Photos by David Rubene
Apocalyptica rocked the historic Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis this past Sunday evening (September 17) taking us to a journey to their amazing beginning. In May 1996, Apocalyptica released their debut album ‘Plays Metallica By Four Cellos’. It features eight instrumental Metallica covers arranged and played on cellos. The band was invited to record this album by a label employee after a 1995 show in which they performed some of the songs. The members were initially unsure and thought nobody would listen to such a record, but the employee insisted and they carried through with the recording.
Twenty years and eight albums later, they re-released it. The remastered album comes with three bonus tracks. From Apocalyptica’s own writing “Now that our debut album is all grown up & old enough to drink, what better way to celebrate its anniversary, than to take it back on the road next year for all our loyal fans to see!!” For those who still don’t know them, Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello metal band from Helsinki formed in 1993. They are classically trained cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Antero Manninen (all four of whom are graduates of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki). Originally a Metallica classical tribute band, the band eventually adopted a neoclassical metal style without the use of conventional guitars. The acceptance in the music community has been very successful and is clearly reflected in the over four million albums sold.
With the Pantages Theatre acting as a classic backdrop to this nostalgic event, the energy in the venue couldn’t have been higher. The Pantages Theater is an amazing venue that was built in 1916 in an area of downtown Minneapolis now known as the ‘Theatre District’. Originally built for vaudeville acts, carefully planned renovations have preserved its theatrical beauty and rich acoustics.
Many fans flooded into the venue early to enjoy cocktails and a great selection of merchandise. As 8pm hit, the lights went out and four square panels were illuminated by spotlights. The four cellists entered the stage to a huge applause. As expected, ‘Enter Sandman’ started the set strong and loud with the audience immediately engaged. Their line-up, lighting and visual concept on stage is at the same time Metal, Gothic, Middle Age and, in a way, almost futuristic. Eicca Toppinen mentioned, “When we recorded this album we hadn’t other expectations but just to sell a few copies. The story turned different and here we are thanks to you.”
Hearing Apocalytica’s historical album, played live, song after song so beautifully arranged and powerfully played was the fulfilment of everyone’s expectations. During the show Eicca Toppinen mentioned “We recorded this album 21 years ago. There are some of those songs we haven’t played in last 15 years. Since 1996 we have recorded 8 albums. Six of them are of our own composition. If you didn’t know that, go and listen to them. There is some good shit in there.” The last song of the album ‘Welcome Home’, which we perfectly executed, closed out the first part of the show. The highlight of the performance were two key songs that everybody came to see … ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and ‘Until It Sleeps’ These definitely received the wildest reaction from the packed house. Other songs that drew a high response were ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘One’. In the end as the crowd left the Pantages Theatre, it was easy to see the glowing smiles of satisfaction.
This is truly a one of a kind, unique experience. How often do you see a band of cellists banging their heads reminiscent of Cliff Burton’s live performances with Metalica? Apocalyptica had just shown that they are one of the most energetic and certainly a very unique band in the metal circuit.