Sara and I have been out of town this weekend to visit davidn. Part of the trip was just to hang out with him and his family, because they are lovely people and it is fantastic to see them. :) Part of it was to play Moss. Part of it was to do some in-person work on our upcoming album (which is... very, very early along, but the parts we do have sound fantastic and we couldn't be more excited for such an encouraging start.)
The catalyst that originally gave us the idea to have this trip, though, was to see Avantasia in concert, since they're currently in the middle of a world tour and they happened to be landing fairly close to David's house.
There are not many bands for which I would willingly drop close to a thousand dollars on plane tickets and concert tickets and etc. just to make it happen. David has also seen acts like Sabaton and a combined Helloween/Gamma Ray tour at that same venue near him, and I've just accepted that he's lucky to live in an area that bands actually visit, let him have his fun, and sit here at home, quietly envious. But Avantasia...
Let me put it this way. For those unfamiliar, Avantasia is a supergroup rock/metal opera project in which Edguy's Tobias Sammet flexes his connections and recruits pretty much a who's who of the entire genre to come do amazingly complex layered prog/power nonsense. Pretty much all you need to know from how all over the place their roster and styles are is to note that Blowing Out the Flame, Symphony of Life, and Alone I Remember are not only from the same band, they're from the same album, being the actually consecutive back-to-back tracks 7, 8, and 9 of Angel of Babylon.
Tobi has been making vague noises that "man putting all this Everything together and making Avantasia albums, let alone touring them, is fucking hard and this will probably be the last one you guys" noises for the past three albums in a row now. On one hand, this means he could very well keep going anyway because he's made that threat before, but on the other, you never know. In the meantime, God knows that even if they make another album and if they decide to do another world tour, they're not going to come any closer than this. Not only is Avantasia an actual bucket list item for me consisting of other actual bucket list items for me (pretty much all they had to do was bring Jorn Lande along and that's another huge one for me right there,) but this could (you never know) have been my last or only chance. It just... it was one of those things, which Sara helpfully reminded me when I was waffling on it, that I would regret forever if I didn't.
So, we did.
Executive summary: it was fucking magical. There's no way to know except in hindsight whether this was actually a once in a lifetime event, but if it was, it absolutely felt like one.
I was immediately impressed by just how close to the studio notes everyone hit live. I've been to a few concerts in my day, and those impossible flawless tool-assisted speedrun high segments you hear on the album are always either toned down into an improvised alternate easier to do workaround or they just let the crowd do it. With Avantasia, I'll say something like 90-95% of the time they just did it like it was no big deal because they're heroes.
The structure shifted through several acts, where Tobi (after getting Ghost in the Moon out as an opener by himself) brought out his five major guest vocalists one at a time to do two-person duets for a few songs with each, then Tobi himself took a break and the guests came back for a few rounds of alternating two-person "this song only it's guests #3 and 5 doing it" tag, then Tobi and everyone came back for the final numbers which ranged from 3+ to everyone. All the while, they had touring backing vocalists (Herbie Langhans and Adrienne Cowan) plus Oliver Hartmann on guitars/vocals to back up the main rotation and even co-lead on a couple songs.
1. Ghost in the Moon (feat. Tobias Sammet)
2. Starlight (feat. Tobias Sammet and Ronnie Atkins)
3. Book of Shallows (feat. Tobias Sammet and Ronnie Atkins)
(Note: Adrienne Cowan, in sudden very good death growl mode, temporarily co-led to do the "Going with the grain, numb the pain, we are common sense" part)
4. The Raven Child (feat. Tobias Sammet and Jorn Lande)
(Note: Okay I have to pause and unpack this one because it was one of the, if not the highlight of the evening for me. Going into this show, I had a vague recollection of having seen a list of the singers expected to be there... somewhere? And I thought I remembered Jorn was going to be there. But I didn't remember where I even saw that list, so I couldn't verify that. I was getting really worried when they did Book of Shallows with just Tobi and Ronnie--there's a Jorn part right there in that one but he wasn't there for that. And they didn't announce or bring out Jorn until after they'd gone all the way through the opening and the first verse and chorus with just Tobi.
