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progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

concert review

Thunderstone, Symphony X & Stratovarius
- "La Riviera" club Madrid - April - 2003

Sunny day, no clouds in the sky above the capital of Spain omened an exciting night at "La Riviera" in which played Symphony X, Stratovarius and Thunderstone.

Quite soon began the first band called Thunderstone, in fact a piece of the crowd were outside of the club waiting for the next bands. They had little electric illumination because still the light of the day toward act of presence through the windows of the club. Characterized by to carry out a mixture between the two later bands with some references to Dream Theater, Thunderstone was able to have the best sound in the whole night. They doesn't abuse" of volume made that the instruments were distinguished quite well although the sound technician was not centered too much in the setero pan (everything was listened in the center). Focused in their power metal facet they won the crowd respect in few minutes although only a few knew the band. Good work by all the musicians especially the vocals which was without ups and downs during the whole performance. They opted for the musical quality not to make characteristic mistakes (excess of virtuosity) and we can recognize from here that they chose well. A band that if works a little more in the originality of their songs, will receive good reviews in a short time.

As we already comment to them previously in the interview (*see interviews section), almost 70% of the audience had come to see Symphony X and the truth is that it was felt in the atmosphere. Great expectation for their first performance in Madrid that we could appreciate in the comments from the audience.

An "in your face" drum & guitar sound opened their performance with “Evolution”, belonging to its previous studio album “V”. Time in this song to adjust volumes as the sound turned out to be quite heterogeneous. As it is usually habitual in their live shows they played it faster than in the studio version. Without mediating word (they had only 45 minutes of performance) they continued with "Inferno" presenting this way their new album “The Odyssey” to their fans. A quite overwhelming sound penetrates us all with this performance in wich we could appreciate the virtuosity of the members of the band in the scenario without stopping to move and to encourage in spite of not having rested in several days. "Wicked" continued in the same wave and it is in this occasion when I began to see that the people didn't move too much. This kind of situations is usually due to the boredom of theaudience, but it was not the case. Observing by the surroundings of "La Riviera" we could sight the openmouthed fans, more pending of the musicians than of carrying out the typical headbangings characteristic of a Heavy Metal cocnert. Deafened Applauses at the end of the song opened the way to a soft track. "Communion & the Oracle", belonging to their previous album was centered in the symphonic way of the band. This time they showed their ability to in the different kinds of Heavy Metal, Progressive & Symphonic music. People demand an old track of the band. In this occasion they gave us "Out of the Ashes". Michael Romeo (guitar) was able to clarify that he is in the summit of the best guitarists in the world carrying out complicated riffs and solos with an incredible tranquility. Continuing with the surprises, they offered us another song of their last album, "King of Terrors", one of the hardest tracks in the history of the band. It seemed impossible but they got the strange mixture of hardness and melody. Well, listening the vocals we can notice that the voice of Sir Russel Allen begins to fail a little. He was really very tired as we saw him in the previous interview. Wisely he opted to sacrifice his sharper texitures and to carry out a calmed performance in wich we could see comic situations in those he acted of zombie, concretely in the central part of the song. "Smoke & Mirrors" augur that the end of their performance was close. In this occasion we could appreciate the perfect understanding among Romeo, Pinella and Lepond conjugating aggressiveness and virtuosity almost perfectly. The complicated tempos of the song was not able to keep them quiet , leaving openmouthed the entirety of the crowd once again. To finish, a well known track called "Of Sins & Shadows". It is the track that everybody would want to conclude this concert and the truth is that they guessed right. Tremendous & deafening end with a petition of "one more" which they never played beacuse they were playing out of time.

Knowing all the difficulties, as much physical as techniques that they found we will be able to say that Symphony X, is at the moment, so far the best progressive metal band. They only need a better sound (a little kick in the ass to the sound engineer) and they will be able to get 100% of effectiveness. We wait to their return to Spain to play like a well known band.
Having a 20 minutes pause listening some movie soundtracks (strange mixture) to take a refreshment and to take positions, Stratovarius begins with their perfomance.

Opening up with their most famous song belonging to their last album called “Elements pt 1” we could notice the bad sound quality, that it will accompany us during the whole performance. A scenario full of ramps prepared exclusively for the band and a giant screen was the elected atrezzo for this occasion. They played known tracks in which we could listen "The Kiss of Judas", "Speed of Light", "Father Time"... and some more. To refresh up the extensive of their concert they decided to play a medley of old songs belonging to their first albums. "Fright Night", “We are the Future", "Tears of ice" or "We Hold the Key" surprised the few experts of their old albums. It was curious the catatonic still of a big part of the crowd during all those songs. The endless song strings continued: "Elements", "Forever" and other start to make nick to part of the crowd which began to accuse fatigue. Time to "Season of Change" that (without a doubt) was the best song in the night. "Paradise", “Hunting High & Low” and to finish the masterpiece called "Black Diamond".

Summarazing we can say that it was not the best performance of Stratovarius in their commings to Spain. Timo Tolkki broke almost of a dozen of guitar strings during the whole performance, Timo Kotipelto has degrade considerably his vocal quality losing the tune in some parts. Jorg Michael do a good performance during the whole concert but he was unfortunately hardly listened. On the other hand we keep the superb performance of Jens Johansson and Jari Kainulinen, good musicians & good profesionals. A good night of Heavy metal in wich one we hear commentes of the longings of the return to Spain of Symphony X . Special mention to the extreme abuse to the audience by the organization due to the high price of the tickets.

Germán Villén - April 2003


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