April 15, 2016
New York, NY USA
Review by Andy Laudano
Photos by Andy Laudano
Avantasia Comes Alive!
For metal fans at New York City's Playstation Theater, seeing Avantasia live, in the U.S., was a dream come true! Considering the schedules of the musicians involved in this "supergroup" and all the commitments to their own bands, it was hard enough in the past to pull off a European tour. But actually coming to America? This was never supposed to happen. They said it couldn't be done. It was too expensive to even try considering the cost of work visas, international flights, hotels and so much more. Plus, metal just isn't that popular in the U.S.
But despite having every reason not to, Avantasia gambled and announced two U.S. dates on their 2016 Ghostlights world tour, one in Anaheim, California and the other in New York City. Could there be a better place to see a band as theatrical as Avantasia, who's music is described as "a metal opera," than in the heart of Times Square's famous theater district, just off Broadway? The setting was perfect and fans from all across the U.S. packed the Playstation Theater. The air was electric and you could feel that something truly special was about to happen as the fans loudly chanted the band's name before they even took the stage.
The fans continued to cheer as one by one the musicians came out, drummer Felix Bohnke (Edguy), famous metal producers keyboardist Michael "Miro" Rodenberg and guitarist Sascha Paeth, guitarist/vocalist Oliver Hartmann (At Vance), bassist Andre Neygenfind and backing vocalists Amanda Somerville and Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed). But when lead vocalist and Avantasia founder, Tobias Sammet made his grand entrance the crowd exploded. Sammet kicked off the show with the first single from their latest album, "Mystery of A Blood Red Rose," before bringing out legendary Helloween vocalist, Michael Kiske to sing the album's title track, "Ghostlights." This was an extra special treat as Kiske hadn't played in the U.S. since 1989's Headbanger's Ball tour. Soon they were joined by another great vocalist, Ronnie Atkins (Pretty Maids) and the trio belted out "Unchain The Night."
The show shifted into yet another gear as the crowd clapped along to the opening of "The Scarecrow," one of the band's biggest hits, before the one and only Jorn Lande (Jorn) appeared mid way through the song to sing his parts to a huge ovation. He followed that up with the amazing ballad "Lucifer" from the new album showing again why he's one of the greatest vocalists on the planet. Sammet and Lande seemed genuinely surprised by the crowd's reaction as they loudly chanted "Jorn" and "Avantasia." "We had no idea what to expect in America, we were just hoping more than four people would show up," Sammet joked with the crowd.
As the founder of Avantasia, Tobias Sammet has sang at least part of every song on every album, but when doing a three and a half hour live set and having so many talented vocalists at hand, he was able to take an occasional break while someone else sang his parts. This would happen with "The Wicked Symphony," "Stargazers" and "Twisted Mind," the latter being sung masterfully by Ronnie Atkins and Eric Martin (Mr. Big).
Other highlights from this once in a lifetime set included "Shelter From the Rain" with Amanda Somerville singing Bob Catley's part (he missed this leg of the tour because he's out on tour with Magnum), "Let the Storm Descend Upon You" featuring Lande and Atkins, "Avantasia" featuring Kiske, and Sammet closing the show with "The Story Ain't Over" singing both his and Catley's parts. Playstation Theater has a strict curfew and as the show came to a close, Sammet gave someone on the side of the stage "the finger" and said "I don't care if we're fined, These people paid for the full show and that's what they'll get! It's not their fault we like to talk." The band returned for their encores, first playing their biggest hit so far, "Lost In Space" and then the entire cast took the stage for "Sign of the Cross/The Seven Angels" to end this unforgettable night. It may never happen again, but on this night dreams came true in New York City.