Before I even get into the concert stuff, let me just say that I arrived way too early to the venue. Just as a note to everyone reading this, parking in cities sucks and there's nothing to do while waiting for a concert to start. However, I joined the line about an hour and a half before the concert started and there were already tons of people there. I guess it's better than arriving late since the Mod Club is a lot smaller than I remember. When I saw Alestorm there previously the crowd didn't seem to be too bad. But this concert was jam-packed. Even though I got there relatively early I wasn't able to get a spot right at the front like I have for the last few concerts I've been to. Kind of a bummer but I still ended up getting a decent spot not too far from the stage. Also the people who were standing behind me in line kept talking about how awesome Sabaton is live, so now I'm even more excited for that concert. One more month!
The first band came out about 10 minutes after I got inside. And to my surprise it was Xandria up first, not Delain like I previously thought. Oh well, I like Delain better so it was a pleasant surprise. Xandria of course was also pretty awesome. About half the already tiny stage was reserved for Sonata's stuff, so Xandria had to squeeze in pretty tight. They didn't move around the stage too much, but the whole band danced in place and still seemed like they were having a pretty good time. The drummer was especially awesome. I didn't realize before how simple Xandria's drumming is, but he filled the void with all sorts of stick spins and other things to show off. The sound quality was also great. The drums only looked like it had one or two mics set up on it and the snare was almost just its natural sound with minimal amplification. For such a small venue this worked out really well as I could still clearly hear the drums and also the guitars and vocals. The songs sounded almost exactly like they do on the albums. I was also able to recognize every song they played because the setlist was solely taken from their two most recent albums. I'm fine with that as those are the only albums of theirs I've actually listened to. The first four albums may very well not exist and I'm totally fine with that. The set was pretty short but a good start to the night sound-wise.
Before I get into the next bands I want to talk about the audience for a second. It was pretty crowded in there but this was one of the weirdest audiences I've seen. This was technically my first power/symphonic concert so maybe the crowds for these are always like this but I was still left pretty confused. Now there was no moshing to speak of, not even a single jerk in the middle. Fine, this isn't aggressive music so I understand. But there wasn't much energy either. There were very few people around me jumping around or even headbanging. The bands had to prompt the audience to do everything from clapping in rhythm to even cheering. That being said, everyone seemed really excited to see the bands. All the cheers were deafening, even for the opening bands. And almost everyone was singing along to Sonata Arctica. Perhaps the majority of the people there were just inexperienced with concerts, but most of them just stood in one spot the entire show.
Anyway, next up was Delain. Instead of bringing a stage backdrop, they chose instead of set up a series of stands making up the album cover. I've got to give them points for creativity. They also brought out their own smoke machines which really added to the visuals. There were even points during the set where both guitarists stood on top of the smoke machines during instrumental parts of songs. A few things were pushed away but since Delain is one additional person to Xandria, the band was still a little crowded on the stage. Charlotte seemed to have the most energy, constantly jumping up and down and running around the stage. Her vocals were a little more squeaky compared to the album recordings but besides that everything sounded great. The setlist was a bit more varied than Xandria's, with the band playing songs from all their albums. It showed me that maybe I'm not as familiar with Delain's material as I thought. There were quite a few songs that I didn't recognize. For some I realized what they were playing when the chorus kicked in, but for others I still have no idea. That being said they still did play everything I was hoping for. I started to get a little upset at the end of one of their songs because it sounded like that was the end of their set and they never played We Are the Others. Lucky for me they played one more song and it was exactly what I was hoping for. As a final note, it really looked at certain points like Charlotte was about to pop out of her partially see-through top. Both of the female vocalists definitely had interesting outfits.
The stage was fully opened up for Sonata Arctica. They had a whole raised section for the drums and keyboards where the keyboardist and guitarists kept switching positions. They took out Delain's smoke machines but replaced it with every single light in the place. I had no idea that stage had so many different lights on it. The crowd also got significantly louder when Sonata came out. They even chanted the band's name, good for them! I'm writing this bit as somewhat of an outsider since I really came for the opening bands and only started listening to Sonata when this concert was announced. But everyone else looked like they were there for the headliner. Everyone was singing along with all the songs. Even though I didn't recognize too many songs, they all sounded really good. Tony is an amazing singer and the rest of the band did not disappoint. All the solos were spot on and all the backing vocals were just as good. The drums were a little louder than the opening bands since they used their own kit which actually had microphones on it, but I could still hear the other instruments. All in all everyone looked like they were having fun. When Paid In Full was played, I got a chance to join in singing with the rest of the audience since it's the only song I really know the words to. Let me say, it was really fun singing along and I can see why the rest of the audience enjoyed the show so much. Tony was also full of energy. I've never seen a vocalist act out all the words they're singing but it definitely added a bit to the show. And every time a solo was happening, he would pick up the mic stand and pretend to play along. Did I mention the vocals were fantastic? Well I'll say it again since he blew me away. He hit all the highs and even threw in some growls here and there. I could make out every word he was saying which is an odd feeling for me since I've mostly seen bands with harsh vocals. All their songs also seemed to sound better live, as I actually enjoyed when they played the stuff I had previously deleted from my music library in disgust. Notable songs that I hate from the albums and loved live are What Did You Do in the War, Dad? and X Marks the Spot.
Overall this concert was great. The bands were all fantastic with every song sounding like it does on the albums. The audience was dead even though they seemed to be enjoying everything, but that problem will probably be fixed if you catch this tour in a different city. The three bands went by really quickly, with the final encore starting at 11:15 and the show ending at 11:45. But they made up for it when Xandria and Delain went out to their merch booths after the show to sign things and take pictures. I only went to this concert in the first place because I listened to the opening bands previously and when I listened to Sonata they weren't too bad. If only one of these bands were playing I don't think I would have gone to see the show. But after seeing them all live, I would see any one of them individually if and when they decide to come back in the future. I just hope that it's in a bigger venue.