STRATOVARIUS with special guests SYMPHONY X

Elements Tour 2003

29 March 2003
Tilburg, The Netherlands

As openers THUNDERSTONE were playing I was having my interview with Jens, so I cannot tell you anything about their show; sorry dudes...

Finally I got to see one of my favourite progmetal bands, SYMPHONY-X. They were on my list for a few years, but in the end if I wanted to go to a gig of them something bad always happened....I was sorry to hear that these guys omly got 45 minutes to do their thing, but they stood their ground and proved to the Dutch audience that they belong to the top in prog metal music. Russell screamed his lungs out and escpecially during the killertracks "Inferno" and "King Of Terrors"(both from the last album "The Odessey)his voice was phenomenal. They also performed a few older songs like "Smoke And Mirrors", from the album "Twilight In Olympus"(1998) and the stunning "Communion And The Oracle" from "The New Mythology Suite"(2000). Especially in these two songs it was guitarplayer Michael Romeo who "threw" some amazing guitarsolos into the public. Highlight of the set was the mystic "Accolade 2", where Russell brought gooseflesh to my skin again. Although Symphony-X convinced me musically for 100%; their "show" needs a bit more livelihood; come on guys, just banging your heads for 45 minutes doesn't do the trick anymore. But I think that when they will headline a tour this will change for the best..

Then it is time for "our" Finnish rockers, who(according to Jens) will treat us to a two hour heavy and fast performance. Ofcourse as to be expected STRATOVARIUS kick off with "Eagleheart" and lots of fireworks and dazzling and confusing lights. Instantly after this first song I can tell that this band has grown a lot, and as they continue with "Find Your Own Voice" and all time favourite "Kiss Of Judas", the crowd goes wild and Timo is overwhelmed by this enthousiasm. The biggest surprise of this evening is the medley, which consists of songs from the first four albums; some really good old Strato-stuff is played here. The new album is one of my favourites and therefore I really like "Soul Of A Vagabond", with Timo singing very high, and the superb instrumental "Stratofortress", with singing, dancing and drinking elks. The titletrack "Elements" is the highlight of the evening and shows that these guys know their stuff. The lightshow and pictures on the large videowall used during this song match the music and the atmosphere perfectly.

Although Timo Tolkki and Jens look tired they still play their ass off and make this gig one of the best Stratogigs I have ever seen. The band plays a lot of "oldies", like "Father Time", "Will The Sun Rise?", "Season Of Change" all from the "Episode"-album(1996), "Destiny", which ends in the last part of "Fantasia" and last but not least "Forever" and ofcourse the singalongsong "Hunting High And Low". Almost a perfect evening, but I have to say that the lightshow was a bit overdone sometimes(I was blind for a few seconds!)and the volume could be turned down a bit; thank God for my excellent earplugs!! The encores were a bit odd; "Paradise", "Black Diamond" and "A Drop In The Ocean", which was played from a tape, while the band had already left the stages and hit the showers; a strange and not really original ending...

Gig report: Martien Koolen

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