Sonata Arctica live at the Garage, London

The long queue snaking its way down the pavement away from the Garage should have been an indicator for how successful this night of energetic power metal was going to be.

London based Neonfly were first to kick off proceedings at the Garage. The quintet powered through their short set with surging riffs and heavy bass lines, there may not have been anything ground breaking about these guys but they still did the British metal scene proud; operating like a well-oiled machine and delivering a solid set of catchy metal songs that drew a decent sized crowd and got the audience jumping about and psyched for the rest of the night to come.

Next up; another London based band Pythia, paying homage to symphonic metal with a sound similar to early Nightwish. They came on stage dressed in impressive battle armour and looked like they meant business. Unfortunately I’m possibly going to be controversial here and admit that I didn’t like this band much. In my mind front-woman Emily’s voice didn’t have the range or strength to really soar above the frenetic, powerful music the rest of the band was creating. It’s not that it isn’t a good voice, but in places she seemed to struggle to capture the stage and drive the music forward. That being said, I liked the bands energetic, guitar driven sound with classical and gothic influence giving them a slightly unique edge.

By the time Finnish legends Sonata Arctica came on stage the garage was heaving and the temperature in the venue was starting to feel like a Finnish sauna! However this didn’t seem to perturb either the band or audience. As soon as the intro for the opening song ‘Only the broken hearts (make you beautiful)’ started, the audience were singing the chorus back – this level of enthusiasm from the audience was matched and raised for the rest of the set.

Sonata’s set was weighted towards their newer material, especially songs from their latest album ‘Stones grow her name’. I particularly liked ‘I have the right’, because of its incredibly infectious chorus and melody. While the newer stuff was well received by the audience the classic back catalogue numbers were the ones that really commandeered the night, ‘FullMoon’, ‘Tallulah’ and ‘Black sheep’ all stood out for me and had all the audience singing and dancing along.

Tony Kakko and the rest of the band were on form; delivering a high voltage show, with great vocal work and a couple of great solos from the band. A couple of people seemed to think the sound let them down because the keyboard got lost in the mix. I don’t agree, and I’m sure the majority of the audience didn’t agree either judging by the sweaty grinning faces that came pouring out the venue.