Rockharz - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

”This is the only festival for Stratovarius this year, and seeing you, we are really happy to be here!”
- Timo Kotipelto (vocals)

Yes, this was the only festival show for Stratovarius, and as I have been quite impressed with the shows I’ve seen of theirs recently, I was only too happy to see what they might have in store for us this day.

Sadly, the first two things I noticed were both putting me off the mood though. The first, and a rather simple one, was that our dear Mr. Jörg Michael behind the drums and Mr. Lauri Porra behind the bass wore some seriously hideous sunglasses. They should really get them off, in quite a hurry!
The second, and one a bit more serious than the other, was that while I was standing at the side of the stage belonging to the guitarist, Mr. Matias Kupiainen, I was completely unable to hear the intricate keyboard work of Mr. Jens Johansson which of course was bad as they play such a mayor part in the sound of the band.
The former thing was corrected in the second song, or at least for Michael, Porra had to have some more time to think about it; the latter was improved over time, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was corrected, sadly.
Kupiainen and Porra, as well as Michael, were also the ones most interesting to see perform. Even though Kupiainen and Porra weren’t as sharp as they’ve been the last couple of times I’ve seen them, they were still really good, and Michael had a lot of fun behind his kit, playing around with his sticks.
Kotipelto and Johansson were another affair altogether; while hitting it vocally and performing acceptably whilst singing, Kotipelto would often leave the stage the stage during solos and other instrumental parts, which I found slightly annoying actually. Johansson on the other hand didn’t really do anything at all except for playing, making me think that this part could just as easily have been programmed from home, saving him the trip…

Looking at the other side of the fence, I would say that this was the first concert of the festival which was really beginning to pull a crowd, and even though people seemed a bit hesitant at first, they were only too happy to put their arms in the air and sing along to the songs when asked to do so.
And god knows there were enough songs to sing along to; even though there are large amounts of the Stratovarius discography of which I am not familiar, I still picked up on many of their live-classics like Paradise and Hunting High And Low. Kotipelto also had comments about some of the songs, like when he ironically introduced the songs Winter Skies by saying; ”Since it’s so fucking cold today, we’re gonna play you a song about winter”, and sticking to the sky theme of that one, they then moved directly into Under Flaming Skies from Elysium.
The ending track, Black Diamond, was not surprisingly also a very popular choice.

For me, this concert didn’t amount to anything more than an ok on a given scale though. The spark was lacking, there were many songs which didn’t do it for me, and the only thing pulling it up was the ok performances of Kupiainen, Porra and Michael. I can only hope for better luck next time, as I know they have it in them to do really good things.

Setlist (incomplete):

The Kiss Of Judas
Winter Skies
Under Flaming Skies
Darkest Hours
Speed Of Light
Hunting High And Low
Black Diamond

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