My first impressions were lost as Labyrinth took the stage and I took to the photopit, only to discover that about three-quarters of it was blocked off so I apologise for the fact that all of the photos are of the same two people. As for second impressions, it doesn’t take long to be impressed by the serious musicianship on offer here. Whilst not the most energetic band (bar vocalist Roberto Tiranti who is easily the most emphatic performer in the band) they make up for this playing incredibly tightly throughout. Ignoring the awesome look of Andrea De Paoli playing his white keytar covered in red tape (or indeed anyone ever playing a keytar) his parts really shine, providing a crystal clear contrast against their metal sound. Not that Labyrinth particularly exude metal in the gruff and gritty way, as shown perfectly by Tiranti’s smoother than smooth vocals. His efforts could easily be likened Rhapsody of Fire’s Fabio Lione, which is not really surprising since Lione used to be a part of Labyrinth in their early days. Perhaps a little off-putting is the fact Tiranti’s lyrics are out on paper in front of him on the floor but he doesn’t noticeably look at them. Instead he spends their set charismatically charming his crowd, albeit with such usual tricks as taking photos or just generally chatting. These interactions feel genuine, as do the crowd’s cheers which is nice for a support band. As they make way for the final act I think everyone’s suitably warmed up, Labyrinth have done their job and possibly made some new fans along the way.
Saturday 19th March 2011
Corporation in Sheffield, UK
Reviews & Photography by Nicholas Dishington
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By the time that the dazzling dot matrix screens begin to count down to Sonata Arctica’s arrival the venue is getting uncomfortably cramped but, on the plus side, the photopit is now clear. Once the screens reach zero and ‘Everything Fades to Gray’, the intro track to their latest similarly dazzlingly album 'Days of Grays’ fills the room I can’t help but get excited as the logical step would be to follow with the song it leads into on the album, ‘Deathaura’. Instead, we’re given ‘Flag in the Ground’ which is the first of many questionable song choices for tonight. Admittedly, it does start the show with a bang but, following it with ‘The Last Amazing Grays’, ‘Juliet’ and ‘Replica’, leaves the pace already slowing down, not least in the fact that mainman Tony Kakko uses every opportunity between songs to ramble on about anything at length. The fact his terrible jokes fall flat would lead you to believe that it was unrehearsed until he accidentally mixes up bits and starts telling a story in between the wrong songs and admits his mistake and returns to it later. Like so many of Sonata Arctica’s songs the mood in the room never settles for long; however, at no point it really peaks. ‘FullMoon’ and ‘As If The World Wasn’t Ending’ stand out as real crowd pleasers among the other, fairly average songs although due to the frontman either messing it up or repetedly messing around, hearing the intro to ‘Full Moon’ starts to wear thin once you’ve heard it 4 times or more. When the razor-sharp intro riff to ‘In Black and White’ cuts through the dross things start to look up; Kakko has stopped goofing off, the instrumental parts are on top form and the mood is surprisingly high. A quick encore later and as the spoken word intro to ‘Caleb’ plays I realise that I obviously don’t have the same taste in Sonata Arctica as Sonata Arctica do. I’m briefly reminded of my first (and only) listen to Gamma Ray’s ‘Skeletons in the Closet’, a live album of songs they hadn’t played in concert before, and why they really shouldn’t have started either. That said, both Kakko’s vocals and the instrumentalists are crystal clear and the atmosphere is high as they lead onto sort-of final song of the night ‘Don’t Say A Word’. The actual end of the night comes in the form of their party piece, a vodka orientated sing-a-long to the tune of the famous Jewish song 'Hava Nagila' before an abrupt outro from the full version of ‘Everything Fades to Gray’. A disjointed end to a very disjointed evening, with the music ranging from hard to soft and the mood changing from serious to jovial at the drop of a hat it’s been a bittersweet show to swallow.
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