RHAPSODY is one of those long-standing bands that were so over the top melodic and unapologetically fantasy-themed in a time when the only bands you were allowed to publicly like were METALLICA, SLIPKNOT, and RAMMSTEIN (or so it felt). I rediscovered their music with my friend a relatively short while ago, and without the peer pressure and teenage insecurities I started to really like their honest and symphonic fantasy metal that I had found before to be too much. Liking it felt so forbidden at first! They have pretty extensive catalog and there are still so many songs I haven’t heard but that’s not a bad thing.
RHAPSODY’s history gets also mildly confusing from 2006 onwards: In 2006, Rhapsody changed its name to RHAPSODY OF FIRE due to trademark issues, then Luca Turilli left the band with some of the members to form LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY, after which Fabio Lione and Alex Holzwarth also left RHAPSODY OF FIRE and joined Turilli and his crew for RHAPSODY’s 20th anniversary farewell tour. After this, Turilli announced that LUCA TURILLI’s Rhapsody was now inactive, though it wasn’t too long before he announced the formation of TURILLI/LIONE RHAPSODY with the same lineup as the farewell show.
RHAPSODY’s 20th anniversary farewell show came to Nummirock in 2017 and it really really upsetting to possibly miss the last option to see Luca Turilli and Fabio Lione performing together in RHAPSODY in Finland. As such, the instant we heard that TURILLI/LIONE RHAPSODY was coming to Helsini, in the wake of their new album “Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution),” we knew we’d be going.
We had a fairly rough time getting to the venue by car and ended up arriving at The Circus during their second song. There was a surprisingly small crowd present so we didn’t have a problem finding good spots on the floor with a clear view of the stage.
While settling down and listening the last part of the classic “Dawn of Victory” and the following single “Zero Gravity” from the new album, I just had to smile and admire the great energy levels and passion given by both Fabio Lione and Luca Turilli. Lione looked really cool with his very dramatic hand expressions and the sporty and mega-active Turilli moved dynamically around the stage while punishing his guitar with his machine gun fingers. This insane shredding went on for most of the show, but the solo guitar’s sound was so silent at points that his sick speed and ease of playing tended to get lost in the backing track and you could only see the fast fingers doing their work without hearing what was happening.
The fourth song, “Land of Immortals,” is my personal favorite from Rhapsody which I was really hoping to see live, so it was nice to hear them do a really good job of it. The song was a festival of speed and skill from both of the Turilli and the other guitarist, Dominique Leurquin, and Lione sang just like on the old record except getting maybe a little bit flat in the highest parts.
Lione is, of course, a skilled singer and his voice is still pretty powerful and clear. When he sings loud or high you can really see the veins in his neck bulging which looks actually kind of cool! He seems to also actually really mean everything he sings and it’s really easy to get behind his words. Although the music is full of fast guitar playing and solos, it doesn’t feel tiring because everything is in its natural place in the composition of the music. They were multiple parts for the guitarists to present their fast solos either alone or in a duet with each other. The backing track brought more thickness in the soundscape in both good and bad: Sometimes in epicness to the music but sometimes it turned the sound a little bit mushy and smothered the individual instruments. I was told that this might be due to the problematic way the sound behaves in The Circus.
The big surprise of the set for me was the classical Andrea Bocelli cover “Con te partirò” that Lione delivered powerfully in an impressive opera style. In another RHAPSODY classic, “Holy Thunderforce,” which is (in my opinion) one of the most over-the-top and restless melodic metal pieces ever, Lione phrased and played with his voice by using a more raspy sound in some parts. The song was one of the high points of the show with its unchained electricity. Then it was time for a drum solo; they played a choir from the tape during this solo that made the whole thing really weird but fun and somewhat confusing. The drums also sounded sometimes like trash cans, which only added to overall weirdness. Its was over quickly enough though and left me both baffled and amused.
“Knightrider of Doom” was one of those RHAPSODY songs I had somehow missed despite its fame. It had a great charging feeling and nice harmonies, making it well suited for a live song. Near the end of the set we even got a short bass solo, with lighting that made bassist Patrice Guers look like a zombie Sting. There was also a beautiful tribute to the great Christopher Lee as the band dedicated one song to him. Though the gig was epic and the band was really into it, the Thursday crowd seemed often pretty tired and lazy which was annoying at times because the show was really great. Despite this passive audience, Lione proceeded to rile people up again and again. Sometimes his speeches seemed to confuse the audience, and at one point he even had a bit of funny banter in Italian with a crowd member in the front row.
It was great to watch the band blasting through the gig with awesome energy and a relaxed attitude. They were confident in their art and it showed. The metal legends put on an epic show and Fabio and Turilli seemed like 20-years-olds in their enthusiastic and intense performance.
Perhaps the nicest treat was that, after the gig, Lione came to hang out and talk with the crowd for a while. I had read from a SONATA ARCTICAbiography that when they were touring with RHAPSODY and STRATOVARIUS, in a strong contrast to other singers’ warm up routines, Fabio Lione used to just smoke cigarettes behind the speakers during the intro tape and maybe screech once and just jump right onto the stage from there. So I eagerly asked him about his vocal warm-up routine, but just when he was about to answer, he was informed that he should return the backstage. What a bummer!
Article by Simo Kuusterä
Photos by Laureline Tilkin
1. Phoenix Rising
2. Dawn of Victory
3. Zero Gravity
4. Land of Immortals
5. The Wizard’s Last Rhymes
6. Reign of Terror
7. Time to Say Goodbye (Con te partirò) [Andrea Bocelli cover]
8. Holy Thunderforce
9. Drum Solo
10. Knightrider of Doom
11. Lamento Eroico
12. On the Way to Ainor
13. Bass Solo
14. Riding the Winds of Eternity
15. Arcanum (Da Vinci’s Enigma)
16. Unholy Warcry
Outro: Gran Finale