If you know power metal, you’ve heard of RHAPSODY (or RHAPSODY OF FIRE). Known for being one of the pioneers of their genre, the original RHAPSODY seems to have parted ways and many of the original members including Luca Turilli (guitar) and Fabio Lione (vocals) have a new RHAPSODY band and an album that was released earlier this year. That meant it was also time for a tour, which stopped by The Circus in Helsinki on September 26th, 2019. Check out the gallery here.
We were a tad late to arrive and the crowd had already settled in out front of the stage. Although the floor was full, there was a lot of breathing room and none of the extra areas were open, suggesting an unfortunately low attendance (it was a Thursday, but still, a shame). The show opened strong with nothing less than a big, bombastic piece: “Phoenix Rising,” followed by “Dawn of Victory” and one of their new songs, “Zero Gravity.”
The lights immediately stood out as being notably good. Particularly, the band was regularly front-lit, meaning they weren’t lost in a fog – acceptable in gloomy music but not so much in power metal. The lights were also more ambient whenever there were cold colors against the backdrop, creating a sort of shadows-within-the-light effect that reflected the effect of the album art nicely. It overall made for a nice atmosphere for the viewers to see on stage.
They then took a glorious step back into the early days with “Land of Immortals.” Fabio Lione is obviously a skilled and experienced frontman. Not only does he still have a wildly impressive voice – sadly hard to hear due to suboptimal audio quality – but he also wasn’t afraid to interact with the crowd or get low and personal with the front row. Also, I personally would’ve loved to see him free that regal mane of hair for just one song, but alas, no luck there.
The inclusion of the famous Andrea Bocelli song, “Time to Say Goodbye (Con te partirò)” done alone by Lione and Alex Holzwarth (drums) was particularly cool and gave us a nice chance to see just what he could do. The crowd had been a bit disappointingly limp until that point (responsive to prompting from the band, but there could’ve been more fists in the air) but most hands were up and there was definite cheering when the dramatic last note finished. I for one have never heard anyone sing that particular song live before, so it was pretty incredible.
They then kicked things back up into one of their fastest songs of the night, “Holy Thunderforce.” It’s incredible to watch Turilli‘s fingers while he shreds. It’s almost mesmerizing and really shows his skill. Holzwarth was then given a chance to show us what he’s got, for a drum solo (which again had good dramatic spotlights).
They continued with “Knightrider of Doom,” “Lamento Eroico,” and “On the Way to Ainor,” before Patrice Guers on bass was introduced for a pretty killer drum-accompanied bass solo. Lione then told the story of recording a song with Christopher Lee, saying they did it in four different languages, though Lee would’ve wanted to do it in nine. He then dedicated “Unholy Warcry” (I believe it was) to his memory. This led to the end of the show with the very appropriate “Gran Finale” as an outro during which the band came to throw the drumsticks and whatnot into the crowd and take their final bows.
As someone who’s never really gotten into RHAPSODY, this was really a fantastic night. Despite not being familiar with their music, I enjoyed everything I heard and the performance was really strong across the board. I think if I have one complaint, it’s just that the backing orchestrations were overpowering the overall audio. It’s not the worst complaint to have, but when you see Turilli‘s fingers flying, you’d like to hear what they’re doing at the same time. The same went for Lione‘s voice and really, the rest of the band as well. Nevertheless, it was a really great night and hopefully if/when they come back, a few more people will step out on a Thursday night to appreciate what these Italians can do!
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
Written by Bear Wiseman
Photos by Marco Manzi