6.10.2022 Sonata Arctica @ Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki


It requires courage for such a high-profile band as SONATA ARCTICA to walk the “acoustic album” path at this stage of their career; as a matter of fact, they have released two acoustic album in a short period of time –Acoustic Adventures vol. 1in late January 2022, followed by Acoustic Adventures vol. 2 in late September this year. As risky as it can be, also considering the specific features of the subgenre they play, choosing the word “adventures” gives some useful hints to the listener: they have been experimenting with their own music, as they decided to re-arrange some of their classic tunes in an unexpected way. Needless to say, we were quite to see them in action at a proper acoustic show! This event was held on October 6th, 2022, at Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki.

The gig started perfectly on time, as scheduled, with all of the band members except the keyboard player sitting on stools. Frontman Tony Kakko was at the center of the stage and welcomed the audience as usual. The atmosphere was warm and cozy, largely thanks to dim lights that paired perfectly with the soft and lullaby-like vibe of the opening song; “The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me” is also the first song on “Acoustic Adventures vol. 1,” so it’s no wonder they chose it as an opener. It is worth mentioning that the drummer was on percussion, providing an interesting twist to the whole thing. We were already clapping in time, as kindly asked by the frontman, and “My Land” as a second tune took us off guard – it is likely to be considered to be a classic in their discography, and this acoustic live version showed some unexpected features. The typical power metal vibe was partially replaced by a more melancholic feeling that gave a completely new flavor to the song.

Many people in the audience were waving hands while the band was playing “I Have a Right”; the vocal line in this tune is always so powerful to witness on a live concert, but this time it turned out even more intense thanks to the acoustic setting. In “Tonight I Dance Alone,” drummer Tommy Portimo switched to “proper” drums and there was a nice ‘80s vibe. We started noticing that there were people of all ages attending the concert; we feel like SONATA ARCTICA are part of the local culture, no matter what, and an acoustic show gave us the chance to see them in a different, closer, and more intimate light.

Timeless ballad “Letter to Dana” was welcomed by the attendees with a big applause and top-notch backing vocals provided by the bassist and guitarist made it even more unique. It must be said that, as usual, the band members – and especially the frontman – did not miss the chance to interact with the audience in a spontaneous and friendly way, making us feel like we were at some sort of a private event.

Many classics from their early years were in the setlist, such as “Broken” and “Tallulah” among the others, with many people in the audience singing and standing, even if we all were supposed to stay seated. Guitarist Elias Viljanen took up a banjo and drummer Tommy Portimo went back on percussion to play “A Little less Understanding,” which turned out quite different if compared to the standard version, as there was a strong “country” vibe, paired with a ‘70’s prog feel that made everything quite interesting. It almost felt like the acoustic setting managed to reveal a previously hidden side of the band’s trademark sound, and even if we have been seeing them play live quite a few times before, it totally felt like the first time.

If we had to choose just one song to be the highlight of the evening, we would probably choose “Full Moon,” mainly because of its catchy chorus and the way the audience reacted to it – everyone was singing along with Tony Kakko, someone in the front row was dancing, and we felt a deep, joyful, positive connection with the people on stage as never before.

They left the stage after “Wolf & Raven,” but we clearly did not have enough. Tony and keyboard player Henrik Klingenberg came back and played a very emotional version of “Shamandalie” that we will hardly forget anytime soon. The concert was coming to an end, so the other band members gathered on stage and entertained us with two more songs, “Flag in the Ground” and “Don’t Say a Word.” Tony’s jokes while announcing the songs were always effective and well-received by the audience. His speech about how grateful they are for our support in keeping live music alive was touching, and as usual, they closed the show with “Vodka,” the call-and-response ritual included, which always sounds like Finnish drinking culture in a nutshell.

We can surely say that this acoustic concert was fun, intense, quite emotional, and it was great to see how such an important band is still able to keep and renew its relationship with the audience, both with music and attitude.

Written by Licia Mapelli
Photo by Mirko Luparelli


  1. The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me
  2. My Land
  3. I have a Right
  4. Tonight I Dance Alone
  5. Letter to Dana
  6. Broken
  7. Tallulah
  8. As if the World wasn’t Ending
  9. A Little less Understanding
  10. For the Sake of Revenge
  11. Half a Marathon Man
  12. On the Faultline
  13. Victoria’s Secret
  14. Full Moon
  15. Wolf & Raven
  16. Shamandalie
  17. Flag in the Ground
  18. Don’t Say a Word
  19. Vodka