06 April 2017

Review: Sonata Arctica at The Slade Rooms

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Last  Tuesday night was miserable outside, but in Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms it was far from miserable.

Kicking us off were Canadian heavy metal outfit, Striker [8]. Their sound was very much reminiscent of heavy metal from 20-30 years ago: high energy and loud, fast paced riffs. I heard their lead vocalist was recovering from an illness that affected his ability to sing and because of this they played an instrumental mid-way through their set which was a nice change. Aside from the instrumental, my personal highlight of the set was their track “Full Speed Or No Speed” which appeared on their debut album.  If old school metal is your thing, give these boys a go. You will not be disappointed.

After the changover it was time for the first of the two Finnish bands on the night’s lineup: Thunderstone [9]. They entered the stage ready for business all suited and booted (I’m assuming they were booted. I couldn’t see below their guitars!). They brought their passionate brand of power/prog metal to the Wolverhampton audience. This was my first time seeing Thunderstone live and it really made me appreciate how intoxicating Pasi Rantanen’s voice really is. The pace of this set wasn’t as fast as Striker’s music, but it didn’t need to be. Everyone just lost in the euphoria that is Thunderstone. My personal highlight of this set was “Through The Pain” from their latest album Apocalypse Again which was released last year. Fantastic song and an absolute joy to witness live.

After one last changeover it was time for the band that everyone was waiting for Sonata Arctica [10]. This set was fantastic from start to finish with a variety of songs from their extensive back catalogue. We got to witness a unforgettable moments throughout the set, including a beautiful moment 4 songs in. Tony Kakko went right to the barriers and held the microphone to a member of the audience who proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes and then they played a classic in the form of “Tallulah”. The next moment which stuck out to me was in the next song “Fairytale”. This song is about the recent US presidential election which is a bit strange to hear from Sonata Arctica. And what made this unforgettable was Tony Kakko mimicking President Donald Trump’s mannerisms perfectly to a tee. Unbelievable. It was amazing, the best…bigly. Of course, with the release of The Ninth Hour 6 months ago, they performed some songs from that album including “Closer To An Animal”, “Life” and “We Are What We Are”. Sonata Arctica were simply phenomenal to witness live. After making just one UK tour date last year, they more than made up for it to their fans in the Midlands that missed out.

All in all, this show was fantastic and not a bad performance from any of the bands on the lineup. I’d returned from an exhausting Hammerfest weekend just two days before and I was still groggy come Tuesday but as soon as Striker came on stage, those proverbial cobwebs were blasted away.

Reviewed by DJ Scott
Host Of The Sanctum