Apocalyptica Live at Tennessee Performing Arts Center

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center rests directly in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Known for hosting all the Broadway shows that come through Music City, this cultural center is a venue that caters to a variety of performances. Including an occasional Heavy Metal show. The Finnish act, Apocalyptica came to town last Tuesday to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (Mercury/Universal). This acclaimed group of guys, known for their unique use of the Cello, came out with their first record just over twenty years ago and have been on the road all around the world honoring its notable significance.

As the Metal masters prepped before their show, the sizable and elegant theater began to fill with fans. An excited buzz bubbled in the handsome hall till the lights went dim. The heart was set racing as the talent that is Apocalyptica took the stage. Immediately their sense of confidence and capability stung the senses. Though hosted in a less than commonplace for headbanging music, the theater still rang true with cheer as fans applauded the accomplished act. As their stunningly sensitive rendition of ‘Unforgiven’ swept through the crowd, their passionate take on such a notable song moved the whole room. The founding members, Eicca Toppinen and Paavo Lötjönen carry an exquisite ability to perform with transparency. Along with longtime member, Perttu Kivilaakso and touring member Lauri Kankkunen, their playful purity struck everyone in attendance. Toppinen narrated the first half of the show and conveyed in earnest how it was, “amazing to be here” and how they were all just “friends having fun together”.

The fashionable theater thundered with power as the four broke into ‘Sad but True’ revealing the band’s raw, rare talent. The first half of the night ended with the wonders, ‘Wherever I May Roam’ and ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’. The exuberant vibrancy on these numbers propelled the crowd into a colorful and meaningful experience. After a brief intermission, the four came back and they brought their drummer friend, Mikko Sirén with them. The eager energy of the second set seeped, then spilled and spread. Then this concept tour came to the anthem ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and the guys gave everything with a dynamic deliberateness. Even as these Finnish fellas raised a raucous there was a strong sensitivity to the heaviness and originality of the mighty Metallica. Their creative interpretation of each song gave the crowd countless chills.

The band broke into a new level of enthusiasm when they played, ‘Orion’, one of their favorites. Then they roared into the rare oldie off of the album Ride the Lightning, ‘Escape’ showing off the kind of metalhead kids they really are. Their physicality of the show, being able to express fire and fervor while playing the cello is truly unique. Their momentum, emotion, and lightheartedness added to the already delicious icing on the cake. The entire room stood as the crescendo of ‘Seek & Destroy’ culminated all their colorful competence. Then their encore included ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘One’, which set a truly thoughtful mood as the nifty night ended. The band completing on such poignant pieces showed the majestic grace that each one of the members possesses. Their skilled and sincere presentation of Metallica’s catalog made for a memorable night.

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY RAGIN ROSIE