The summer of 2022 was the starting point for Two Steps From Hell‘s first concert tour. Never before had the band, composed by Thomas Bergersen and Nick Phoenix, embarked on a similar project and they did it offering a total of 13 concerts in several European cities (read more).
The tour was a success (read more) and in mid-November, the group announced a new tour for 2023 (read more), which once again, would be only in Europe and would have the same number of concerts, but changing some cities.
Josep Ferré (SoundTrackFest) was present at the first concert of this new tour and here is a detailed summary of it.
The city in charge of kicking off the tour this time was the Czech city of Prague, the only one on this tour where 2 concerts would be held. The concert was performed at the O2 Universum with a full house.
Upon entering the venue and viewing the stage for the first time, no major changes from last year’s layout were apparent. The orchestra, instruments, spotlights, and the light tubes at the back of the stage, were placed in a very similar way to the previous tour.
Another aspect that has not suffered much variation, is in the artists who will accompany Thomas and Nick during this concert and the rest of the tour. We will continue to have the presence of Merethe Soltvedt (singer), Inana Bold (singer), Kamila Nývltová (singer), Greg Ellis (percussion), Saulius Petreikis (woodwinds), Eliane Correa (keyboard, piano, bass), Skye Emanuel (guitar), the Odessa Opera Orchestra from Ukraine, and the Polish choir ReChoir conducted on this occasion by Anna Rozentalska. And as a novelty we have two new additions, Mariko Muranaka (cello) and Mia Asano (violin) in place of Helen Nash and Esther Abrami who participated in the previous tour.
The concert program was as follows:
Before continuing with the summary, I would like to point out that prior to the start of this new tour, Two Steps From Hell performed for the first time at the Wacken Open Air Festival, a Heavy Metal music festival in Germany, where the band showed some of their greatest hits in front of more than 50,000 people (read more). Some of the songs that were played were “tweaked” to better suit the Heavy Metal style of the festival. These tweaks have been maintained for the tour, where we have been able to hear more electric guitars and percussion in some songs.
This Wacken influence can be noticed in the first song of the night. This time the one chosen to start the concert is “Protectors of the Earth” by Thomas Bergersen.
With the first notes, two changes respecting to last year can already be appreciated. One is an improvement in the sound, especially in the choir, sounding more homogeneous and compact, and the other change, is the appearance of Thomas playing the electric guitar and with a look very similar to the one used in Wacken, sleeveless t-shirt, jeans, and sunglasses. With the presence of Thomas with the guitar, the song gains more weight and the adaptation to a more metal style becomes evident. The power of this song, so iconic of the band, makes the audience cheer up a lot, waking them up suddenly from the pre-concert waiting.
Almost without time to recover from the first theme, the notes of another of the group’s greatest hits, “Strenght of a Thousand Men” by Thomas Bergersen, start to play. As a novelty in this piece, we can see Eliane Correa playing the bass and again a more powerful choir. Also noteworthy is the clothing of the artists, all in black, and with a certain gothic look. Another thing that is evident in these first two songs, is the energy given off by the two new additions. Mia and Mariko are very active at all times, performing impossible postures while playing their respective instruments.
And now, after this powerful start, it’s time to calm down a bit with the piece “Empire of Angels” again by Thomas Bergersen. Here everyone takes advantage of the slow and soft rhythm of the song to recover energies. A beautiful theme that opened the concerts at the last tour.
Next, we find the first novelty in the list of songs of the tour “Sariel Nighthawk Suite” by Nick Phoenix. This work, already played at Wacken, is a revision and fusion of two pieces entitled “Sariel” and “Nighthawk“, two of the favorite works of Nick Phoenix’s fans.
And without leaving Nick, we continue with “Am I not human?”, during which we will hear the magnificent voice of Nick Phoenix for the first time in this concert. As an anecdote, all the artists wear sunglasses again, as they did on the last tour.
We continue now with two pieces by Thomas Bergersen “Cannon in D Minor” and “Star Sky“, this second one magnificently interpreted by Kamila Nývltová.
And next we come to the second novelty of the night, as far as music is concerned, “Harley Templar” by Nick Phoenix. A dark piece where Greg Ellis and Skye Emanuel do an excellent job.
With no time to catch our breath, we continue with another Nick Phoenix track entitled “Fire Nation“. Here, the percussion and the exotic voice of Inana Bold, come together to create a hypnotic atmosphere that leaves the audience trapped, which cannot look away from the hands of Greg playing masterfully the djembe.
Then we come to the most beautiful moment of the concert. With a song from Humanity’s third album, Thomas Bergersen brings us “Love suite“. Performed for the first time live and with the surprise of seeing Thomas playing the role of orchestra conductor, it is an ideal moment to relax, close our eyes, and let ourselves be carried away by the notes dedicated to that feeling that moves the world: love.
And to end the first part, comes the most cheerful and lively moment of the concert with another of the novelties entitled “Away with your fairies” (Humanity V version). A piece with Irish rhythms and a lot of energy, in which Thomas Bergersen, with his violin in hand, did not stop jumping during the whole song.
We start the second part with the famous “Victory” by Thomas Bergersen. One of the most beloved songs by the band’s fans and with hundreds of millions of plays on YouTube. Merethe Soltvedt once again amazes us with her great voice.
