Rating:
N/A
Sonata Arctica - Live In Finland [DVD]
11 November 2011


Disc I [DVD - Live In Finland]
01. Intro (Everything Fades To Gray)
02. Flag In The Ground
03. Last Amazing Grays
04. Juliet
05. Replica
06. Blank File
07. As If The World Wasn't Ending
08. Paid In Full
09. Victoria's Secret
10. Instrumental Exhibition
11. The Misery
12. Fullmoon
13. In Black & White
14. Mary-Lou
15. Shy
16. Letter To Dana
17. Caleb
18. Don't Say A Word
19. Outro (Vodka/Everything Fades To Gray)

Disc II [DVD - Sonata Arctica Open Air II]
01. White Pearl, Black Oceans
02. Draw Me
03. In Black & White
04. Don't Say A Word

Extra Features:
+ Making Of "Live In Finland"
+ Making Of "Flag In The Ground"
+ Latin-American Tour Documentary
+ Made In Finland - Tour Documentary
+ Music Videos:
    1 - Don't Say A Word
    2 - Paid In Full
    3 - Flag In The Ground
+ Acoustic live at Alcatraz, Milano
+ The Flag In The Ground-Cover Contest
+ Photo Galleries


If you've recently been in a situation where you wanted to show someone the true live sound of Sonata Arctica, you'd be in two minds, for their only official DVD is five years old, featuring a different lineup and sound, but on the other hand, the recent bootlegs come mostly from festivals and they don't capture the feeling and setlist of a single tour show. Time has finally come for a new DVD, which unfortunately doesn't come without a number of flaws, but manages to satisfy when the bottom line is drawn.

I'll start from the worse part - the directing. With an energetic band on stage, you can't catch it all, and it's alright - no one expects every note of the lengthy solos to be captured on video, or documenting every move of a bouncy frontman. But the proper solution certainly isn't to cut it all in half in inappropriate places. We don't need footage of Elias strumming a single note on the guitar while Tommy is doing an intricate drum passage, as much as we don't need close-up shots of Henkka's bushy mane (as lovely as it is) while Tony is interacting with the audience in the background. You're wondering why I haven't brought up their bassist, Marko? The director hasn't bothered with it either. But at least he gave us Sonata-fans enough material to keep on joking about Marko's invisibility for many years to come. And since this is not an instructional DVD, more than just musicians' hands are needed to be seen.

This is probably not as distracting as I've presented it here, but in addition, the show is laden with fast cuts, blurring and slow motion parts in sepia, which certainly have their place in the special parts of the concert, but not in abundance during every other song. I'm ready to forgive the person responsible, since they've also captured a handful of priceless moments, but the band chemistry seems edited out of this DVD and it would be more enjoyable if most of the songs were edited like "Paid In Full" or "Caleb".

The show itself is a different story. Tony Kakko delivered something close to perfection, particularly on older songs and the ballads. The two leading men on keyboard and guitar impressed me with their stunning performance, especially the very casual Henrik Klingenberg who has stepped up to the plate and played the show without goofing off. Since the departure of original guitarist, Jani Liimatainen, who was of awesome help as a backing vocalist, the band has used tapes to fill in more than half of the backing vocals, but not anymore - Henkka has provided some thrashy grunts as well, hitting more notes than usually. The setlist is always a matter of quarrels, but turning the weight towards newer albums is only natural. The appearance of very rare live gems ("The Misery", "Shy") and old crowd pleasers (the awesome "Blank File", "Victoria's Secret") can't be a bad thing either. Most of the songs sound superior not only to the previous recordings, but also the studio versions as well.

The package contains additional live shots and documentaries, all pretty interesting, though not very informative for long-time fans. If you don't mind overly dramatic video editing, and want to see a band at the top of their game - an awesome acoustic part of the set, crowd participation, Tony's acting during "Juliet" or trolling during "Don't Say A Word", and Elias Viljanen shredding away until the last hardcore fan of Liimatainen is persuaded that the line-up change was a good thing - you should watch this.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: -
Originality: -
Production: 7


Band profile: Sonata Arctica
Album: Live In Finland


 



Written on 30.11.2011 by
Milena
A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.
More reviews by Milena ››



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Troy Killjoy - 30.11.2011 at 21:12  
I was actually kind of tempted to watch this when I got to the end of your review but then I remembered it's SA.

