I was already a fan from the early years of EDGUY. In the time as Tobias Sammet and his merry man still had hidden tracks as “Das Reh” and as they have been the opener to Wacken in cowfur trowsers.

As Sammet started the project AVANTASIA over ten years ago, which was originally to be one heavy metal opera project, I still followed the changes and movements. Unfortunately then there where discussions and rumours about getting AVANTASIA on stage and having heard too many red herrings I lost interest.
After two albums  “The Metal Opera – Part I ” (2001) and “The Metal Opera – Part II ” (2002) it got anyway very quiet around AVANTASIA. 2007 the project received new life with “Lost In Space” EP and “The Scarecrow “.
At this point, Tobias still struggled again against life performances and saw the live performances on festivals as appetizers to the album. Tobias Sammet still believed that there will be too much loss of the intentions of AVANTASIA if you would attempt to perform a real show and a tour as such.

Apparently, he changed his mind and assembled a Who’s Who “of the melodic metal scene to bring AVANTASIA to life: Amanda Somerville (v.), Jørn Lande (v.), Bob Catley (v.), Michael Kiske (v.), Kai Hansen (v. / g.), Oliver Hartmann (g / v), Sascha Paeth (g), Michael Rodenberg (k), etc.

Photo taken by Nadja Meyer.This lineup is one of the many reasons, the snowstorm did not get in our way, as we started our 3-hour journey from Amsterdam to Essen,  Germany.

As I am not the tallest, we wanted to be a bit in time for a good spot. My press days are over, so I can not cosily hide in the photo pit anymore and since I constantly have Murphy against me in the form of o bunch of  2-meter Metal Heads, I just didn’t want to take a chance. That decision paid off though it brought also 1 hour standing in the falling snow. Also, I felt a bit like a whip as we chose for seats, but they guaranteed free view onto the stage and being behind the sound crew always pays off for the right audio experience.

With a little delay, the tunes blasted through the room and I felt like a little child at Christmas eve. The first song “Twisted mind” passed so quickly that it seemed only seconds before Jørn Lande stormed the stage. And again I marvelled on the two voices that are easily in my all-time top five favourites.

Apparently, Tobias bonded over this tour and wanted to share some of it with the public before the next song:

Tobias: 
Jørn ho the greatest voice ever, but that is not the only great thing about him.

Jørn:
I really don’t know if I like where that is going….and laughs a little nervous.
Tobias:
Well, I am aiming a little in the lower region here, coz we have been yesterday to the sauna together and there I saw that Jørn also has a huge one…
Jørn:
And you have a really thin one..
Tobias:
Yours reminded me of the next song though… Serpents in Paradise….

Even if that was more information that I actually wanted over my favorite singers, it certainly entertained the crowd :p
“Snakes in Paradise” is also a very energetic song and both entertainers knew exactly how to treat it and play with each other to give us a great show.

Without any big introduction, but rather sneaky hidden by the rather bad lighting on stage –  70 per cent of the show have been shadows on stage rather than visible musicians –  Bob Catley exchanged places with Jørn for the theatrical ” The story ain’t over “. Catley (MAGNUM) still has a very impressive voice and more now, than I could remember from his last live performances. But what I couldn’t remember from the last live performance is the activeness of his hands. They have been flying through the air as if they would have a life of their own. Arnold was very positive about Catley’s voice, but these hands made him visibly nervous.

Now Catley traded places with the man, most of the people here tonight have been waiting for. He is a legend in the metal scene and I haven’t had the experience yet to see him perform. With “Reach out for the light”  Tobias and Michael Kiske (former HELLOWEEN) mounted the top of the stage in a battle stance against each other.
Though a lot of the fans, would like to come and hit me now, with this first song, I did not see why Michael ever got the status of Legend. There was not much of stage present, ridicules outfit (wool-hat in 100-degree stage light)  and his vocals seemed rather thin to me. As if he wasn’t warmed up and this is his practice run. To me, that was very disappointing, coz I just loved him on the old records.

With the following song “The Tower” my theories seemed to take shape. Here Kiske’s qualities as the singer started to shine through though he forgot some of the lyrics and Tobias had to help him with the timings. To be fair, it might also have been due to Tobias pretending to squeeze Michael’s balls for the high notes and confused the Metalveteran with it to no end.

Tobias as Michael Kiske left the stage :

He is the reason why I am a singer…

The following song is one of my favourite of AVANTASIA and as I recognized the tune, I hoped to see another of my all-time favourites, but the shape on stage in the shadows and fog was much to thin to be John Oliva. After a while, it was apparent to my friend Oliver, that here we witness Mr Kai Hansen with “Death is just a feeling “. He was the only one, that actually played his character and even dressed accordingly and I loved him for that. Even if Johns vocals stayed untouched, he was a very close call and I was not at all disappointed Tobias choose him as a replacement.

