By Jason Wellwood
I’m not a big fan of live albums because they are usually poorly done or the band just doesn’t live up to the hype when you see them documented this way. So, when I heard Avantasia, a project I really enjoy, was releasing a live album, I was a little hesitant. I knew the tour had happened but in the three years since most of the details had slipped my mind. Without checking out any of the liner notes, I popped in the first DVD of the two DVD/two CD set and about two seconds in I realized that this part of the show had been shot at Wacken Open Air and I immediately relaxed. Every Wacken live show I have seen has been beautifully captured and this was no exception. The show does jump back and forth between Wacken and the Masters of Rock festival in the Czech Republic, but neither the quality of the recording nor the quality of the performances suffer at all.
The first surprise was Jorn Lande and his ridiculous moustache stepping up to sing right alongside Tobias Sammet for ‘The Scarecrow’. Jorn’s smooth voice is a definite compliment to Tobias’ who, live, seems to be pushing the limits of his vocals giving him a much rougher sound. The next surprise was Andre Matos of Symfonia (ex-Angra) coming out, and at this point I grabbed the liner notes. The cast here is incredible, a definite ‘who’s who’ of European power metal and a feat of scheduling to get them all together for the tour, I’m sure! Overall, the live show is just amazing, musically, vocally, visually, the ensemble really pull it off. Hearing 80,000 fans singing along with Avantasia is a little awe inspiring.
Heading to disc two, the requisite video clips are included (Lost in Space, Carry Me Over and Dying for an Angel which was weird as the newer albums were released AFTER this live show) as well as a documentary. The film contains plenty of insight from Tobias himself not only about the tour, but about Avantasia from beginning to current status and the goofy footage of Amanda Somerville and Jorn Lande make the film well worth watching in itself!
I have only one real complaint about the set and that is when Tobias is introducing the band at the end of the show it just takes too long and starts to drag. It’s minor enough not to spoil the show, but long enough to be memorably annoying. However, the set is highly entertaining all around and a great way to spend a few hours in front of the TV and in the car!