Sonata Arctica Live in Ottawa

By Andrew Depedro, Ottawa Correspondent
Monday, June 6, 2005 @ 1:14 AM

Sonata Arctica and Ivory Knigh

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Good news for people who grew bored quickly reading the latest Motley Crue reviews including mine; it turns out there were other bands playing concerts over the last few months too! Not one or two but three major shows with the prospect of more big shows to come in the near future were on my schedule this week and were basically my reward for 8 or 9 months of French language upgrading and gruelling market research analysis work. Lame build-up to the suspense of the anticipation of the concert aside, let's take it from here...

I arrived at around 8 PM actually expecting to have missed the opening act only to come to a line-up into the club stretching about half a block. Clearly the buzz on both those bands were vibrant. Especially in the case of local band Ivory Knight who almost got their name across last year to more people while opening for another band at the same venue. That band, unfortunately, was W.A.S.P. who as the Ottawa metal fans recall were pretty much chased out of town for calling off their show at the last minute that day with Blackie Lawless either complaining that the stage wasn't strong enough to support a 1000-pound mic stand or that there were no barricades installed around the stage for unspecified safety reasons. I heard that neither band could even take the stage that day. This time I finally got to hear the band for myself. Pretty decent performance overall even though I wasn't familiar with their catalogue and the lead singer who could easily be the long-lost twin brother of Fez from That 70's Show has not only a powerful voice but some good stage presence and enough charisma and enthusiasm to get a crowd motivated during a show even for those who've never heard their music before. And at least half the time the acoustics at Barrymore's -- which used to be an old theater several years ago -- prevented a few people from hearing the music at all. The guitar tone tended to mesh in with the keyboards too frequently and sometimes the bass was a bit louder than the drums if not all of the other instruments including the vocals but other than that this was an awesome show. Enough for me to actually buy both of Ivory Knight's CD's mainly because I saved $5 on a special deal that they had if you bought both CD's for $20.

And if you can manage to throw your back out headbanging to a band as I did during Ivory Knight's show the band has to be really good. Or I've really gotten out of shape so very quickly in the name of bilingualism. In this case it was both.

Highlights of the show were "Borderline," "Theater Of The Insane," "Introspective," "Unconscience," "Into The Black" and "Up From the Ashes." And Annihilator's Jeff Waters produced the latest CD Unconscience, although I think there was an occasion where I wished he was helping with some of the sound that night at the show.


The acoustics eventually improved in favor of headliners Sonata Arctica who wasted no time in taking the stage and hammering out the, um, classics. Actually, the only song I've ever heard from them prior to this show was "The Cage" from a Century Media compilation CD I got when a friend of mine sold me a substantial amount of power metal CD's while cleaning house. They eventually played that song later on though but I forget which song they started out with first. Going at breakneck speed on the opening song and especially during "8th Commandment" and "Misplaced," Sonata Arctica were unstoppable and rarely paused to take a break for anything other than introducing a song every 20 minutes which given that their songs clock in at about 6-7 minutes on average is pretty impressive in itself. Some of the other highlights of the show included the lead singer Tony receiving a small Canadian flag from the audience and wrapping it around his mic stand to the applause of the crowd during "My Land" (obviously) and a brief impromptu jam between the guitarist and the drummer which included an interesting twist on Eddie Van Halen's much-imitated guitar-tapping technique with the guitarist changing hands to do the tapping which gave off an original and unusual array of melodic sounds. Awesome.

And whether this could be debated as a crowd highlight or not would be the black-haired goth chick in the black skirt with the camera who was elbowing everyone in the moshpit to snap some photos of Tony. It being a power metal show and all that was pretty much the sole case of a moshing circle getting out of hand that night although there was some serious pit action going on as well. All in all, both bands delivered with some great performances that night.

Incidentally there's this one street performer who's basically a blues guitarist with a hook on his left arm where his hand used to be who was at the concert and ended up giving the Sonata Arctica bandmembers an impromptu performance of his own and the band were pretty impressed. I kinda wish I had stuck around afterwards but I felt embarrassed not having any KNAC stickers to get their attention so here's hoping that this review does it for them. Personally they should get a KNAC sticker each alone for their ode to vodka during the encore.

http://www.sonataarctica.info/index.php Song list never in any particular order:

"Kingdom For Heart"
"Full Moon"
"8th Commandment"
"My Land"
"Black Sheep"
"Sing in Silence"
"The End of This Chapter"
"Graven Image"
"The Cage"
"The Misery"
"Blinded No More"
"Victoria's Secret"
"Wolf & Raven"

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