Photographs by Olivia Leung.
Before their performance at the Mod Club, I had the chance to talk to both a founding member, Tony Kakko, and the newcomer, Pasi Kauppinen, of Finnish metal band Sonata Arctica. Kakko described metal as a genre that is locked onto a wheel that continuously spins. Back in Europe, he recalls that this proverbial wheel is nearing the bottom of its rotation and will hopefully be heading towards its rise soon. He talked about the state of music overseas, where electronic music has been dominating. With all of this in mind, both he and Kauppinen were enthusiastic about performing at the Mod Club that evening; The very venue where many fans were athirst to hear their favorite uplifting music live.
Sonata Arctica have been at it for fifteen years, and that was a primary theme this evening. Songs of both old and new (their newest album Pariah’s Child was released earlier this year, and it featured more upbeat songs that Kakko felt were beneficial for their live shows) were played, and Kakko knew that the packed house would be more than willing to sing along. There was even a sign being passed around that gathered everyone’s signatures to welcome Kauppinen to both the band and Canada. Sonata Arctica are not short of beloved fans, and the band didn’t even need to try to reel these fans in.
They did try, however, and it’s this ambition that helps me believe what Kakko says about metal’s ability to be able to rise once again someday. Kauppinen (of whom plays bass), guitar player Elias Vijanen and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg would rotate their positions on stage like a swirling hurricane while drummer Tommy Portimo fixed himself high above the crowd on a lifted platform. Kakko himself tossed himself all over the stage and would pretend to play guitar with the microphone stand on many occasions: If fans could air guitar, why couldn’t he? Everyone was on top of their game, as they showed exactly why they have been relevant for well over a decade. The speed these musicians could play at is astonishing, and the fact that no one in the band seemed to flinch is something that only added to the fantastical magic that Sonata Arctic love to create.
They celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of their first album Ecliptica (which is going to get a remastered release soon in October) by playing material off of it, but it didn’t feel like they needed to shoot for the old days to appeal to fans. Everyone was thrilled at every second of Sonata Arctica’s set, because these guys know how to be proficient, how to have fun, and exactly what their fan base adores. When they play the music of their past, it’s to crack another beer open with their fans. Sonata Arctica are a fan friendly band with a crowd cherishing set that felt like one hell of a phantasmal party.