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Sonata Arctica / Antiquus

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Vancouver’s Antiquus has a lot of potential. They have solid musicianship and riffs. The have that great heavy prog-death sound matched with Jesse White’s powerful and melancholic voice. What they lacked tonight seemed to be lyrical variation. It seems much of what they were going on about was one story about a captain and the sea. Now, I’m all in favour of concept songs and even concept albums, but there needs to be variation on themes within that concept or it gets very boring, very quickly. Such was the case with their set this night, and the White’s excessively earnest recitations of poetry in between songs (again on the same topic) and his poses looking up to the heavens came across as more lamentable than lamentation. Nonetheless, they’re still a young band and they have great potential if they write themselves outside of their box.
Sonata Arctica was, of course, the main attraction of the night, and they did not disappoint those of us who had waited years to see their neo-prog metal performed live. Heavily influenced by fellow Finns Stratovarius and Nightwish, as well as the likes of Steve Vai and Frank Zappa, you could even say they wear their obsessions on their sleeves (at least guitarist Jani Liimatainen did). Their show consisted of the expected monster chops, exquisite melodies, fantastic energy and almost ESP-like synergy within the band, as well as great stage presence and crowd rapport. Singer Tony Kakko’s voice was in fine shape (I don’t believe for a second his bio claim to have never had any training), and he even got the crowd warmed up in a little sing-along towards the end of the night. I just wonder what the Finnish phrases he lead us through meant.
Never ones to wallow in misery, Sonata Arctica were gregarious and funny in between songs, and even closed the show with a chant of “Now we need some vodka” to the tune of some old Russian folk tune that I sort of dimly recognized. If they’re not already getting paid for the