The first show of the Destiny Tour. Destiny has been two weeks on the top of the Finnish album charts. And basically everyone seems to be more or less surprised. Even though Visions peaked at #4, this one shows that metal is really making a comeback. And I don't remember ever seeing so many people at Tavastia Club. It was definitely packed (and hot). Stratovarius has finally been noticed, big time. Now we'll see when they get big enough to play at the House of Culture, which holds two or three times more people than Tavastia...
Yeah, some changes! Jens and Timo (Tolkki) have swapped sides. Earlier Jens has been on the left of the audience, but I instantly noticed that Jens's heavily customized (and old) Yamaha was on the right. And alongside drums there were two pictures, one of them being the painting on the cover of Destiny, the other one I didn't recognize, but the style was similar. Probably another painting by Marco Bernard, on whose paintings Destiny artwork is based. And the lighting was nice ultraviolet :-)
At first it seemed like Stratovarius would start unusually early. Towels and water was brought on stage already around 22.30. Despite some people getting their hopes up I just waited patiently listening to the good music that was played while waiting, ranging from Angra and Gamma Ray to Dream Theater and Queensÿche. It was already 23.30 when the first choir parts from Destiny hit the air. Yup, no actual intro music this time. And when the song actually started the band came on stage.
Yet more changes! I couldn't help noticing that Jari had finally got the sixth string to his bass. And the bass sound was massive. It was well up, even drowning guitar sometimes. I really liked to hear the bass loud enough for once, but the guitar could've been a bit louder as well... And Timo Tolkki has started to lip sync some of the songs, like Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Tolkki seemed more relaxed than usual, smiling through most of the set.
The title track of Destiny is not necessarily the best set opener, but it made its job. Though it's my favourite from the album, it didn't quite make the same impact for me live. And it was clearly noticeable that the album is rather new. Not too many people (not even me) knew all the lyrics to the new songs.
Second tune, fast and furious No Turning Back would've probably been a better opener. And it was really fast. Even so fast that Jörg seemed to mess up the rhythm at one place. Next song, Playing With Fire, was a bit surprising choice for me, perhaps because it's probably my least favourite song from Destiny. But I noticed that Jörg used headphones to get the right tempo! Yes, very understandable when some tapes are used on several songs to get choirs and strings at right speed. Venus In The Morning was already the fourth track from the new album, with no songs from other albums. It was pretty good live, though clean guitar parts tended to get not so clean. When Forever Free started it was clear how everyone knew the lyrics for this one way better than for the new stuff.
4000 Rainy Nights seems to be one of the "hits" of the album, as several people were shouting the name already after the first song. Well, they got what they wanted, and in my opinion it worked better live than Venus In The Morning. Paradise, though being rather simple and straightforward rock song, is clearly a necessity, as it always gets people wild. Very catchy, definitely. I've always liked Speed Of Light more, especially live. It's always nice to see how Jens's and Timo's fingers fly during solos.
The beginning of Anthem Of The World came from the tape, because of the violins. This one sounded really good live, though we've heard that riff before (Night Time Eclipse, anyone?-) Anyway, definitely one of the better live songs from Destiny. Black Diamond ended the actual set before encores.
When Jari and Jörg were first ones to get back on stage I knew we were going to hear my big live favourite The Kiss Of Judas. They didn't let me down. You just have to love that bass! The beginning of S.O.S. was a bit disappointing, as it came completely from the tape. But the audience new the song better than other new songs (somewhat understandable), and in the end it was really good. And yet again Will The Sun Rise? was among the last songs of the set.
After another little break and a little loudness test Stratovarius intended to play two more songs. Distant Skies was the only song in the set from Fourth Dimension, and no songs from Dreamspace. Not that surprising, but still... Unfortunately after Distant Skies the band had to finish their set one song short, because of technical problems (or at least that's what Timo Kotipelto said). Too bad, as according to the set list the last song would've been the bonus track Cold Winter Nights, which I think is nothing but great tune.
Surprisingly, Jari turned out to be the most interesting character on stage this time (at least for me). His new bass, and bass being loud enough in mix made me watch him more carefully than ever before. And he is really good one with his instrument (though I'm not a musician, and don't know what professionals would say :-)
Hopefully I get to see Stratovarius a couple of times more during their tour. This gig had definitely the feeling of the first gig of the tour with new material. Playing wasn't all that accurate, and the new material didn't yet work as well as the older stuff, probably because the audience didn't know all the new songs well enough yet. But it will get better in a few weeks, I'm sure.