Live Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 13th, 2016
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
I came across a band called Edguy, and then when I found that the lead singer, Tobias Sammet, was having a Metal Opera Project called Avantasia, I hit the jackpot. Founded in 1999 with their first release, The Metal Opera in 2001 followed up by The Metal Opera Part II the next year my first experience was the 2010 release The Wicked Symphony. So on went the collection getting their outstanding 2008 The Scarecrow CD, and 2010’s Angel Of Babylon. In 2013 came The Mystery Of Time release which found the band touring worldwide including a stop in Quebec. If I would have known the band at that time I would not have missed that show.
In 2016, Ghostlights was unleashed and I have been enjoying this release as well as doing an album review here for Decibel Geek. Next up is the Ghostlights tour and finding their 2nd ever stop in Canada hitting Toronto thanks to Inertia Entertainment. Being so close to home, this was a dream show for me. Not missing a beat, I got online right at sale time for the tickets, and I lucked out with 4 front row center seats.
Over the years, there have been many band members and singers taking part in Avantasia. Joining Sammet on stage for the Toronto show – Sascha Paeth and Oliver Hartmann on guitar, Miro on keyboards and Felix Bohnke on drums. Guest vocalists Amanda Somerville, Herbie Langhans, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids, Nordic Union), Michael Kiske (Helloween, Unisonic, Place Vendome), Eric Martin (Mr. Big) and Jorn Lande were all on board for this round. An added bonus was having a photo pass for this show and shooting right from the stage.
Around 7:50pm, the lights dimmed down and the crowd 600 + people went crazy as we have all been waiting for this show. One at a time the band comes on, and at Sammet‘s arrival, the roar of the crowd escalated as we welcomed him to Toronto. Starting us off with the first single off the Ghostlights CD, “Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose” saw me struggling to stay calm and fire the camera which was not easy with the excitement. Sounding just as expected, spectacular!
Staying with the new CD, the title track “Ghostlights” is next and sharing the vocals with Sammet, a highlight for the crowd, was to see Michael Kiske hit the stage. His vocal range is out of this world.
Going to The Mystery Of Time album they delivered “Invoke The Machine“. As a fan of Pretty Maids since the mid 90’s when I discovered them, it was great to see Ronnie Atkins come out singing. Another true powerhouse vocalist.
Next up the vocals are handed to Hartmann for “The Watchmaker’s Dream“. This great song from The Mystery Of Time CD originally sung by Joe Lynn Turner was an honour to hear live and Hartmann did it justice.
Now it was time for the next singer to hit the stage. The Viking from Norway, Jorn Lande. I am a huge fan of his work and he brought it all on “The Scarecrow“. The crowd loves the older music but still a great response to the newer tracks as Lande continues with “Lucifer“.
Time for the last singer to join the show with Eric Martin singing “What’s Left Of Me” off of The Mystery Of Time CD. This was my first time seeing Martin. What a great voice, and on a side note – does this guy ever age?! He has become a fixture in Avantasia the last couple of years and a great fit.
Throughout the show, Sammet has been in and out letting the others take the spotlight. Next up would likely be the first Avantasia song I heard, the album title track “The Wicked Symphony” with a great mix of vocalists, Lande, Langhans, Martin, Somerville and Hartmann all sharing their talent.
The next single from the Ghostlights CD has Langhans singing “Draconian Love“, then going back in time to “Farewell“. The show goes through song after song while the crowd stays strong standing and shouting, and waving every time we are told to. “Stargazers” and “Shelter From The Rain” both went well, before Sammet dedicates the next song from the new album to Toronto, “Let The Storm Descend Upon You”.
“Promised Land“, “Reach Out For The Night“, “Avantasia” and “Twisted Mind” keep the setlist going for what will prove to be 3 plus hours!!
Next up is “The Great Mystery” and filling in for Bob Catley on vocals is Eric Martin. A great performance by Martin even though I really was hoping that Catley would make this tour.
Getting near the end, Martin joins Sammet in a duet for “Dying For An Angel“, originally done with Klaus Meine (Scorpions). “The Story Ain’t Over” from the Lost In Space EP completes the set, but thankfully this story was not done for the night. Avantasia came back on stage for the encore with their only track that hit the top 10 in the German charts, “Lost In Space“.
It was great to see fans from Mexico, Trinidad, throughout the USA and a new found friend who flew in from Vancouver.
With the amazing variety of top class singers we can’t leave out the band as Bohnke, Hartman, Miro and Paeth kept this rock opera performance powerful and with no one sitting for 23 songs.
I can’t wait for this June as I will get the chance to see this band play in front of 1000’s of fans at Sweden Rock Festival.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin