“Never change a winning team” must be the motto of STRATOVARIUS singer Timo Kotipelto and the legendary guitar player Jani Liimatainen, as they invited digital accordionist Netta Skog to their streaming concert named “Blackoustic Harmonies” on 2 May 2020 at Möysän Musaklubi in Lahti.
With the emotional “Sleep Well,” the trio opened a somewhat strangely intimate virtual evening of great rock hits. They played a variety of songs all over their own history, as well as a brief hard and classic rock 101, which they initiated with the RAINBOW cover “I Surrender.” The song was a nice continuation to the more fragile opening track and thus set a great atmosphere for the night.
The acoustic version of “Black Diamond” was a powerful rendition of one of STRATOVARIUS‘ greatest hits and surely one of my personal highlights. I have seen Kotipelto & Liimatainen a couple of times now and every time they play “Out in the Field,” originally by Gary Moore, they manage to surprise me over and over again with a beautiful performance of the classic.
Followed by the impressive and more progressive “Season of Change,” the trio managed to surprise us with perfect execution of the cover, even though they claimed they only had time to practice right before the show. Followed by the dynamic “Shine in the Dark” and the emotional “A Million Light Years Away,” the band played a cover of one of my all-time favorite songs “Alone” by HEART, a complete surprise, as I have seen their shows a couple of times, but never had the chance to see a rendition of this song. The arrangement was beautiful and managed to really convince me. In every Blackoustic evening, there is also some room for a CAIN’S OFFERING cover, usually “I Will Build You a Rome,” which the trio also played with great conviction.
Before starting “Unbreakable,” the trio apologized to Matias Kupiainen (the original composer of the song) for the brand new arrangement they made. A bouncy version of the song made it a very dynamic acoustic cover and really fun to listen to. This was followed by Netta Skog‘s future opening dance on her hypothetical wedding (as requested by her to Kotipelto and Liimatainen) “Forever,” which most likely moved many viewers alike across the globe.
Timo Kotipelto spoke to the virtual audience and said the next song was composed by the best singer metal has ever known, Ronnie James Dio, and thus played an outstanding homage to the late singer with “Holy Diver.” The focus on rock classics continued with a mighty version of DEEP PURPLE‘s hit “Perfect Strangers,” a song that I would have never thought could work in an acoustic concert, but the trio managed to adapt it perfectly to their own hand. The virtual audience was spread around the globe, so perhaps some may not know the Finnish folk song “Karjalan Kunnailla,” but no one can deny how beautiful the melancholic song sounded.
Kotipelto, Liimatainen, and Skog ended with the STRATOVARIUS classic “Hunting High and Low,” which had me singing along with them from start to finish. Even though the set was done, the band took the time for one last item on their list: a fan Q&A. After many possible suitors were suggested for Netta and a lot of questions were answered, the band said their goodbyes and we were left with huge smiles on our faces.
- Sleep Well (Kotipelto cover)
- I Surrender (Rainbow cover)
- Black Diamond (Stratovarius cover)
- Out in the Fields (Gary Moore cover)
- Season of Change (Stratovarius cover)
- Shine in the Dark (Stratovarius cover)
- A Million Light Years Away (Stratovarius cover)
- Alone (Heart cover)
- I Will Build You a Rome (Cain’s Offering cover)
- Unbreakable (Stratovarius cover)
- Forever (Stratovarius cover)
- Holy Diver (Dio cover)
- Perfect Strangers (Deep Purple cover)
- Karjalan Kunnailla (Finnish Folk Song)
- Hunting High and Low (Stratovarius cover)
- QA section