But then, with no warning or announcement and right when I was really starting to get worried, he just walked right in to pick up the "Bewildering and strange.." verse and beyond, and I marked the fuck out. I made the most unholy whimpering baby noise. I legitimately cried. The surprise had a lot to do with it, mind you, but just... aaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaa
5. Lucifer (feat. Tobias Sammet and Jorn Lande)
(Note: AS IF I WASN'T CRYING ENOUGH ALREADY)
6. Alchemy (feat. Tobias Sammet and Geoff Tate)
7. Invincible (feat. Tobias Sammet and Geoff Tate)
(Note: On the album, Invincible is a mellow kind of warmup/intro-type ballad that leads directly into Alchemy. Yes, they really did do them in reverse order live, and gave Invincible a bit more of an improvised ending so it worked as a standalone thing.)
8. Reach Out For the Light (feat. Tobias Sammet)
(Note: None of the main special guests here, though the touring backup vocalists did a fantastic job covering!)
9. Moonglow (feat. Tobias Sammet and Adrienne Cowan)
(Note: Adrienne Cowan's time to co-lead! But I mean for a song like this she kind of had to. She was fantastic, too, and absolutely deserves that co-leading spot.)
10. Maniac (feat. Tobias Sammet and Eric Martin)
11. Dying for an Angel (feat. Tobias Sammet and Eric Martin)
12. Lavender (feat. Tobias Sammet and Bob Catley)
13. The Story Ain't Over (feat. Tobias Sammet and Bob Catley)
(Note: AS IF I WASN'T SQUEEING HARD ENOUGH ALREADY AAAQTHGSKLJ I'm not uploading a video of this one like I did for Jorn Lande's entrance, but take my word for it that I made pretty much that exact same noise and cried again when I realized what song they were playing. Look, this is one of my all-time favorites from them but I wasn't expecting it, okay? It's not even on one of their main albums; it's a B-side from the Lost in Space EP. But there it was, with Bob Catley and everything, and just... *happy tears*)
14. The Scarecrow (feat. Tobias Sammet and Jorn Lande)
(Note: THEY DID THE FUCKING JORN TRICK AGAIN. They did the entire first verse through chorus with Tobi alone, and then Jorn appeared unannounced just in time for "So you're an angel meant to walk down here..." and beyond. This time I at least knew he was here and was expecting him to come back at some point, so I didn't cry again, but I definitely popped for it.)
(Note: After this, Tobi excused himself and the others started filling in for....)
15. Promised Land (feat. Jorn Lande and Eric Martin)
16. Twisted Mind (feat. Eric Martin and Geoff Tate)
(Note: After this, Tobi came back!)
17. Avantasia (feat. Tobias Sammet and Geoff Tate)
18. Let the Storm Descend Upon You (feat. Tobias Sammet, Jorn Lande, and Ronnie Atkins)
19. Master of the Pendulum (feat. Tobias Sammet and Ronnie Atkins)
20. Shelter from the Rain (feat. Tobias Sammet, Herbie Langhans, and Bob Catley)
(Note: This was Herbie Langhan's time to co-lead, though, and he did an incredible job with the unenviable task of filling in for Michael Kiske.)
21. Mystery of a Blood Red Rose (feat. Tobias Sammet and Bob Catley)
22. Lost in Space (feat. Tobias Sammet)
(Note: There was a false ending after this one. A few people actually filed out, and David asked me if these were the same people who leave right when the credits start during Marvel movies. Sure enough, there was an encore!)
23. Farewell (feat. Tobias Sammet and Adrienne Cowan)
(Note: SQUEE. Another one of my all time favorites from them, if not one of my all time favorite songs period. I am absolutely not posting the video for this one, but I was so into it that I actually tried to belt out the Michael Kiske "No farewell could be the last one if you long to meet again" part at the end and came... close-ish? I mean I still butchered it, don't get me wrong. But for someone who was already hoarse from screaming for three hours before this song even started, making an attempt on something that high above my range, it's kind of amazing how close I came. The power of being that pumped!)
24. A medley of Sign of the Cross bleeding into The Seven Angels (feat. FUCKING EVERYONE)
That was the actual ending, leaving the entire set to weigh in at somewhere around three and a half hours.
My voice was utterly destroyed, we didn't make it back to David's house until around midnight, but that... that was everything I could have dared to hope and dream it would be, and more. The bar was raised pretty high for this show given the resources that went into us being able to attend. Don't get me wrong; even if the show had been disappointing, it was still fantastic to spend the weekend with David and work on our metal opera, of course. :) But this was kind of one of the big things we'd originally built the entire trip around.
They utterly destroyed that bar and... look. I've never cried at a concert before. That was new.
SO YEAH GOOD SHOW.
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