Apocalyptica + Awaken Solace
The Hi Fi, Brisbane
Reviewed by Bec Hennessey
Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life. But I never knew cellos could be both sexy and metal. Finland’s Apocalyptica have taken their time in coming to our shores but the revelation was well worth the wait.
The crowd is packed from the stage to the bar at Brisbane’s Hi Fi tonight. Local openers Awaken Solace’s symphonic metal is well received. A spattering of heads nodding and generous applause.
Apocalyptica descend the stage in a haze of fog to uproarious applause. The opening strains of ‘Grace’ do nothing to quell this.  Paavo Lötjönen roars and points to the crowd whilst Perttu Kivilaakso riffs on his cello like a guitar, hair whipping wildly.  Not to be overlooked powerhouse drummer Mikko Sirén.  Eicca Toppinen stands centre stage, commanding.
The duelling cello’s alternate from crisp and keening to a punishing heaviness any metal guitarist would envy. I soon see why this tour is so hotly anticipated.
They put on a great show. There’s Paavo stage left lasciviously making eyes at us, and urging handclapping and fist pumping. Perttu roams the stage thrashing his cello.  Eicca gazes out into the crowd and plays back to back with his fellow band members. There’s even some KISS-style tongue action and headbanging all round. Showmanship – these guys have it.
They began their existence as a Metallica tribute band way back in ’93. This description doesn’t really do justice to the haunting beauty they bring to the metal classics. You begin to understand this when they break out ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and the whole place is singing along. Not in the pub rock kind of way you would usually imagine, It’s with a hushed reverence. Needless to say ‘One’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ provoke similar responses.
When touring vocalist Tipe Johnson (ex Leningrad Cowboys) joins the stage, I was so caught up I had almost forgotten Apocalyptica have vocals as well.  He launches into ‘End of Me’ the Gavin Rossdale collaboration, which I’ll admit, is probably my least favourite track off 7th Symphony.  His interpretation however injects life into it. On crowd favourites ‘I’m Not Jesus’ and ‘I Don’t Care’ he more than lives up to the album versions, both the crowd and band singing along impassionedly.  The vocal tracks are interspersed with their gorgeous haunting instrumental pieces. The lush sounds of the cello lulling the normally raucous Hi Fi. You could hear a pin drop, but even if it did you wouldn’t notice. Because the performance is so enthralling.
There’s so many facets to this band that I think you don’t fully appreciate until you see their live show. The eerie symphonic instrumentals, the cello metal riffs, the rock n roll stage presence. They combine a rock swagger with stunning classical proficiency. They do more with 3 cellos than some 3 piece metal bands. Dare I say better too. I hope they don’t wait so long before returning again.
Photos by Greg Morgan can be found here

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