A perfect night for a concert in Toronto. Great weather and a Saturday evening September 3rd, 2016. Thankfully my wife and I came down early to enjoy some Vietnamese food at a nearby restaurant before going to the show. I decided to wear my 2014 Firefest shirt to see if anyone would have noticed that tonight’s headliners were listed on the back of my shirt. Next thing I hear someone at the table behind us commenting on the shirt, so I asked them if they recognize any of the bands. Well, it just happened to be 2 guys from the band Circus Maximus having dinner behind us! We briefly talked about that amazing 3 nights of shows and how the crowd loved Circus Maximus in England.
After dinner, we made it into The Hard Luck Bar. This is my third time at this venue this year. Never a good venue for photographers, but I’d try my best.
As mentioned, tonight’s headliner came to us all the way from Norway, and the openers are local Toronto band Ascendia. This is my first time seeing Ascendia, as I first heard of them in 2015. Thanks to social media, a friend mentioned the band and I thought I would check them out. Right away I thought this was amazing and thought they were from Europe. To my surprise, I find myself rocking it out to a symphonic metal band from Toronto. A more common sound to the European market it was great to see a Canadian band bringing this style of music to our homeland.
As usual, I position myself to the front of the stage with my Nikon D750 in hand.
Finally, Ascendia comes on stage with “No More Tales To Tell”. I’m in awe with finally seeing this band live, I was impressed with a good fan base supporting the band. Ascendia‘s debut album The Lion And The Jester made my Top 10 CD’s of 2015. (Check out the album review I wrote for The Lion And The Jester.) Having the opening slot for the evening it would be a short setlist with 6 tracks. Even though they sounded great and the crowd loved the cover of Dio‘s “Holy Diver”, I wanted to hear as many songs as possible of their own material.
With the occasional high pitched feedback throughout their set, lead singer Nick Sakal didn’t let it phase him as he gave us a real performance, and sang like he was singing for thousands of people in a stadium. John Lov on guitars/backing vocals and brother Billy Lov pounding the drums. Steve Kerr joined the band on bass.
The last song of the night and first song on their album “At The End Of It All” sounded amazing. Nick‘s stunning voice has the audience wanting more, but tonight was not all about Ascendia.
A truly talented band that has a fan base throughout the world. Just off their second successful performance at ProgPower USA in Atlanta a week after the Toronto show we all look forward to seeing this band continue to play live and put out more music.
Many fans are looking for this band to get signed and come out with a follow-up album. Check out my photo galleries at the bottom of this article.
No More Tales To Tell Faded Away
Holy Diver (Dio Cover)
At The End Of It All
Imminent Sonic Destruction was the next band to hit the stage. Once the second song started, I hate to say it but – it was time to go to Tim Hortons. That’s all I will say. It wasn’t my taste in music; maybe I just didn’t understand it or get their musical vibe.
Next up is Circus Maximus who were also on the bill with Ascendia at ProgPower USA. I had the chance to see Circus Maximus at Firefest in Nottingham England in 2014. I had never heard of them before England, but they put on a great show with a lot of supporters. When I got home I decided to check out their releases. They have some great material and their live show rocked in England so I was looking forward to seeing them again.
The band consists of Michael Eriksen – vocals, Mats Haugen – guitars, Glen Mollen – bass, Truls Haugen – drums and Lasse Finbraten – keyboards.
The lights dim with “Planet Of The Apes: Opening Titles” and “Forging” both playing in the background before the band started off their set list with “Namaste”. Once again it was full of energy, demanding the crowd be involved in the show with fist pumping and shouting along. With the feedback issue resolved after the troubles Ascendia had, Circus Maximus continued with pounding out all their hits and some surprises. The lighting got better for their performance but it was all about the music tonight. I always love to see the fans singing along to every song as it reminds me of myself with the music I grew up with in the 80’s. I knew every word and still I catch myself singing along, but I try and control it as the voice fades away after all these years of pretending I am a rock ‘n’ roll singer!!
The band sounded great throughout the set as they finished with “Game Of Life”. Be sure to check out my photo galleries for both bands below.
My wife Shari was very happy she came out with me tonight. She was familiar with Ascendia so I bought her some merch, and she really enjoyed Circus Maximus enough to get me to buy her the $50 sweater.
A big thank you to Noel Peters from Inertia Entertainment for promoting this amazing show and bringing in this band all the way from Norway.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin
A Darkened Mind
The 1st Chapter
Arrival Of Love
Architect Of Fortune
Game Of Life