Live streaming is the way to go during the quarantine and with Greybeard Management partnering up with SemiLive streams, SONATA ARCTICA jumped on board and arranged two shows entitled Acoustic Adventures on May 29th and 30th, 2020. Having managed to miss out on all of their acoustic sets before now, this was the time to check it out!
The stream took place on May 30th, 2020, though we watched it a bit later as we had already dedicated that night to another stream. Fortunately, streams have a bit of leeway so we were able to catch the first few songs that we missed later on. The stream started not-quite 4½ minutes beforehand and when things began, SemiLive‘s host greeted the crowd and shared the stream chat, as well as their community hashtag. The show opened, interestingly, with “The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me,” a surprising song that is not often heard. “Life,” which followed, also felt really good in acoustic form, even with its silly chorus lyrics, which maybe even felt a little bit less silly in this context.
Vocalist Tony Kakko greeted the crowd and explained that the first stream had been done in the morning (likely to accommodate the western hemisphere), while the 30th was filmed at sunset in a different – and apparently very warm – location, in a windowed room next to the water. It was a beautiful setting and created an absolute gorgeous ambience throughout the stream.
Henrik Klingenberg seemed to really be having fun throughout the entire stream, playing a lot of cool and whimsical piano parts that really stood out from the beginning, but struck us during “My Land” in particular. “Tonight I Dance Alone” was another surprising inclusion that I think I’ve personally never heard live before, and while 2012’s “Stones Grow Her Name” never left much of an impact, acoustically the song worked well. “I Have a Right” is a song that Musicalypse as a (near) whole collectively dislike and would love to see removed from their sets but admittedly, as a slower acoustic song, it makes more sense and brought a lot of its original meaning and power back.
Kakko was fun to listen to as he spoke to the on-screen crowd. Having recently gotten a taste of what an absolutely delightfully goofy person he is, it seemed like a bit more of this came as he hoped all the people behind the screen were doing well and having a good time, making a little bit of fun small talk, occasionally joined in by Klingenberg. He seemed a bit unsure of what he was talking about from time to time, but it was part of his charm. “Half a Marathon Man” was not even a song title we recognized, having not been much into “Pariah’s Child” (2013). With a new perspective, it felt fun and perhaps we’ll have to revisit the album.
The stream itself was, as mentioned, gorgeously done with beautiful cuts and, during soft instrumental parts, for example, would focus more on the sunset and backdrop. It was a perfect setting for such an event. Keeping with the softer songs, “On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)” was a unique choice and “As if the World Wasn’t Ending” translated excellently to acoustic form – another unexpected track that was a pleasant surprise to hear.
When it comes to “Talullah,” Finland tends to get a little too into the cheese and create an eye-roll reaction, yet somehow we had to appreciate the acoustic guitar and the laid-back dadcore groove of this classic ballad. Right when it was about to get too cheesy, Kakko started to get a little weird in his singing and made us laugh. Afterwards, he told a story about being inspired by a comet that had been in the sky for a while, as a reference to the “I remember shooting stars part of the song.” Then Elias Viljanen brought out a banjo for a surprising good rendition of “A Little Less Understanding” that managed to work a lot better than the album version.
Klingenberg teased Kakko for rambling his thank yous towards the end and Kakko announced “Blue Toyota Corolla” aka “Paid in Full,” which was maybe not as exciting as it should have been as an acoustic version, as a high-energy song, with extra fun bits by Klingenberg. They wrapped up the set with “Victoria’s Secret,” played by Kakko and Viljanen alone and was preceded by thanks and best wishes, hoping everyone would have a nice, warm summer. The show ended with Kakko dramatically saying, “Good night. I love you,” and making a kiss towards the camera (which we confess made us laugh uproariously, but in a good way).
Of the two SemiLive streams we’ve seen recently (the other being LOST SOCIETY‘s massive blowout at Kaapelitehdas), they’ve both been some of the nicest streams quality-wise that we’ve seen yet, covering opposite sides of the spectrum. As energetic, bombastic, and fierce as LOST SOCIETY‘s stream was, SONATA ARCTICA‘s managed to be equally ambient, relaxed, and beautiful. While the songs selections were far from what we may have wanted to hear, nearly every song had translated really nicely into acoustic format and the extra flare added by Klingenberg and, at times, Viljanen and drummer Tommy Portimo, made for something special. Ultimately, this was one of the best performances I’ve seen from the band in a while!
1. The Rest of the Sun Belongs to Me
3. My Land
4. Tonight I Dance Alone
5. Half a Marathon Man
6. On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)
7. As if the World Wasn’t Ending
8. A Little Less Understanding
9. Paid in Full
10. Victoria’s Secret
Written by Bear Wiseman