ARIA / RAGE
CSKA Ice Palace Palace
Moscow, Russia
May 3, 2000

The show could have been a dream come true. Just imagine Russia's best heavy metal band (and we're talking heavy metal - no joke! -- ed.) and one of Germany's most outstanding power metal acts playing in a large venue for 1.5 hours each. I mean, how cool could that be? The answer: it was a disaster. I can't believe that such a great show could be so fucked up. So read on and you'll learn how to ruin the people's expectations To begin with, the tickets for the floor were practically not available in Moscow. Aria's own shop never had them, and other ticket booths ran out of them several days after they went on sale. But that was the lesser of all problems.

Serious trouble started when I showed up for the concert only to find out that it had been postponed. You wanna know why? Because it was scheduled for the eve of the Orthodox Easter, and the Moscow patriarch's office decided that the day was improper for what they probably considered a satanic mass or something. I withhold my comments on this decision, for they would basically consist of all the cursewords in all languages that I know (and that's a lot, trust me... -- ed.). Let me remind however, that this country still proclaims the freedom of religious belief and the freedom of speech. OK, I came again three days later (luckily I live in this city, not somewhere in Siberia). And right there yet another trouble occurred. Rage came onstage at 20.00 precisely, when I was still waiting for my turn to get in the hall. The Ice Palace was packed, and people had to stand outside the doors for at least 25 minutes. Besides, the police were blocking all corridors, searching everyone who looked suspicious or had a bag or something. As a result, at least 1,000 people were outside when the show actually started.

When I finally got in, Rage were already playing the third song, and that's where the worst disappointment hit me. The sound was a damn shame. Viktor Smolsky's guitar was too loud, so the rest of the band were buried deep in the mix. I don't know what was the problem, people around me were blaming it on the bad acoustics of the hall and poor-quality equipment. Slower songs such as "Back In Time" sounded OK, but faster tracks like "Sent By The Devil" seemed closer to unidentifiable noise than to speed metal music. You have to be a massive fan of Rage (like me) to like such a concert. Let's do justice to the band, they did their best to put on a great show, and the audience obviously enjoyed it. They played a lot of old classics and threw in a couple of new tracks. Of course, there was no orchestra or keyboards, only three men struggling with terrible sound and obviously failing. Moreover, Rage played for only one hour instead of the promised 90 minutes. It later turned out that the Ice Palace administration allowed to reschedule the show only on the condition that it ended at 22.30. As a result, both bands were forced to limit their sets. After a small break, Aria hit the stage. The sound improved a lot, though it was far from perfect.

Aria opted for not putting up a "greatest-hits" compilation, playing instead a few relatively obscure themes and last year's radio hit "Reckless Angel" (a cover version of Golden Earring's "Run Angel Run" with Russian lyrics) which was enthusiastically received by the audience. It was clear that a larger part of the crowd came to see Aria, and they apparently got what they wanted. Unfortunately, this set was also too short (circa 75 minutes) and the band did not play a lot of the anticipated songs. For example, I was eager to hear "Time Has Come" (Russian version of Manowar's "Return Of The Warlord") or the two new songs from their latest compilation. Before getting off the stage, Aria played their 1986's classic track "Will And Sanity" and was surprisingly joined by Viktor Smolski on guitar, Mike Terrana on a sort of percussion and Peavy Wagner on backing vocals. Of course, Peavy does not know Russian, but the chorus was easy to follow, and almost the entire audience was singing along. To sum it all up, I don't think I wasted my money by coming to the show. However it was unmeasurably worse than I had expected. I'm afraid the musicians were not too happy with it either and I doubt that Rage will ever come here again. Which is a pity, for I am eager to see them playing a full show in a place with better acoustics than this damn Sports Palace.

Rage set list (running order approximate):
???
From The Cradle To The Grave
Days Of December
Back In Time
Sent By The Devil
Firestorm Solitary Man
Turn The Page
Under Control
Guitar Solo
Drums Solo
Don't Fear
The Winter
Higher Than The Sky

-- Maniac

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