Tonight involved plenty of options for music fans including the Gun/Dan Reed Network/FM triple bill gig, but I opted instead for Sonata Arctica. This gig also three bands on the bill with support from Edge of Paradise and Temple Balls.
First up was Temple Balls – an odd name for a band but that’s not important. What is important is that they sound great. They’re a rock band from Finland, and have two albums out. It’s good fun rock music – think H.E.A.T or Reckless love, and is a great start to the night. They have a good length set for an opening act (40 minutes) and make the most of it putting in a great performance from start to finish.
Next up was Los Angeles based band Edge of Paradise. To be honest they were more of a draw for me than Sonata Arctica. It’s two years since they first came to Europe to play the FemMe festival in Eindhoven, and as part of the tour with Sonata Arctica they’re playing London for the first time. Their new album, “Universe” was released a month ago so it’s no surprise to hear most of the set tonight is made up of songs from that album. It’s a great album so I’m glad to hear the new songs performed live. On this tour they’ve got a stand-in bassist, Mike Bear but watching and listening tonight you’d assume he’d been with the band for years as he fits in so well. The whole band is in great form tonight, with Margarita Monet sounding great on vocals. Before the final song she put guitarist Dave Bates on the spot by announcing that he’s picked up a new custom guitar from Grainger guitars that day and should play it for the final song. He carefully attached a strap and showed it off – a beautiful guitar that looked and sounded great. A fantastic set from Edge of Paradise.
Finally it was time for Sonata Arctica. They too have a new album out “Talviyö” (Winter night), which was released in September and we get four songs from the album in tonight’s set. Their many years of touring show and it’s a very polished performance – this is a band that’s played so many shows it’s second nature to them. It’s a very good performance and the songs do sound good including the new material, but it just felt slightly unexciting. The problem is they don’t stand out from many of the other bands in the genre, so while they’re very good they just arent different enough to have their own distinctive sound and as a result it just feels like you’ve heard it all before. It’s an enjoyable set but I can’t help think that this is a band that’s reached it’s level and is unlikely to grow it’s fanbase enough to play much larger venues.
Overall this was a great night. Edge of Paradise were superb, Temple balls also were a great live band, and Sonata Arctica ended the night off well.