It was very powerful and bombastic, which really reminded me of Nightwish’s Oceanborn-Wishmaster days mixed with the more recent material of Epica. The songs were very much a rollercoaster ride with lots of ups and downs, build ups and thrilling releases. They are currently fronted by the dazzling Dianne van Giersbergen, who drifted from a soft and sweet voice to a powerful operatic voice very seamlessly. They played a short set of 5 songs, but it was more than enough to get me interested. I look forward to digging into their discography and hearing more!
Next up was Dutch rockers Delain. They’re still relatively new, but they seem to be gathering major traction as of late, with good reason. I actually find myself listening to them more and more. I’m actually surprised I didn’t catch on to them sooner. Mastermind Martijn Westerholt is the brother to Robert Westerholt; one of the masterminds behind Within Temptation. Not only that, but Marco from Nightwish produces their albums and sings on them too! It’s a blast to see them live too, as I think Charlotte is one of my favorite frontwomen; she gets so excited and you can tell she’s genuinely having fun up there. They had an enjoyable setlist with a good mix of new and old material. I don’t think it’ll be much longer until we see them headlining their own tour in the US, which I can’t wait for!
Sonata Arctica has always had fun shows, and this one was pretty much just as expected. Tony is still the character he is on stage, singing animatedly and knowing when to be serious or goofy. They moved Henrik to the back row next to Tommy, but he donned his keytar a lot of the time and made sure to travel around the stage. Tommy was rock solid behind his kit as usual. Elias as well! This was the first time seeing the new bassist Pasi on stage. While it’s weird not to see the stoic face of Marko, Pasi seems to fit right in. He definitely knows his way around the bass as he had several opportunites to show that off, and he is also very animated while playing.
Sonata Arctica‘s Playlist
(As the lights dimmed, a symphonic version of Larger Than Life blasted for their intro.)
●The Wolves Die Young (A very fun and very catchy song. Pasi stole the spotlight and made sure everyone knew he could play bass in that very brief bass flurry right before the first verse. Tony came in nice and clear, his voice is still going strong!)
●Losing My Insanity
●In the Dark
●Cloud Factory (Tony tells us that there were some factories back home in Kemi that left a lasting impression on him as a young child and many years later, this is the result.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_WB4wYW2zg
●Last Drop Falls (Is line-moshing a thing? If it’s not already one, they started doing it here tonight.)
●Flag in the Ground
●I Have a Right
●X Marks The Spot (Definitely their silliest song of the night. Tony got way into it, especially the breakdown part in the middle with the crowd interaction.)
●Letter to Dana (Really glad this made its way back into the setlist, as it’s definitely one of their classics. At the end, the other guys continued with the refrain while Tony did some freestyling. I couldn’t quite catch it, but it wasn’t the lines added in the Returned To Sender version, which I really think adds a whole new dimension to the song.
●FullMoon (The song started with tony sitting on the speaker right in front of us, looking pensive. Naturally, this one is a huge fan favorite! RUN AWAY!)
●Kingdom for a Heart (Yet another track off Ecliptica, which makes sense with it being the 15th anniversary.)
●Wolf & Raven (Another song I was really happy that came back into the rotation. It was one of the first Sonata songs I heard and it still is one of my favorite. Elias and Henrik tore it up together here!)
●Don’t Say a Word (Tony really becomes a character in this song, really becoming unhinged in the middle, which is always a blast to see. Naturally, they couldn’t end the show without a little bit of WODKA!)