Anyway. When I first arrived in Helsinki, I saw that they had just started their acoustic tour, and so I went to see them, in February 2019. Then I saw that they played again in Helsinki in November, for their “normal” tour. And so I went to see them again. If you think Sonata Arctica is just “wolves running under the full moon and the clouds on the snow with northern lights on the horizon and more wolves howling”, think again.
First up on the stage of The Circus was Temple Balls, young (first single in 2017) band from Finland. These guys clearly listened to way too much Rainbow and hard rock, if there is such a thing as too much Rainbow. They play that kind of happy hard rock that suits perfectly a 1000-people room slowly filling with people, most of whom have a drink in their hands. They have the energy and the joyfulness that is exactly what you need to get the heat going when it’s snowing outside.
After a quick change of scene, it’s up for Arion to get everyone ready. I really don’t think I need to introduce this band, who seems to be in every single festival in Finland, like Tuska. Clear powerful voice, sharp guitar, gentle keyboard atmosphere, precise bass and drums… It’s just that kind of powermetal that you want, sometimes interrupted by one of those ballads that just make every couple in the audience kiss, like You’re My Melody. Think Stratovarius, Helloween, and, obviously, Sonata Arctica. And long flowing blond hair. Obviously.
And now for the big piece. First of all, there’s something that needs to be said. You can say whatever you want about Tony Kakko’s taste when it comes to clothes; you can even say that his voice isn’t always completely perfect (which makes it actually even better to me, but that’s just my taste); but there’s one thing you can’t take away from him: how much he is a stage beast. I don’t know whether he was born on a stage, but he sure belongs to a stage, as in Larger Than Life.
Live, Sonata Arctica has this magic thing that brings everyone together. The sound is heavier than on albums, with perhaps a bit more drums and bass, but they clearly are all veteran professionals, playing in their own backgarden, so to say. All albums are represented, from Ecliptica (1999) to Talviyö (2019, “Winter’s Night”), spanning the more than 20 years of career of one of the major power metal bands these days. And if the newer songs feel more progressive and headbangy-jumpy, you can tell that Sonata Arctica is truly a legend when they just stop playing in the middle of Tallulah and the whole audience keeps singing the song by themselves. Yes, even the photographers. Yes.
Tony plays with photographers, with the audience. He is perhaps the only Finn who talks with his hands, and he does talk a lot. Switching from English to Finnish (“Sorry, I forgot you guys can understand me when I speak normally”), he runs around and has clearly all the power and precision you want from a Sonata Arctica show. All in all, truly a great evening, and if they come near you, be sure to go, cheer the youngsters and enjoy the legends!