Apocalyptica: Metallica By Four Cellos at The Smith Center

For the second time in under a week I got to see a Finnish metal band perform live, having just seen The 69 Eyes, it was ironic that I should get to see Apocalyptica perform the following Wednesday evening, at a venue that I have never been to before.

Both of these bands are from Finland (both from Helsinki no less) but that is about the only similarity - they are both considered metal bands, but their styles are quite different. Apocalyptica is a symphonic metal band, using cellos in place of other stringed instruments, and often performing without a vocalist, as they did in Vegas at the Smith Center for their Metallica By Four Cellos tour stop.

For this tour the band is performing without local vocalist Franky Perez, doing an instrumental only performance of classic Metallica tunes. This tour is actually a celebration of their 1996 debut album Apocalyptica: Plays Metallica by Four Cellos which was remastered in 2016 for the 20th anniversary of it's release, and the band also released a live version of the album in 2018.

First and foremost, I have to say that my premiere experience at the Smith Center was outstanding. That building is beautiful and Reynolds Hall is incredible. It has theater style seating (2,050 person capacity) sloped toward an enormous stage. There are four floors of box seats along either side of the theater as well as four additional floors of balcony seating at the back of the theater, providing dramatic views of the entire hall, and the whole experience was very pleasant. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for more events here!

Promptly, at 7:30pm, the four cellists of Apocalyptica took to the stage, seated across the stage in front of large lighted panels. The group consists of Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso, and touring cellist Lauri Kankkunen, along with Mikko Sirén joining on drums for the latter part of the show. Eicca and Paavo are two of the original four cellists and co-founders of the band, and Eicca handles the rhythm cello and keyboards and occasionally takes on the role of lead cello, while Paavo takes on the bass cello duties. They are joined by Perttu who is mainly the lead cello, and the newly annointed "fourth cello" Lauri, who handles both lead and rhythm cello. Lauri was added to the group for this tour, taking the place of Antero Manninen, who Eicca claims has "unluckily disappeared."

The first half was traditionally symphonic, starting off with "Enter Sandman" and roll right into "Master Of Puppets" without pause, after which Eicca takes a minute to let everyone know the agenda for the evening's performance. He explains that the first half of the performance would be the entire 1996 album, from start to finish, just as they had recorded it. He also explains that they had not brought along a vocalist, so those duties rested on the audience's shoulders - which brought laughter and cheering from the packed house! They complete the first half of the set with "Harvester Of Sorrow", "Unforgiven", "Sad But True", "Creeping Death", "Wherever I May Roam", after which they announced that they had one more song, and would then be taking a short break and return to play the rest of their Metallica repertoire. They finished off with "Welcome Home" allowing the "rookie" to do the opening solo