Sonata Arctica @ Sentrum Scene, (Oslo) 13 Dec 2009

Norwegian metal fans welcomed their eastern brothers.

Melodic metal is a genre relying heavily on audio quality in order to present a good gig. Sentrum Scene in Oslo is perfect for this; not only is their sound gear state of the art, but the crew they have operating it deserve some kind of award as well. When the vocals are clear as bell, and the synth/drums/guitars/whatever can be separated from one another by the human ear, melodic metal can be enjoyed the way it is supposed to be.

The way I like it.

Do not misunderstand me, there are a few other things that make my gig: cheap beer, decent merch and decent company being high up on that list. The only place where Sentrum Scene is failing epicly is the price of malted beverage. No fucking way I pay nearly $20 for less than a pint of beer! It would cost me a month's wages should I dare attempt to get loaded. Not that my monthly wages are something to go ape over, but I am Norwegian, which seems to mean that by popular belief that I can hold my booze quite well. Which, coincidentally, is also true.

Anyway, in spite of the alco-price downer, I was still eager to see these bands, as two of them were completely new to me, while Sonata Arctica had some pretty nifty ballads the missus had been whining about a few years earlier. The gig started off with the Band Formerly Known As Mean Machine, now known as Winterborn, which, like Sonata Arctica is from Finland. My company of the night called them ”a tamer version of Sonata Arctica” which I feel pretty much covers it. Winterborn is a very young band, which has only a pending release till today's date, and the blandness of their sound shows that they need to clock some more years on their rear ends as professional touring musicians before they can really lift off and be a good metal band.

When Dutch Martijn Westerholt, the ex-keyboardist from Within Temptation got mono, he left the band. This was in 2001. Like the majority of eager kissers do, he recovered from the disease, but he had been replaced with a new dude on keys. Instead, Martijn formed Delain, which was a suprisingly awesome idea. Their sound was just a little more hardcore than the first act, and their very chic, and oh so talented singer Charlotte Wessels made the gig a bit more exciting.

Having the crowd above-averagely excited, Delain and Winterborn together did the job as warm-ups quite well, but when Sonata Arctica went on stage, the audience went officially nuts. The band hammered through one hit after the next and at some stage Tony Kakko started humming the tunes of the cheesiest power ballad of all time – Total Ecclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler. The song was quickly replaced with a gorgeous power ballad sung in duet with Charlotte Wessel from Delain. Birds and bees might have been swarming both on and off stage for the two, as they stood and sung face to face with the eyes fixed on eachother and then walked hand-in-hand off stage.

The last teenie tiny disappointment of the day was the fact that the group did not play any of the songs that made them famous – to me. We all have those songs, and we always remember what the first Beatles song we heard was, or the first Metallica tune we hummed to. I got to know Sonata Arctica through Shy and Tallulah, and they played neither. Poo.

All in all, it was a good pre-Christmas gig. It did nothing for my ridiculous consumation and gluttonious holiday spirit – but yet again, nothing does.