Let me tell you a story about a miracle. At least, that’s how it felt back in November when APOCALYPTICA announced a Spanish tour with six dates, including Asturias for the first time ever. Every music lover around —metalhead or not— knows this does not happen everyday, so, as expected, the tickets started flying.
The place chosen to make it happen was the theater inside the old Laboral University of Gijón, considered the biggest building of Spain and a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest. Now that you get the picture of how big this historical place is, I can tell you in advance that we thought it was going to fall down during the show. It trembled.
APOCALYPTICA was probably the first Finnish band I’ve ever heard of, precisely thanks to their ability to reinvent Metallica‘s hits. You can imagine how many memories this concert was going to bring back, having them here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their “Plays Metallica By Four Cellos“ release. When entering the theater, completely full, the same feeling could be easily seen in dozens of faces. This moment had been long awaited.
9:10 PM and the “real Metallica” music in the background stopped, the lights went out, the excitement came in. It was time for the Sandman to enter and takes us all off to never-never land, as the four horsemen of cello metal took the stage: Paavo Lötjönen with a big smile, Eicca Toppinen full of energy and Perttu Kivilaakso in the shiniest shirt we’ve seen in a while; not the only thing that shined that night. Also, one of the special highlights of this tour is the presence of original member Antero Manninen on stage. In fact, Antero is very special himself… but we’ll talk about that later.
After “Enter Sandman” and making us all sing along with “Master Of Puppets“, the charismatic Eicca made his first speech and introduced “Harvester of Sorrow“. Playing these songs also brings them lots of memories to share with us and it was noticeable in their attitude. From the first notes, they were singing along and seemed to enjoy performing as much as we did watching them. There was a mutual good vibe inside the theater, between APOCALYPTICA and the crowd, that kept growing as the setlist progressed with songs like “The Unforgiven” or “Wherever I May Roam“. From the right side of the stage, Paavo seemed specially interested in motivating this positive energy, constantly interacting with the audience and showing gratitude.
And this was only the “formal” part of the show, which ended with “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)“. Little did we know what was coming in the second half!
After the break, the staging had changed a bit, the lightning became more intense and we entered a whole new experience. “Fade To Black” introduced us gently into that different atmosphere, and before we realized, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” had turned the concert upside down. Mikko Sirén was in the house with his huge drumkit. Time to headbang and get up from the seat!
Perttu became the master of ceremonies of this part of the show. He actually managed to pronounce “Gijón” really well, but after a few attempts and mixes with the Asturian form, he ended up renaming the city to something “more Finnish”. A hilarious moment we will remember fondly. Then, he presented the band and they show went on with “Orion” and the track from “Ride The Lightning” that not even Metallica dares to play,”Escape”.
Truth is these guys not only make the spectacle entertaining with their impressive skills, but also with the unique combination of their personalities on stage. Antero plays a big role, staying quietly with his sunglasses on, behaving like a sir while the others tease him. He just keeps it cool. Around here, we even baptized him as “Mr. St. God”. He is there holding his mighty cello, you will notice him when something starts burning… and then he’ll leave us speechless. It literally happened during “Battery“.
It was curious to turn around and see how such an elegant venue had gone totally wild during “Seek And Destroy“. The whole audience standing up, singing, horns in the air, hair flying, Perttu playing AC/DC‘s “Thunderstruck”, claps and cheers everywhere… this couldn’t end now. They had barely stepped off the stage when the crowd chanting began, in the Asturian way: not asking for one, but for three songs more.
And we got a pair of gems in return: The breathtaking “Nothing Else Matters” caused a great standing ovation, before the real farewell came with “One“, which left us all wearing a smile. APOCALYPTICA had shown us why —as they had mentioned— first times are always special.
A few hours later, it saddened me to find out that the band had problems with their bus while trying to leave Gijón. We probably prayed too much for them to stay! Jokes aside, I hope their next visit is more fortunate.
And if at any time of their endless tour APOCALYPTICA comes near you, do not hesitate to go! Let them show you the miracle of cello metal.
– Enter Sandman
– Master Of Puppets
– Harvester Of Sorrow
– The Unforgiven
– Sad But True
– Creeping Death
– Wherever I May Roam
– Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
– Fade To Black
– For Whom The Bell Tolls
– Fight Fire With Fire
– Until It Sleeps
– Seek And Destroy
– Nothing Else Matters