Close, but not quite.
CyGuy6587 - 30.11.2011 at 21:15  
My main issue with the editing is you can't hear the audience sing along, especially for key moments like the into to Victoria's Secret. Also in The Misery, you can just about hear the crowd sing with Tony, quite frustrating. But other than that the band are pretty much spot on, and the setlist is brill!
Milena - 30.11.2011 at 23:04  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 30.11.2011 at 21:12

I was actually kind of tempted to watch this when I got to the end of your review but then I remembered it's SA.

Close, but not quite.

No band is for everyone, and I'm fine with it

Written by CyGuy6587 on 30.11.2011 at 21:15

My main issue with the editing is you can't hear the audience sing along, especially for key moments like the into to Victoria's Secret. Also in The Misery, you can just about hear the crowd sing with Tony, quite frustrating. But other than that the band are pretty much spot on, and the setlist is brill!

Yeah, there's a whole lot of similar blunders, you'll see a shitload of people slandering it on the SA forum, but really, people should stop nitpicking and enjoy the show, for it's as awesome as it can get.
Angel_Lament - 01.12.2011 at 00:48  
Cool review, you got me more interested in this, I should probably start getting this, as its gonna take a long time to be ready...
Carl Berg - 01.12.2011 at 00:49  
I'm getting this. Now.
Milena - 01.12.2011 at 00:54  
Written by Carl Berg on 01.12.2011 at 00:49

I'm getting this. Now.

If you ever in your life liked Sonata Arctica, you should. And if you never got the chance to check them out, this might give you an idea why people like them as much as some of us do. I kinda grew up with this band, but I never grew out of them - they grew up alongside me as well. This makes me quite critical of their releases, but also quite proud of their career path so far. And proud of this DVD, it could have been much better but their part of the job is done flawlessly.
thaurer - 01.12.2011 at 02:34  
I still haven't seen the DVD, and your review kindda take away some of my willing to watch it.
(Nice review though)
But, since I still havent got a chance to see them live (one of my biggest sorrows btw) I have no other way but take a look at the DVD 'cause its the closer it gets, I guess...
dismaleuphony - 01.12.2011 at 07:08  
Cool review I feel like I've got a good picture of what to expect with the DVD, and even if I did like the setlist (which I don't), I have a feeling I'd be annoyed by the production of the DVD. If the setlist doesn't have "Gravenimage" or "The Cage," I'm mostly not interested But, being that my experience seeing them live was mostly unforgettable, there is a curiousity to see such a good performance from them...
Milena - 01.12.2011 at 10:11  
Written by dismaleuphony on 01.12.2011 at 07:08

Cool review I feel like I've got a good picture of what to expect with the DVD, and even if I did like the setlist (which I don't), I have a feeling I'd be annoyed by the production of the DVD. If the setlist doesn't have "Gravenimage" or "The Cage," I'm mostly not interested But, being that my experience seeing them live was mostly unforgettable, there is a curiousity to see such a good performance from them...

Yeah, The Cage is really a staple of Sonata shows, though they tended not to play it on recent tours, but after hearing that acoustic set or The Misery, I didn't have the heart to complain about the setlist anymore
Hammer34 - 02.12.2011 at 00:32  
Haven't watched the DVDs yet, but have listened to the CDs in my car driving to work. Overall great performances and I like that the set list reflects what they are playing at their more recent shows (though they have treated us to "The Cage" the last 3 or 4 times I've seen them in Worcester, MA USA). Particularly the tracks from Days Of Grays I think work much better live than the album versions.

My one complaint is about the mix of the CDs (perhaps the DVD sound differs). The rhythm guitar parts are virtually non-existent!!!??? Except for slower parts or ballads that are guitar led ("Replica," "The Misery, etc."), and the leads and solos, you can barely hear the guitar. I don't get this as it really makes the overall band sound very "thin." Particularly a track like "Paid In Full" where the emotion of that song is driven by that great chugging riff, the guitar sounds like it's being played through a tiny, hand-held, transistor radio.

