Just before Canada’s first long weekend of the Summer, I had the great pleasure of witnessing a concert that I’ve been craving for years. Having been lucky enough to witness Rhapsody of Fire in the early 2000’s, there seemed to be a bit of a mix brewing in the lineup.
As fans began to line up for the show, I met fans of both the headliners and the opener but neither compared to the band that had never graced Canada before and had amassed more than a million viral shares on the social media app TikTok – Wind Rose.
With fans gushing over their joy of the latest album titled Warfront released last June, to the viral classic and now dance remixed “Diggy Diggy Hole“, there was an array of fans both eager and anxious to see the Power Metal Dwarves in action. I, myself was one of those fans. Having arrived early for the Meet n Greet, overly excited to meet and witness a band that I’ve only grown more and more fond of over the years.
With my favourites ranging from “To Erebor“, “Awakening” and “The Returning Race” to the newer “Gates of Ekrund” and “Together We Rise“, it was comforting to see the amount of fans happy to share their own favourites and strike up questions and curiosities on the older releases.
The Meet n Greet was fantastic in my opinion. With quite a lengthy amount of time being spent with the band discussing everything from venue showers to visa applications and more. It was relaxed, with only a few of us being present which allowed for a more intimate experience. We got some swag, photos, and autographs and went back out to grab food and await the show.
The venue selected for this sold out show was The Garrison, located nearby Toronto’s very own Little Italy (befitting for both Rhapsody and WR it seemed) that’s more of a bar than a live music venue. It fits no more than 300 patrons in its back area making for a tight but entertaining show when fans begin packing in. I have never heard Seven Kingdoms.
I have heard OF them but I have never seen them live NOR listened to any of their songs. They were the openers of the evening and what an experience. The energy that these guys unleashed was next level. With hamburger plushies and smiles all around, the positive energy and star-shattering melodies were easy to get in line with.
With a progressive and symphonic feel, these guys never once backed down. The atmosphere was a mix but, it took little time for Seven Kingdoms to have everyone head-banging, dancing, and waving along.
Having known nothing about them before, it definitely got me hooked and moving and I tacked a few songs on my playlist once they were done.
The energy was high but when Wind Rose was due to take the stage, the pressure was on. Fans began to crowd in towards the stage and phones were at the ready to capture this historical event. I managed to snag myself a spot to the right of the stage, with my waist at its base, ready to go full tilt for one of the best Power Metal bands the world has even seen.
“Of War and Sorrow” erupted and the atmosphere grew wild with humid air and tense breaths. Every phone was held up as band members took the stage and “Army of Stone” commenced.
Fans went wild. Erupting into cheers and jumping, giving the band every bit of attention they sought while cycling it back and forth.
The outfits were all adorned, with furs and armours positioned carefully as if they were marching to war. The Dwarven Army showed up and we held our fists high at the ready for command.
Of course it isn’t all war and bloodshed. “Drunken Dwarves” off the popular Wintersaga album got the crowd on their feet, jumping around and singing along as if we’d taken over a small mountainside tavern. It was a ton of fun with smiles spattering the cheeks of fans from ear to ear.
“Fellows of the Hammer” brought roars from the crowd as expected. I’d met many fans before the show who claimed it to be their favourite track. All their faces were serious and stern as they raised their horns and sang along.
“Mine! Mine! Mine!” Brought more singing much to the band’s enjoyment. To see so many fans there, excited for them, and to witness them, must’ve been a feeling like no other.
The energy never diminished. Not even once. And when my favourite track of the evening, and from their discography “To Erebor” arrived, I embraced chaos.
Letting all my energy and vocals absolutely go feral to this track, I received several pats on the back throughout and at the end for my commitment with many of the barricade or stage rushers even admitting that I deserved to be front row. The LOTR fan and Metal fan in me was more than pleased.
But, I couldn’t lose that energy as “Together We Rise” carried over the crowd and I had to give it all once more. My hair was everywhere. My clothes were drenched but I sang and head-banged until the final note. Singing word-for-word and thriving on the crowd’s chanting and the band’s joy.
But all good things come to an end, and the Dwarves must continue their journey. “Diggy Diggy Hole” rose and so did the crowd both sorrowful for the end but ecstatic for this massive hit to overtake the room.
The crowd leapt up in excitement, every word bellowed out from the belly of the beast as fans clapped, fist pumped and danced along. With a twist, the dance remix kicked in and together, Wind Rose and Army jumped along with the room smiling and laughing together.
To say that Wind Rose live is an experience is too light. It’s a journey through mountains cold, fields of gold, and mines deep and old. It’s there and back again. Recounting every song and story as if it were our very own memory. Wind Rose is a band like no other and if you have the chance to witness them live, don’t skip out.
My era of Rhapsody in Fire came in my high school days. Symphony of Enchanted Lands clung to me. Playing on my disc-man until it wore thin with tracks unable to play.
Tracks like “Sacred Power of Raging Winds” and “Unholy Warcry” lingered with me throughout my years until new albums came and they passed the torch. Fans from Wind Rose seemed to move toward the back or out for a breather as Rhapsody took the stage, crimson backdrop bringing in Christopher Lee’s legendary voice to retell “Tales of a Hero’s Fate“.
It was its own mesmerizing experience. As if you had your mead in hand and were now recounting the darker tales, beyond the era of Dwarves, and into another realm entirely.
“I’ll Be Your Hero” kicked up with Giacomo Voli’s signature vocals rising over us and cascading like a sparkling waterfall. To hear a sound so similar live and recorded is to be blessed, as being so close to the band you felt every strum of the chords. Ever beat of the drums. And every held breath to reach those vocal highs.
My favourite track of the new era, “Chains of Destiny” took over and I let myself embrace madness one more time. It is by no means a slow or easy song lyrically or musically but, I’d sang it so many times both driving along and in my head that I never skipped a beat. To keep up with each pause and beat is no easy feat but I carried through one last time.
As “The Legend Goes On” arose, I shifted my spot for a more well-deserving fan. Taking my chance to look at merch, take a rest and meet with some friends.
The atmosphere outside was one of sweet relief from the pressure of many bodies and the over-whelming heat but the vibes still ran high. I could hear “Unholy Warcry” bring up the nostalgia and I left shortly after for the long drive home.
This show was deserving of a WAY larger venue. But with 2023 bringing on so many cancelled or post-poned shows I was not surprised that it had to stick to this location.
I was beyond thrilled to have witnessed a concert like this. Something that left me feeling fulfilled and full of adrenaline from before start to finish. Each band seemed to flow into one another as if stories were told from different eras or realms yet still tied together. It was fun. It was rallying. And it was something that will stick with me for a very LONG time.
Seven Kingdoms are next level with their charisma and energy soaring over us and making us feel like old friends.
Rhapsody of Fire always commit to the chaos of their tales and the sorrow deep beneath their legends. It’s no wonder their albums continue to please and their merch always sells out.
I cannot wait for Wind Rose to take on their own headline tour for North America. It’s something not to be missed. With their energy, power, and performance, it’s only a matter of time before they take back Erebor and the age of Dwarves is renewed.