Now that we have seen every guest at least once, Tobias Sammet takes a solo with ‘Lost In Space’. In the introduction he mentioned that he knows, the critic has torn apart this song, but he likes to sing it and animated the audience to sing along. As normal on german soil, Tobias was very talkative and looked for contact with the audience which resulted in the one or other funny announcement. Here we continue then with ‘In Quest For’ where Bob Catley slipped but managed to not drop a note and then apologized for being tipsy “Hey, but that is Rock ‘ n Roll“, ‘Runaway Train’ and ‘Dying For An Angel’, in different singer constellations.

Drummer Felix Bohnke (EDGUY) stands up at end of Runaway Train and tries to be artistic. Since he threw and didn’t catch the drum stick he failed that but managed at least to be sympathetic with his apologizing smile and his black and white hand gloves.

With ‘Stargazer’ guitar player Oliver Hartmann (AT VANCE) conquered the Microphone and did a good job at that with Jørn and Michel as background singers.

Amanda Somerville was most of the evening the woman in the background but finally was allowed to show her talent with “Farwell”.
To start the last bit of the evening Tobias, Oliver and Jørn offered us “The wicked symphony”

As it is custom for concerts everybody left the stage, so we could coax them out of hiding again. Kai Hansen really gained some more plus points with “Toy Master” thou I am not sure about his Big Sack joke at the end of the song :p

Why does Santa have such a big sack? – Coz’ he only cums once a year!

At least it fitted to the tone set at the beginning of the evening with the Snakes in paradise.

With ” Shelter from the rain”  Kai gabbed his guitar and with Kiske on the vocals, the younger generation got a little glimpse of what HELLOWEEN could have been

Sadly with the song “Avantasia” we have reached the end and Tobias feels the need to say some words and introduce the crew:

I actually didn’t want to do the tour, but the Agency asked me to do it anyway and though not sure if it is the right decision, standing here tonight confirms the choices we made. This is the last show of the tour maybe even of  Avantasia at all.
We travel with the Smallest possible crew of 6 people.  We don’t get nor do we need a red carpet. We only need some people with knowledge  of instruments.

Though I am not allowed to write it – Tobias asked us that before his speech – I can not neglect the fact that though I really like that he mentioning of the crew, it was just to long.
He paused too often and introduced some people he already made a point to introduce during the show. It was certainly time they could have better used to play another 2 songs at least.

As the last song for the evening, the choice fell on ” Sign of the cross ” where this time everybody joined in. It was amazing to hear all the different voices play together and left me with a warm feeling as we left the hall.

SUMMARY:

I make the point to not read a lot about a show before I go there. This so I have made my own expectations and I am not biased and influenced by the opinions of others.
As I read that AVANTASIA would perform, I expected a spectacle with costumes and storyline. In the same lines that CIRRHA NIVA performed their famous “Liaison de la Mort” in 2001. Instead we “only” got a simple stage show with bad lighting and to much stratolights.

The sound was good and the show was great too. It will be very rare, that you get so many of your favourite vocals to perform together as tonight and that’s the reason I can not be disappointed. The quality of playing the music and performing it as musicians was great and no doubt deserves to be remembered rather than my false expectations.
But maybe that would be something to think about for the next AVANTASIA tour?


Setlist

Twisted Mind
The Scarecrow with Jørn Lande
Promised Land with Jørn Lande
Serpents in Paradise with Jørn Lande
The Story Ain’t Over with Bob Catley
Prelude on Tape
Reach Out for the Light with Michael Kiske
The Tower with Michael Kiske
Death Is Just a Feeling with Kai Hansen
Lost in Space
In Quest For with Bob Catley
Runaway Train with Jørn Lande, Michael Kiske, Bob Catley
Dying for an Angel with Michael Kiske
Stargazers with Jørn Lande, Michael Kiske, Oliver Hartmann, without Tobias Sammet
Farewell with Amanda Somerville
The Wicked Symphony with  Jørn Lande, Oliver Hartmann

The Toy Master with Kai Hansen
Shelter From the Rain with Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen on guitar
Avantasia with Michael Kiske, Kai Hansen on guitar
Sign of the Cross / The Seven Angels with Jørn Lande, Michael Kiske, Bob Catley, Oliver Hartmann, Amanda Somerville, Kai Hansen on guitar

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