I think this Episode record release gig was the very first show with the new line-up. Completed with excellent Swedish keyboard player Jens Johansson, and world-class German drummer Jörg Michael, Stratovarius now has competent players, and a chance to be noted all over the world as one of the top power metal bands.
The set list filled my every expectation. Every song I wanted to hear was played. All my favourites from Episode, except perhaps Season of Change, were in the list, and I really loved hearing some of my older favourites. The Hands Of Time, Dreamspace and We Hold The Key, were definitely among the great moments of the show. Especially a little Säkkijärven Polkka -jam during The Hands Of Time with Jens singing was an unforgettable moment.
I had already heard Timo Kotipelto live once, singing Iron Maiden covers, and he is definitely capable vocalist live. The new songs and solo segment made a good use of Jens Johansson's and Timo Tolkki's skills and accuracy. Fast and skilled solo playing, and accurate dual-melodies with guitar and keyboard work perfectly. Although the result was very good, there was still a bit uncertainty in the playing together, probably because of the new men still settling into the band.
But as it is, I just can't wait for the next Stratovarius show I have a chance to go to...