This one was expected to be a bit special one. After all, Stratovarius had proved that metal is definitely not dead. Visions has went gold in Finland, meaning 20000 sold discs. This gig was to celebrate that one. I really don't know any other Finnish metal band that has achieved this in several years.
The performance was not expected to be top notch, and the band remembered to warn about it pretty soon. After all, the actual "party" with selected guests had already been before the show, meaning some refreshments had already been consumed :-)
But the overall atmosphere was definitely great and relaxed. Everyone seemed to enjoy, both the band and the audience. The first songs, Black Diamond, Paradise and Speed of Light, are definitely big favourites among the audience, and they pretty well woke the people up. I myself like Before the Winter way better live than it's on the album. Yet again, Stratovarius delivered pretty good version, though Tolkki had some problems with his guitar. He couldn't get clean sound out of it.
Regular Visions Tour set opener Forever Free got the audience nuts again, and Eternity suffered a bit from Tolkki's guitar problem. Still, it's one of my definite favourites from the Episode album. Hold On To Your Dream was nice, but I'd so much would've like to have seen something else from Dreamspace. After all, they had played this one already three weeks earlier at Lepakko.
As a slight surprise, cool instrumental Stratosphere was player in full, before the actual main event of the evening. The give-away of the gold discs. Don't know how many times they had done that during the day though, Jörg had already broken the glass on his disc :-) A representative of Noise Records, straight from Germany, gave away the gold discs to the band and some background characters that often appear in the booklets. And of course, we're in Finland. There was a full one-liter bottle of Finlandia Vodka. After each guy picked his disc, he drank a little. Worth mentioning are Mikko Karmila, engineer and mixer, Juho Juntunen, of Soundi magazine, and Klaus Flaming, the host of the Finnish radio show Metalliliitto, or Metal Union. Especially Klaus was pretty drunk already. Drunk enough that Metalliliitto aired just hours before the gig had been a recorded one. And yes, the vodka bottle was empty after the discs were given away :-)
When the things calmed down a bit, there were some Visions even without Vodka. Well, it's a long song, and I understand that it just had to be played at this party, but hopefully no more on the next tour. It's a good song too, sure, but it takes time from two other songs... Will The Sun Rise? has obviously stabilized its place as the last song of the actual set.
After the traditional little pause Stratovarius got back for encores. I don't know why, but The Kiss Of Judas is my personal favourite live track from Visions. It just sounds so massive. Must be the heavy bass that really rocks live. Forever got the audience humming, and even Father Time was played pretty well despite all the alcoholic beverages. But in the end there was something special waiting...
Stratovarius basically never play cover tunes live, though they have a couple recorded and released on singles or as bonus tracks. People who know Finnish metal scene definitely know Marco Hietala, who was a special guest during the next song. He's the vocalist/basist of a great Finnish prog/power metal band Tarot, and did a great job, as usual, singing the Rainbow cover Kill the King. The tune is actually regularly on Tarot setlist, and many people had heard Marco sing it before. Perkele!
And then some problems. Juho Juntunen of Soundi magazine was supposed to be the guest vocalist on the next song. He was not found, probably passed out somewhere backstage, and the song was skipped. Too bad, it was supposed to be none other than The Classic Paranoid. It wasn't mentioned by name, but it read on the setlist :-) The last tune was an old Scorpions song Blackout. I've never been too much of a Scorpions fan, so it was nice to see a song that actually rocked.
And then some months of waiting before the new album and the new tour...