I get that this is Tony's show and you can clearly hear that vocals and keyboards dominate the mix, and that's fine, but I just think the barely audible rhythm guitar parts really rob the performances of some power. The funny thing is, when I have seen them live I have never felt like the guitar takes a back seat, so it's curious they chose to mix the CDs this way.

So overall, IMO, these are great performances, the band is very tight, in particular some awesome vocal parts by Tony, just disappointing about the guitar mix.
Milena - 02.12.2011 at 00:43  
Written by Hammer34 on 02.12.2011 at 00:32

My one complaint is about the mix of the CDs (perhaps the DVDs sound differs). The rhythm guitar parts are virtually non-existent!!!??? Except for slower parts or ballads that are guitar led ("Replica," "The Misery, etc."), and the leads and solos, you can barely hear the guitar. I don't get this as it really makes the overall band sound very "thin." Particularly a track like "Paid In Full" where the emotion of that song is driven by that great chugging riff, the guitar sounds like it's being played through a tiny, hand-held, transistor radio.


I think the reason behind this is that the studio versions of the songs usually have more than one guitar track, and the live versions don't have that. You're not the first fan to complain about this, but the band had said way before that the band chemistry is the most important thing to them, and that hiring a second guitarist might do some damage to it, so they prefer to perform with one guitar and try to get the best sound out of it. But those statements were made back in the day when they didn't have a big enough team around them to compensate that in the mix. I do notice that sometimes, but the audio mix is better on the DVD, especially if you're listening to it with a good set of speakers (thank god my friends have better speakers than me!), so I honestly wasn't bothered with it.

And glad to see there's not a single "Jani shredded better" comment on this thread yet.
Array - 10.12.2011 at 18:26  
Watched this yesterday. "Marko's invisibility..." True (and weird).

It's a decent show. The biggest thing to complain was that the climax was a really early one. "Juliet" after the really strong beginning of the show already 'nailed' the gig ("The Misery" was also a high point on its own). And if we look what was going on at the spot we usually meet the climax, we have some sort of an anticlimax there.

Anticlimax aka the campfire section of the show

14. Mary-Lou
15. Shy
16. Letter To Dana

Seriously, three campfire songs nonstop...

And then came "Caleb", which was professionally played etc., but it felt like another band had conquered the stage.
Well, probably some people like the way how this setlist was constructed, but it didn't really work with me.
Milena - 11.12.2011 at 02:59  
Written by Array on 10.12.2011 at 18:26

Watched this yesterday. "Marko's invisibility..." True (and weird).

It's a decent show. The biggest thing to complain was that the climax was a really early one. "Juliet" after the really strong beginning of the show already 'nailed' the gig ("The Misery" was also a high point on its own). And if we look what was going on at the spot we usually meet the climax, we have some sort of an anticlimax there.

Anticlimax aka the campfire section of the show

14. Mary-Lou
15. Shy
16. Letter To Dana

Seriously, three campfire songs nonstop...

And then came "Caleb", which was professionally played etc., but it felt like another band had conquered the stage.
Well, probably some people like the way how this setlist was constructed, but it didn't really work with me.

For a lot of people I talked to, the campfire set was the most emotional thing in the show

and yes, Marko is traditionally invisible... on FTSoR, you'll see him disappearing from the stage completely at some moments. Dunno why he does that. He is a very good looking guy, hiding from the camera that much is pretty stupid. And not just from the camera, he tends to stay as far back as possible on regular shows. But it's a Sonata tradition in a way... after my first Sonata show, I bragged to people about how I was able to see him because I paid attention from the start, and 90% of the people said:"Dammit, during the whole show, I only got one or two looks at him." That's how perfect in hiding he is
Array - 11.12.2011 at 03:11  
Written by Milena on 11.12.2011 at 02:59


