Live Review: Sonata Arctica and Leaves’ Eyes at The Rave

Written by Brett Kihlmire

Location: The Rave Bar – Milwaukee, WI, USA

What do you do when you find out that two of your favorite bands are coming to town and it’s on a Monday night? You prepare yourself for a really awful next day at work and rock the night away, that’s what.

Having seen Sonata Arctica once before but never Leaves’ Eyes, I was torn on going to the show at first. I wasn’t yet convinced by new Leaves’ singer, Elina Siirala, after a lukewarm debut extended play, but a press pass was enough to convince me go out.

Of course, the night started out rough when the venue couldn’t find my name on the guest list, as is tradition with the Rave. Finally, after figuring out that my photographer’s name was listed for some reason, the pass was in my hand and it was onto the show.

Having missed all but two songs of their set, I can’t say much about Omnium Gathterum’s show other than the few minutes I witnessed them on stage was pure metal magic. These guys wowed the audience packed into the Rave Bar with some seriously shreddy guitar work and stage presence.

Following Omnium Gathterum’s performance and personally thanking them for an excellent show I came across some familiar faces from the local metal scene – Lords of the Trident. More than happy to see “the most metal band on earth” I tucked myself into crowd alongside Fang Von Wrathestein and former guitarist Killius Maximus and eagerly awaited Leaves’ Eyes.

When the drummer stepped up behind the kit the crowd exploded with excitement. The volume only raised when Alexander Krull snarled out to the crowd with his horns in the air. With the band assemble and Elina Siirala sounding as lovely as she looks, the band rocked out numerous tunes from their discography, but focused primarily on 2015’s King of Kings as well as their latest single ‘Fires in the North.’

Though I’m a big fan of Leaves’ Eyes, I didn’t think the band would be all that well received in the USA, but I was dead wrong. The crowd was maybe 50 people at max, but not one of them had their arms lowered. Horns were in the air, hands were clapping at Krull’s command and voices were singing proudly to Siirala and Krull’s every word. It was simply majestic to see so much passion in that room.

I’ll be honest with the fact that I went into this show not entirely sold on the new voice of Leaves’ Eyes, but after seeing the pure enjoyment and extreme talent brimming within Siirala I’m sold. She is more than a suitable successor to our beloved Liv Kristine. In many ways, Siirala brings a whole new level of power to this band. Of course, I can’t give Siirala all of the credit for this fantastic performance. Alexander Krull clad in Viking armor similar to that of the King of Kings album art definitely burned an image in my mind. All in all, if you get the chance to see Leaves’ Eyes live take the chance. You will not regret the decision!

Having nearly lost my voice and soaked my clothes with sweat after the electric performance by Leaves Eyes I treated myself to a beer and took up a nice spot off to the side of the stage. From there I watched Sonata Arctica put on an even better show than when they tore up the Eagles Ballroom with Nightwish and Delain. However, to say Sonata Arctica put on a good show isn’t doing them justice. They put on an incredible show full of showmanship and passion. At no point did vocalist Tony Kakko slowdown. The man was on fire all night, even through three encore tunes, but Kakko wasn’t the only one giving an outstanding performance. The entire band worked with the crowd quite well, especially keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg who left the stage and headed into the crowd, keytar in hand.

All in all, this was easily the best show I’ve seen all year and I saw Nightwish. All three bands came to rock and they rocked hard. The only unfortunate parts were when I missed my chance to take a photo with Elina Siirala, my photographer couldn’t get a decent photo to save his life due to bad lighting and the combination of close quarters and no photo pit, and that my beer cost me a whopping $10. Beyond that, this show was well worth the $25 ticket and the additional $50 I dropped on merch.

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