Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia – Bloodstock Review

As promised in the review for day two of Bloodstock 2013, here is the full review of Avantasia’s first and hopefully not last visit to the UK.

It’s rare that you find Avantasia on tour, probably due to the insane logistics of getting all these singers and musicians free at the exact same time. This is like waiting for the planets to align when you look at the list of names Tobias Sammet has with him this time.

Though not the biggest crowd they’ve ever played to (Wacken etc holds around 80,000 people while Bloodstock holds around 10-15,000) this festival makes the most sense for them to play. At Download they would be relegated to a smaller stage during the day and the other small metal fests just aren’t big enough to hold them. This year may not have been the best for Avantasia’s debut though, while generally Bloodstock has a broad range from the metal genre, this year is rooted firmly in the thrash/death/rather heavy scene. Most of the power metal of the weekend is around now. Sabaton followed by Avantasia on main stage while PowerQuest’s last show was performed in the Sophie Tent (seriously, who made that clash happen!).

Positioned dead centre, around two people from the barrier, the opening track Spectres is like watching a DVD. The view point is perfect, though the sound is pretty dire there, Miro’s keyboards would often be buried but seeing as most of the front rows were occupied by people doo doing and wee wooing  along with every note that wasn’t the end of the world.

Spectres leads into Invoke the Machine and introduces us to our first guest vocalist of the night, Ronnie Atkins of the Pretty Maids. Atkins remains on stage for one of my personal highlights of the day/life, The Scarecrow. Jorn Lande is sadly not part of this tour this time but Atkins does a stand up job singing his raspy lines.

Reach Out For The Light is when the evening reaches legendary status, Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween) takes to the stage and joins Tobias in a huge co-power metal scream that probably smashed al the glass nearby, thank god for tents. Felix (Edguy) is man of the match here though; he is a machine on the drums and such an underrated force.

Kiske remains on stage for Breaking Away before the next highlight of my night/life occurs. The faint keyboard intro in the background introduces the start of The Story Ain’t Over and most importantly, Bob motherfucking Catley (Magnum). He appears behind the drum kit on the raised platform, arm flying around feeling and playing every single note he sings/hears up there.

Amanda Somerville steps away from her backing vocal spot and joins Catley and Sammet up front for the finale of the song. Her presence in general is a powerful tool in the vocal harmonies; though she is on her own her voice mixed with the backing vocal talents of the rest of the musicians gives an effective choir effect.

The Great Mystery follows with Catley taking the spotlight throughout. The ten minute piece weaves and winds through slow emotional places to epic bombastic power metal, what’s not to love? (Nothing, there’s nothing not to love and if you don’t you’re a bad person, feel bad).

Introducing one of the tours more famous members, Eric Martin (Mr. Big) joins for a pretty stunning rendition of Dying For An Angel. He both manages to look and sound like he’s in his twenties despite being in his fifties. Martin follows with a brief (I mean about two seconds, don’t get excited and run off to youtube) death metal burst of To Be With You before leading the audience in a whoa oh along into the riff pot that is Twisted Mind.

A faster song follows and sees Kiske returning to the stage. Shelter From The Rain once again gives Felix the chance to crash the ever loving fuck out of his drums. All changes after though for ballad time. Normally I hate ballad time but Avantasia do it right. Farewell has the once circle pitting crowd all waving their hands slowly (and chanting Keyboard Player) in the air in time. Sammet and Somerville duet through the surprisingly emotional piece before Kiske saunters onto the stage and utterly rips the face off everyone with his insane high pitched ending vocals.

Sadly we enter the last song of the night after this, while most of the shows on the tour had been three hours long, Avantasia only have an hour and a half here (not bad for second from the top though). Sign Of The Cross opens with an excerpt from Heaven and Hell which frankly already wins the day because it’s Heaven and Hell! Sammet introduces the remaining two members of the band he hasn’t introduced yet (bass player, André Neygenfind, and the “tighter than a guinea pigs asshole” Felix Bohnke) before launching into Sign of The Cross properly. All the singers appear here and it’s almost too much to handle. It’s easy enough when each gets a verse but when they all walk down to the front for the final chorus of The Seven Angels (performed as a medley with Sign of the Cross) it’s almost impossible to figure out where to look.

It’s an evening full of epic choruses, complex solos (courtesy of long term members Sascha and Oliver), long songs, a frightening amount of talent, comedy and a crowd surfing Jesus. If they ever return, do not miss them under any circumstances.

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