Tobias Sammet's Avantasia at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London.

The Avantasia “Moonglow” tour comes to London for it’s only UK date, and the crowd are packed into a rammed Forum early in expectation of a great night.

Having interviewed Tobias Sammet and reviewed the new “Moonglow” album in Issue 8, it was an easy choice to go for the triple and check out the live show too – and what a show it was!

With no support act, the evening kicked off with AC/DC’s “Shook Me All night Long” coming through the PA – and what an apt choice it was. We then have a classical introduction as the curtain falls to reveal an amazing stage set as a churchyard scene with an animated backdrop.

First offering is “Ghost In The Moon”, sung by Sammet himself. It’s the first of several from the Moonglow album, and the crowd are obviously familiar with it already, singing along. Next up is first of a string of guest vocalists adding to the evening with Pretty Maids vocalist Ronnie Atkinson giving us “Starlight” and “Book of Shallows”. He is joined on the later by the amazing talents of backing vocalist Adrienne Cowan – who has a superb voice.

Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London.

Jorn Lande is next on stage to add his voice to the first single from the album, “The Raven Child”. It is another epic performance from Sammet’s long-time collaborator, and you can see the admiration they have for each other coming through on stage. That said, it is the same for all of the guests – Sammet loves working with them, and they love being there.  “Lucifer” sees Lande sharing his vocal talent once more, after the crowd have clapped along to the intro. The backdrop has changed again, now with a burning castle. This is a show, not just a gig, and you don’t know where to look.

The raised walkway at the back of the stage is then home to the power-house that is Geoff Tate – to rapturous applause from the crowd. His vocal acrobatics are still as strong today as they always were,  as he gives us the epic “Alchemy”, followed by a fantastic version of the more gentle “Invincible” alongside the piano.

We then go back to the beginning of it all, with “Reach Out For The Light” from The Metal Opera album.  We see Tobias joined on vocal duties by another of the backing singers, Ina Morgan, who again shows us why she is there – a great singer in her own right.

Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London.

Sadly Candice Night isn’t with us to sing “Moonglow”, but that doesn’t matter as Cowan again steps up to the mark and nails it. This is followed by Sammet telling us that he is always asked why they play the next song – and the reason strolls on to stage in the shape of Mr Big’s Eric Martin. A fantastic cover of “Maniac” from Flashdance ensues, and the crowd are in fine voice again – as is of course Martin! He stays on to give us “Dying For An Angel” from the Wicked Symphony album.

Crowd chants of “BOB, BOB, BOB” can only mean one thing – the appearance of Magnum’s Bob Catley – who gets a fantastic ovation from the crowd, and rightly so.  “Lavender”, from Moonglow is duly followed by “The Story Ain’t Over”  from Lost in Space – showing us why Catley is held in such high esteem.

Lande is back now, and the crowd recognise the song from the first note – “The Scarecrow” receives a massive cheer. Jorn shines as usual, and so do the two guitarists as they trade solos.

Sammet then has a well deserved rest as Martin comes back to duet on “Promised Land” with Lande, before he is then replaced by Tate for an amazing version of “Twisted Mind”. Tate is then left solo for the first Song he heard by the band – “Avantasia” – another full on display.

Sammet then tells us that 2 hrs into a gig, most bands would be finishing with their epic 4 minutes of glory. But no, not tonight. We are graced with the twelve minute epic that is “Let The Storm Descend Upon You” featuring Lande and Atkins, who prove to be a match made for this song. Atkins stays for the thrashy “Master of The Pendulum” from Ghostlights – another highlight for the crowd.

Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London.

We then get a chance to experience the amazing vocals of the third backing singer Herbie Langhans on “Shelter From The Rain”. And boy can he sing! Morgan steps down to join him, as does Catley, as the song builds with some great guitar work and blistering rapid drumming. The “BOB” chants return as “Mystery Of A Blood Red Rose” has the crowd singing along with Catley, before “Lost In Space” ends the set.

Sammet tells us what we already knew – that the band were always going to come back for an encore – but not before he introduces the band. Oliver Hartmann (guitar), Sascha Paeth (guitar), Miro Rodenberg (Keyboards), Andre Neygenfind (bass) and fellow Edguy band-mate Felix Bohnke (drums) have all played their part superbly. All amazing musicians in their own right, but together – absolutely superb.  Cowan is at the front again for “Farewell” before the whole entourage are on stage for a blistering version of “Sign Of The Cross” to end a fantastic night.

Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town, London.

I have to say, one of the best gigs I have ever been to – and I have been to a few! 3 and a quarter hours of non-stop, never flagging, full on energy, musicianship, showmanship and superb voices. It’s amazing that there is only one UK show, and I am certainly glad I got to see it.

WORDS : Doug Bearne