at Le Bataclan, Paris, France, October 26, 2023

STRATOVARIUS (Live at Le Bataclan, Paris, France, October 26, 2023)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

For French fans of Power Metal, that evening at Le Bataclan was certainly a treat: Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica and Sortilège playing on the same stage for one hour each. It was also rather surprising to have the national residents headlining the show, before the two other international titans of the genre: an arrangement that suited most of the fans and showed that perhaps the two others are no longer at the peak of their glory anymore.

Sonata Arctica

The last time Sonata Arctica played in France was utterly disappointing, there’s no beating around the bush. Their recent albums are at best entirely forgettable, at worst painful and the fact that they almost exclusively played tracks from those made their 2019 show rather mediocre.

Rest assured, water under the bridge! This time, their minute set was designed to please the crowd. The venue was already full to the brim during their performance. Now sporting bleached hair, Toni Kako was in good vocal shape right from the start with the opening title “Black Sheep.” The newest albums were thrown away for the night, except the packed of worthy sentiments – but frankly annoying – pop ballad “I Have a Right” from Stone Grows Her Name. Ballads are also a trademark of the band, and the audience – and perhaps the Tallulah babies – was cheering for the song even after the long introduction. Luckily epicness came back with “Full Moon.” A token of the audience’s appreciation for Sonata Arctica was that everyone knew the song by heart, and the French are not usually known for their ability to sing in English.

The band left the stage after the encore with “The Cage” but most importantly the classic “Don’t Say A Word” that had not been played last time. After a lackluster few performances, Sonata finally seems to be back on track, as proven by their new song played that night “First In Line,” rather promising for the new album. Here’s to hoping the future holds good things for a band that did not sail smoothly the last decade.


Contrary to their predecessors, Stratovarius’ last album had been quite a success, and once again the band delivered an efficient set. Kotipelto might not be as young as he used to, but he’s still an excellent singer. He hit those high-pitched vocal lines with an impressive apparent ease, to the point that he could sing “Find Your Own Voice” again (shame they did not.)

Stratovarius put just a bit of spotlight on their latest record, with the opening title “Survive.” The track was already excellent on the album: the raw and powerful rendition on stage was even better. Kotipelto & co also played “World On Fire” and “Frozen In Time,” two power-tracks of Survive. From the vocals to the guitars and keyboards, all the musicians were in top form and truly happy to be here, defending new songs with real conviction.

Fans of the old days be reassured: the rest of the setlist was packed with hits and classics. From “Paradise” to “Eagleheart” they wasted no time in ballads and unleashed the full force of their epic riffs and choruses. It was way too early when they had to finish their set with the triplet of “Black Diamond”, “Unbreakable” and the anthemic “Hunting High Low” during which the audience gave their all.

Despite the rough patches the band hit these past years, Stratovarius still is a force to reckon with.


A bit of a national pride, the resurrection of Sortilège is still quite an event for the French Metal Scene. While a small part of the audience left the venue (one could argue it had more to do with the public transports availability rather than any sort of dislike for Sortilège.) the band felt truly at home. As Zouille, the French Rob Halford, reminded the audience, Sortilège had their first break in the 1980′ when they opened for Def Leppard in the same venue.

Now strong with a new album, Apocalypso, released earlier this year, the band lost no time in fancy words. “Chasse Le Dragon” (Hunting the Dragon) and it chorus could have well raised up the roof of the Bataclan, and it was just the beginning! “Poseidon” track from the new album, is also a definitive hit, as well as the tribute to Ronnie James Dio “Derrière Les Portes de Babylone “(Behind The Gates Of Babylone.) “D’ailleurs” and “Délire D’un Fou” were a neat treat for the fans of the first hour.

As often with their last shows in festivals or near Paris, Stéphane Buriez (Loudblast) came to sing his part for the new anthem “Attila.” Probably there were a few disappointed souls in the crowd. With only one hour for each band, even Sortilège had to cut back on the classic tracks and only had time to finish with “Messager” and “Sortilège.” With this lineup completely different from the band earliest successful years, Sortilège is still kicking ass. A special mention to the duet of guitaris Bruno Ramos (ex:Manigance) and Olivier Spitzer!

With three hours of show, the three titans had to make some compromises but with an entirely successful result! In any case, at least Sonata Arctica and Sortilège will soon grace the stages of Paris as headliners, so think of this night as an appetizer!

Sonata Arctica – Setlist

  1. Black Sheep
  2. First in Line
  3. I Have a Right
  4. Replica
  5. 8th Commandment
  6. Tallulah
  7. FullMoon
  8. The Cage
  9. Don’t Say a Word

Stratovarius – Setlist

  1. Survive
  2. Eagleheart
  3. World on Fire
  4. Paradise
  5. Frozen in Time
  6. Father Time
  7. Black Diamond
  8. Unbreakable
  9. Huntin High and Low

Sortilège – Setlist

  1. Amazone
  2. Civilisation Perdu
  3. Le Sacre du Sorcier
  4. Chasse le Dragon
  5. Poseidon
  6. Derrière les Portes de Babylone
  7. D’Ailleurs
  8. Délire d’un Fou
  9. Vampire
  10. Attila (feat. Stéphane Buriez)
  11. Phoenix
  12. Messager
  13. Sortilège


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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