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London, Astoria, 11 December 2007

When Apocalyptica first appeared on the music scene with the release of "Plays Metallica By Four Cellos" back in 1996, I was one of the few people who were not willing to support the Finish outfit in their massively daring musical journey. Many things have changed since that very day, one of which being my appreciation towards them and that is the reason why I found myself heading towards the London Astoria on the night of the 11th of December 2007.

Having gone through very tight security, mainly due to the fact that the gig was sold out and there were rumours of people trying to access the venue via invalid tickets, I managed to quickly position myself at the very center of the venue's balcony, a few minutes before the first opening act, namely Stone Gods, hit the stage.

Now, as far as musical orientation is concerned, I can safely say that this is the most confused band that I ever encountered in my many years as a fan of this music, but things started to make much more sense the moment I found out that, with the exception of bass player Toby Macfarlaine, all remaining members have worked together in the past under the well-known commercial moniker The Darkness.

Bearing clear influences from the music of AC/DC and with many short intervals of Thrash Metal madness, fuelled by the appreciation of the band's members towards Metallica & Megadeth, Richie Edwards (vocals/guitars) and Co won the attention of the predominantly young crowd in no time and left the stage half an hour later having won a huge round of applause.

Much as I was intrigued by what I encountered during the Stone Gods' performance, I found the mellow Gothy approach of the German outfit Lacrimas Profundere slightly more to my liking.

Not only did these six Germans manage to come across as a tighter outfit in comparison to the Stone Gods, but their classic approach to Goth Metal (see Sisters Of Mercy) helped me and the young crowd of Apocalyptica relate more easily. Even though the band's main attraction was without any doubt Rob Vitacca's deep vocals, Lacrimas Profundere worked more as a unit rather than as individuals on stage, presenting the unexpected crowd with material spanning through their fourteen year long career and raising the temperature in the venue enough so as to 'force' Pertuu Kivilaakso to perform the majority of the Apocalyptica set topless.

Now, I have been to quite a few gigs in my life, yet still I have to admit that Apocalyptica's set and overall stage presentation was unique and extremely impressive in many different ways.

Any doubts I had as to whether cellos would manage to compensate for the absence of guitars and bass were quashed the moment the four performers stepped on the stage of the London Astoria, soon followed by Mikko Sirén - one of the most energetic and damn impressive young drummers that I have seen in a live environment.

The recent release of the band's latest opus "Worlds Collide" meant that the members of Apocalyptica were going to dedicate a large part of their set to the support of this album, which they did, by performing instrumentally the vocal compositions "I'm Not Jesus", "S.O.S (Anything But Love)" and "Helden" (the German version of David Bowie's classic opus); yet those of us who were really looking forward to Cello versions of classic Metallica material were also rewarded by killer versions of "Enter Sandman", "Harvester Of Sorrow" and "One" from the band's previous releases.

The sound was top quality, the light effects were absolutely amazing and the gathered crowd was amongst the loudest and most receptive that I have seen on English soil. This unique atmosphere forced Apocalyptica to visit the stage twice after their one hour and twenty minute set was over, often thanking the crowd and generously giving smiles and bows in return.

The atmosphere that was created by both the fans and the members of Apocalyptica on the night of the 11th of December was so electrified that I felt goose bumps many times throughout the show and I can assure you that not many bands manage to have such a strong effect on me.

If you are still indecisive as to whether you should invest in this unique band, then I suggest that you visit one of their shows - as for me: I am already looking forward to the band's next show in London.

Review by John Stefanis

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