Boy was I excited. And nervous. Since I found out that Stratovarius was coming to town, I was really wondering what sort of crowd would turn up to a band that is, as far as I know, virtually unknown in town. I was also nervous that the people I had dragged to come see the show (like Diane) wouldn't like it and be forced to endure a few hours of misery.
Thankfully, I really had no reason to worry. Metal fans came out of the woodwork and we had a decent sized crowd - more people than I expected for sure!
Now for my show review.
I arrived at the door around 8:00. The starlite room is a members only club - so some of the people in my group needed memberships. We hung around there and got memberships for them and then entered the place. This was the first time I'd been at the starlite room - it was a pretty neat venue. Pretty small, but my first thoughts were that it was an awesome little venue to see a top notch band like Stratovarius.
The opening band, Into Eternity, started up at 8:45pm sharp. I had not heard anything by them before, and I think its obvious that I would have benefited from doing a little research before hand. I wish people would realize that its not all about making music as loud as possible. Sure, more volume can make things sound really good. But the clarity and balance of all the instruments together that makes for a good listening experience. That is my biggest complaint for the opening band - they seemed extremely talented, but because of the balance issues, I could barely hear the middle range of the vocals. The only notes we heard were when they were growling into their mics or when the lead singer hit some super high notes. I may have to take a listen to some of their music to see if I like them. Unfortunately, the show was not enough to make me buy a cd right then and there.
Finally, Stratovarius made it on stage, and they started in with a great deal of energy. The volume/balance issue did affect them too, but to a lesser extent as more of the Strato songs included quieter ballad songs that took us away from the sheer volume for a few songs. Still, the balance was a major complaint of mine and if I hadn't heard the songs before I think I would've enjoyed the show a little less than I did.
Don't get me wrong - the show was amazing. I find myself wishing that I had more time to spend with my keyboard to try and learn how to play as well as Jens Johannson. For those who don't know, he used to play backup keyboards for Yngwie Malmsteen - often heralded as one of the best speed guitar players. So Jens is a pretty amazing keyboardist since he was able to keep up with Yngwie, and is now playing with Timo Tolkki - who is pretty amazing as well.
They could've kept playing for another hour and half at least and not run out of songs. Stratovarius has a long list of cds they've put out over the years. I think the count is up at 12 cds or something, and almost all the songs on the discs are good enough to be played in a live show like this one. Unfortunately, they couldn't play all night, since they needed to be in Calgary the next day ... They gave us a good selection of music from their repertoire, including some old and some new.
They played two encores - the first ending with Hunting High and Low and the second ending with ... of course ... Black Diamond. There was a startling number of fans who knew the words to many of the songs and that was pretty sweet.
All in all, it was a pretty incredible evening. I'm very happy that they came to town, and at the end of their show they had a slide at the back that said they were coming back in 2007! Woohoo!
Maybe I can drag a few more people to the show this time ;-)