What do Xandria, Delain, and Sonata Arctica have in common? They all play power metal, they all have new albums out, they’re touring together, and I saw them Sunday night in Lawrence, Kansas. Metal in and of itself is not a very mainstream genre of music, and symphonic/melodic/power metal is even less so, especially in North America. Overseas, in Europe and Scandinavia, these bands enjoy playing to sold out arenas, or performing at major festivals; here, they play smaller, more intimate venues, like the Granada, in Lawrence. Lucky for us.
Though I had no official headcount, I’d estimate that there were probably around 250 in attendance, certainly a small enough crowd for the bands to meet with everyone after the show, which Xandria and Delain did, happily signing autographs, and taking photos with their fans (I got to play fan, too, getting Delain and Xandria to sign a couple of CDs); Sonata Arcitca did their meet and greet, at extra cost, prior to the show.
And I don’t know if it’s unique among metal fans, but it’s certainly something that I haven’t noticed at other shows, but it was refreshing to see the audience enjoying the show live, as opposed to through their cell phones; too often, at concerts, people are content to hold their phones up, and record video, to watch later, instead of living in the moment. Those that were using their cameras only did so to take a few quick pictures. If only more people did this, they’d enjoy the concert a lot more.
Xandria has gone through a number of lineup changes over the years, and brought a new singer with them, Dianne van Giersbergen, who also provided vocals on their latest album, Sacrificium. performing only five songs, Xandria needed to work hard to provide a mix of the old and new songs, which they did well, opening with Nightfall. The performance was only flawed from a microphone whose volume had been turned down too low, rendering Dianne unheard for the first few seconds of the song. It’s these sorts of things that bring charm to live entertainment.
Though the stage is small at the Granada, Xandria made good use of it, making sure to cover as much of it as they could, which is more than can be said for the lighting, leaving most of the musicians in near darkness for most of the evening.
Delain was up next on the same stage they performed on last year, when providing support to Kamelot, with Eklipse. With their latest album, The Human Contradiction in tow, Delain was ready to play a set of 16 songs for the appreciable crowd. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, I was only able to give their new release one or two listens, so wasn’t as familiar with the new material as others in attendance may have been.
With songs like ‘Pristine,’ from their debut album, ‘Mother Machine,’ ‘Milk and Honey,’ and, ‘We Are the Others,’ all from the album of the same name, Delain covered a wide breadth of their discography, with fans sure to hear their favorites. Delain always puts on a solid performance, and Charlotte truly enjoys performing, and it shows, with the way she interacts with the crowd.
Celebrating their 15th year, Sonata Arctica came on after a set strike. With their new album, Pariah’s Child, to promote, Sonata Arctica wasted no time in opening their set with the album’s opening track, “Wolves Die Young,” which was quickly followed with perennial favorites “Losing My Insanity,” and “My Land,” which, naturally, received great reactions from the crowd. From what I had seen earlier on the tour, Sonata Arctica had played “What Did You Do in the War, Dad?” from Pariah’s Child, I was a little disappointed that it did not make it onto their set list in Lawrence, though there was no shortage of songs from Pariah’s Child. “Cloud Factory,” being one of the newer songs, introduced while talking about the paper mills that surround their home town, and “X Marks the Spot,” also from the new album, gave everyone who had not yet heard it a nice sampling of what’s on there.
“X” is a humorous song, about the almost religious experience of rock and roll. There is a bit of dialogue that introduces the track, and scattered throughout I was a little surprised that an audio track was used for playback, as opposed to someone in the band “playing” the man saved by rock and roll, especially since Tony Kakko, lead vocalist, did the parts in the middle (“Give me a hey, hey!”), and seemed to be mouthing, and miming the script at different points.
But, these are minor quibbles, and it comes down to the music that is delivered. And Xandria, Delain, and Sonata Arctica each delivered a fantastic set, and each could easily fill the Granada, if they were the only one on the bill. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to pick up the new albums by Xandria, Delain, and Sonata Arctica; if you don’t have any in your collection, be sure to pick any of them up. For more information about the bands, please visit their websites, which are linked below.