And as in the previous tour, the stage is again dyed red to welcome Nick Phoenix‘s “Dragon“. Once again, the virtuosity of Greg Ellis with the djembe and the voice and movements of Inana Bold leave us captivated. In the background of the stage, stand out the fights between warriors created with the light tubes.
The next two tracks are “El Dorado” by Thomas Bergersen and “Wolf King” by Nick Phoenix. Both pieces are not very different from the previous tour. To highlight, the new additions Mia and Mariko with their spectacular movements and strength on stage.
We continue now with “Defenders Of The Grail” from the album Myth, composed by Nick Phoenix, which is another novelty in this tour. In it we can appreciate his characteristic style where, as in many occasions, has the choir as its main protagonist.
Then it’s time to relax and enjoy Thomas Bergersen‘s famous “Remember Me“. The spotlight is focused on the only two protagonists of this piece, Thomas and Merethe. The Norwegian singer, with a blue dress and Thomas sitting at his piano, return to offer us an extended and improvised version of this beautiful song while the audience illuminates the hall with the lights of their phones.
It’s the turn now to one of the most powerful and energetic songs of the concert “Never Give up on Your Dreams” composed by Thomas Bergersen. With the sound of one of the flutes of Saulius Petreikis, the pieces starts and the protagonism falls on the 5 artists who occupy the front of the stage. Mariko, Inana, Kamila, Mia, and Eliane give us a demonstration of talent and strength, absorbing all the attention and weight of the piece.
Again, one of the flutes of Saulius Petreikis presents “Flight of The Silverbird” also by Thomas Bergersen and in which we can appreciate several modifications respecting to the previous year. The first is that Thomas leaves the piano to take the guitar, and the second is a more “metal” version. The choir, Thomas, Skye Emanuel, and Eliane on bass, do an excellent job performing this great hit included in the album Battlecry.
And now we come to one of the last novelties of the tour. None other than “Memoria“, one of the greatest hits from Thomas Bergersen‘s latest album “Humanity chapter V“. With a classical guitar in hand, Thomas accompanies the real protagonist of this song, Merethe Soltvedt. The singer leaves us all speechless with her vocal ability, especially in the final part of the song, reaching notes within reach of very few.
Turn now for Nick Phoenix and “Stormkeeper“. A song, with some small changes that we already saw in Wacken, which will take us directly to an epic battle between good and evil. Again, a choir with a lot of protagonism and a Saulius Petreikis that will offer us some of his movements and dances, that already delighted us in the previous tour.
And with much sadness, we come to the end of the official list. This time, they have reserved for the end, the piece that unleashed the madness among all the fans during the first tour. A theme, on which Thomas makes a brief introduction and which was also emblematic at the Wacken concert. We are talking about “Impossible” and its apotheosic final part (with the mythical scream of Saulius included) and golden brooch to close the official part of this concert. As a novelty, Merethe comes down from the stage and starts singing in the audience during the song.
We enter now in that unofficial part called “the extras” or “the encores”. This year we could only enjoy 2 extra songs (and not four as in the previous tour) and a part of the piece “Away With Your Fairies” that would definitely close the concert.
The first extra is a Nick Phoenix song called “Fractured Soul” which is part of a solo album called “Underdog” that will be released in mid-November.
The second extra is the unmistakable “Heart of Courage” by Thomas Bergersen, powerful and captivating.
And as we mentioned before, the concert closes with the final part of “Away with your fairies” with Thomas Bergersen and Mia Asano coming down to dance and play with the audience, unleashing madness among many of their fans, who can’t believe they have one of their idols playing next to them.
We find this a concert, where, without many changes at visual, aesthetic, or technical level with respect to the previous tour, gets us to enjoy more, thanks to several factors.
The first and most remarkable is the obvious improvement of the sound. As I have already mentioned, the choir sounds much better and more powerful and this influences a lot in several songs where this element is the protagonist.
Another factor that I think is noteworthy, is that in this second tour the artists, technical, creative, and organizational team, already have an experience, which makes it possible to correct some errors or cadences that could have been in the concerts of the previous year. Where I noticed the most evident change was with Thomas Bergersen. This time he was much more comfortable on stage and more willing to interact with the audience. The use of the electric guitar instead of the piano, makes his presence and character on stage more visible.
Another plus, are the “modifications” made on some songs for Wacken. As they are not included in any album, it makes the audience feel privileged to listen to these exclusive songs.
Another element that makes everything better than last year is the new additions. Helen and Esther did a phenomenal and outstanding job throughout the previous tour, but Mia and Mariko raise the level a lot more, thanks to their tireless energy on stage. The rest of the artists are not left behind, and also shine, but I have to highlight Eliane Correa, who by changing many times the keyboard for the bass, gains more weight visually and makes the audience more infected with her strength and charisma (she never stops moving throughout the concert!).
Also noteworthy are the costume changes of the artists during the concert and the lighting, which plays a very important role in accompanying each song.
I would like to congratulate all the technical, organizational, creative team, and all the people involved in bringing this project to life. As in the previous tour, the work has been excellent, and let’s hope that we can enjoy many more years of shows like the one we have experienced tonight.
Article and pictures by Josep Ferré