On May 22nd 2018 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, Michigan, I finally got to witness a band I’ve had many people tell me to go see. Out of Helsinki, Finland, Apocalyptica were on their Plays Metallica by Four Cellos tour.
It been several years now that I’ve been hanging with fellow metalheads standing in line talking about favorite shows as we wait for doors to open. Often the name Apocalyptica was mentioned as a show to see. I had heard of Apocalyptica as they have gained more and more success over the years since they began in 1993. Apocalyptica is not your typical heavy metal band as they do not wield guitars but cellos instead. It’s as if Yo-Yo Ma was possessed by the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, Apocalyptica was spawned.
Bringing a touch of class to the heavy metal genre, Apocalyptica makes the clash of classical instrumentals of cellos to make heavy metal sounds click like peanut butter and jelly. The show was done in two parts. The first act was an easy going laid back vibe as Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lotjonen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Antero Manninen played their cellos like proper classical instrumentalists at a well-dressed high dollar formal event. But instead of the music of Beethoven or Mozart, it was the music of Metallica with songs like “Enter Sandman”, “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Creeping Death”.
This tour harks back to Apocalyptica’s first album ‘Plays Metallica by Four Cellos’ which was released in 1996 and having since been re-released in 2016 after getting remastered and including bonus tracks, Apocalyptica pays homage to their beginnings. And after a brief intermission Apocalyptica came out full of energy for the second half. Telling the crowd to cut loose and get on their feet and since no one in Apocalyptica sings, the crowd provided the vocals. It was definitely a tale of two halves with the first being easy going and the second half full of energy as some of the guys changed their wardrobe to better suit a rock n roll attitude as Paavo showed off his American flag underwear and the inclusion of drummer Mikko Siren whose drum kit is cool as heck with some wild looking cymbals and drums shaped like tubes. Very unique drum set that totally fits in with the unique band that is Apocalyptica.
The only one who didn’t change wardrobe or demeaner was Antero Manninen, who showed why he is better known as Mr. Cool. With a nice suit, dark sunglasses and a stoic face, he absolutely lives up to his nickname while his band mates were all over the stage wailing away on their cellos and pumping up the crowd. Mr. Cool did have the best cello of the night though as he used a smoking back lit cello for a song that displayed a skull pattern. Sometimes being subtle can be just as attention grabbing as being loud and in your face.
Apocalyptica puts on a great show and the fans loved it and they’ve certainly verified what people have told me about them. For those of you looking to enjoy some heavy metal music with a classical twist, Apocalyptica is the fix.