Given that there is a sub-genre of metal called Neoclassical metal, it’s fair to say metal and classical are two sides of the same coin. As annoying as Yngwie Malmsteen is, there is no denying he can play. His love for Italian violinist Paganini is well documented, and as for Paganini’s 5th Caprice… the earliest example of shredding? Players of traditional string instruments can shred with the best of them. Apocalyptica have been shredding their cellos for decades now, and are honouring their debut album ‘Plays Metallica By Four Cellos’ by playing it in its entirety.
With original member Antero Manninen back in the fold for the tour, it makes a striking sight as the four cellists take their positions and ‘Enter Sandman’ kicks off the evening. Spare a thought for Paavo Lötjönen who, despite sporting a full length leg brace, is doing a great job of not letting it spoil his evening. ‘Plays Metallica By Four Cellos’ is essentially a Metallica ‘best of’ played by cellos, so the heavy hitters are duly rolled out, Apocalyptica working their way through the likes of ‘Master Of Puppets’, ‘Creeping Death’, ‘Sad But True’, and ‘Harvester Of Sorrow’. Watching Antero softly begin ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ with the three others playing in a picking style is a real highlight. The quality of playing is staggering, and you don’t need to be a Metallica fan, or indeed a classical fan, to enjoy the performance… just marvel at the musicianship. ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ signals the end of the debut album and the first part of the show. Enter drummer Mikko Sirén.
With the introduction of Mikko and his incredible drum kit, the energy on stage, and amongst the crowd, ramps up. Eicca Toppinen and Perttu Kivilaakso ditch the chairs and instead, it’s upright, ready for action, with Eicca taking the gold in the headbanging category. Part two features more Metallica classics. ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’, and ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ work very well, but the highlight is ‘Seek & Destroy’, which has some shredding lead work from Perttu. At times his fingers fly up and down the fingerboard with such speed and precision, that you can only look on in awe, he is a joy to watch. Tune into any TV talent show, and you will find cellists or violinists playing rock, metal, or pop, and the judges will have that slack-jawed look on their faces. Apocalyptica did it first… and do it best.
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Review: Becky O’Grady