Aria in Tallinn, 3.04.2009
Aria - Rock Café, Tallinn, Estonia, 03.04.2009 by Ivor (24)
For those not familiar with Aria (Ария), this legendary band is the russian equivalent of Iron Maiden, whose music and appearance they also tried to mimic in the beginning. However, during the 25 years of their career they gradually developed their own unique style and have a huge following in Russia and, despite singing exclusively in russian, have been gaining some recognition abroad as well.
Last time Aria visited Tallinn in 2005, but just a few months ago the former vocalist's band Kipelov (Кипелов) played at the same venue, performing a lot of old Aria songs - so I couldn't help but draw a few comparisons in the course of this report.
Here's the first one: despite being the more well-known name and having cheaper tickets, Aria gathered noticeably less audience than both their own previous concert and Kipelov. Maybe the lack of advertisement is to blame, or perhaps Artur Berkut, who is not as universally loved as the old vocalist? Or maybe it's the financial crisis? Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, the less is the better - easier to breathe, make notes and sip beer from a plastic glass.
Without any warm-up, smoke, special effects or annoyingly long epic intro, and exactly on time the band, subtly attired in black pants and black t-shirts, appeared on stage and plunged right into one of their faster tracks, Химера. No stage design, simple lighting - everything pointed the focus in the direction of the music itself and not the 'show'.
A lot of the elements were there - good sound and flawless performance and a rather interesting set list, but unfortunately still more were missing… Especially in the beginning, the band seemed rather tired (bored?) and less than energetic - even Berkut, who tried his best to appear involved, running around the stage and interacting with the audience. The audience in turn was rather impassionate, clapping and cheering lazily at the end of the songs, with only occasional flashes of excitement and moshing/headbanging within the 5 meter radius from the stage.
High number of slower philosophical songs (Отшельник, Беги За Солнцем, Палач) and the absence of many usual crowd-pleasers (Герой Асфальта, Тореро, Грязь) didn't help either. However, personally I was very pleased with the set list, as it included many of the more interesting songs which they didn't perform last time. The only exception was the horribly upbeat song Дай Жару, which I absolutely hate and which they for some weird reason chose to finish the set with. Sort of left a bad aftertaste...
Things warmed up a bit towards the second part of the concert, largely thanks to Berkut getting his usual drive back and entertaining the audience by dressing up as an executioner for the song Палач and putting on the acid punk-orc mask someone threw onto the stage. Particularly the excellent delivery of Бал У Князя Тьмы and Антихрист was the turning point, where the audience had been won over and started to sing along and really be involved rather than just stand around looking half-asleep.
The rest of the band's stage presence was, however, pretty non-existant. Sure, they played their repertoire to perfection, but they just weren't into it, and it showed. The younger musicians in Kipelov's band delivered the same songs with a lot more energy and style, even if maybe not as flawlessly. Now, I'd like to point out that I'm one of those who like the post-Kipelov Aria as much (if not more) than the "classic" Aria, so I'm not in any way biased here. I really hope the guys can summon the strength for more excellent albums and concerts - and if they ever come to Estonia again, I'll definitely go see them - because despite of its flaws, the concert was still very enjoyable and it was great to hear some of my favorite songs live.
Here's the full set-list:
Беги За Солнцем
Не Хочешь Не Верь Мне
Тебе Дадут Знак
Бал У Князя Тьмы
Свет Былой Любви
Pictures by Ivor.
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