For a lot of people I talked to, the campfire set was the most emotional thing in the show

and yes, Marko is traditionally invisible... on FTSoR, you'll see him disappearing from the stage completely at some moments. Dunno why he does that. He is a very good looking guy, hiding from the camera that much is pretty stupid. And not just from the camera, he tends to stay as far back as possible on regular shows. But it's a Sonata tradition in a way... after my first Sonata show, I bragged to people about how I was able to see him because I paid attention from the start, and 90% of the people said:"Dammit, during the whole show, I only got one or two looks at him." That's how perfect in hiding he is

That's certain that many like it that way. I like the idea, but not the setlist. For example they Could have played, after Blank File, Letter To Dana & Kingdom For A Heart and then play some new song (or some speedy one from Silence)' like "No Dream Can Heal A Broken Heart" (which is my fav of that album) and then "Caleb"
Milena - 11.12.2011 at 03:29  
Written by Array on 11.12.2011 at 03:11

That's certain that many like it that way. I like the idea, but not the setlist. For example they Could have played, after Blank File, Letter To Dana & Kingdom For A Heart and then play some new song (or some speedy one from Silence)' like "No Dream Can Heal A Broken Heart" (which is my fav of that album) and then "Caleb"

On the latest tour, they also did "The Dead Skin", which is a bit unconventional for some people, but I think it would work great as a live song and I'd like to hear it I'd take something instead of "As If The World Wasn't Ending"... quite a special track, blues-a-la-Sonata, but it's only really special when you're part of the crowd, not in the DVD.

Of course, everyone's gonna have different opinions of the setlist, but I think the energy flow of the show wasn't captured all that well - I think some of that magic was lost primarily because of the director's fault. It's like he's never watched a Sonata show before. I know shit about pointing cameras, but I absolutely know what stage moments MUST be captured on a Sonata show, and I've only watched them live once and saw around five bootlegs.

Sure, it's hard to catch Tony when he's always buzzing around, but a Sonata fan would know where to look. Also, Elias has three solo guitar albums out and he's played a shitload of solo shows - the dude obviously knows how to place himself in front of a camera and the crowd, and he's photogenic as fuck, but for some reason, the director thought the most amazing part of him to shoot was his elbow. Even during the trickier solos. But then again, most DVDs of medium-sized bands I've seen don't capture the solo spots quite well.
Array - 12.12.2011 at 23:28  
Written by Milena on 11.12.2011 at 03:29

On the latest tour, they also did "The Dead Skin", which is a bit unconventional for some people, but I think it would work great as a live song and I'd like to hear it I'd take something instead of "As If The World Wasn't Ending"... quite a special track, blues-a-la-Sonata, but it's only really special when you're part of the crowd, not in the DVD.

Of course, everyone's gonna have different opinions of the setlist, but I think the energy flow of the show wasn't captured all that well - I think some of that magic was lost primarily because of the director's fault. It's like he's never watched a Sonata show before. I know shit about pointing cameras, but I absolutely know what stage moments MUST be captured on a Sonata show, and I've only watched them live once and saw around five bootlegs.

Sure, it's hard to catch Tony when he's always buzzing around, but a Sonata fan would know where to look. Also, Elias has three solo guitar albums out and he's played a shitload of solo shows - the dude obviously knows how to place himself in front of a camera and the crowd, and he's photogenic as fuck, but for some reason, the director thought the most amazing part of him to shoot was his elbow. Even during the trickier solos. But then again, most DVDs of medium-sized bands I've seen don't capture the solo spots quite well.

Many good points made there. I have to add that the second DVD's "Sonata Arctica Open Air II" tracks are really enjoyable. Perhaps the guitars were more loud there, or I could say that the whole mix of their live sound was more vivid there. Anyway, some really good stuff there..
Milena - 12.12.2011 at 23:31  
Written by Array on 12.12.2011 at 23:28

Many good points made there. I have to add that the second DVD's "Sonata Arctica Open Air II" tracks are really enjoyable. Perhaps the guitars were more loud there, or I could say the whole mix of their live sound was more vivid. Anyway, some really good stuff there..

I know my Sonata Indeed, the second DVD is a nice show... well, the whole point is, the DVD is awesome and enjoyable, but a lot of faults there that shouldn't have been in it.

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