Marking the release of their twelfth album Moonglow, Tobias Sammet‘s Avantasia set off on their second North American excursion in their 20-year career with a short five-date jaunt from San Jose, CA, to Worcester, MA. Halfway through, Avantasia made their first stop ever in the windy city of Chicago.

Patio Theater is quite a large venue, but cozy enough to create an air of intimacy. There’s plenty of seating, a standing section up front for vivacious fans, a huge stage with plenty of room for just about any band, and a massive screen to integrate a video aspect to any live action experience. Avantasia, of course, caters to all types and made use of every single aspect of Patio Theater’s accommodations.

Tobias Sammet is known well across the music industry for his huge, theatrical projects integrating and highlighting world-class musicians in key vocal spots. From Edguy to Avantasia and beyond, Sammet has worked with metal giants including Michael Kiske, Amanda Somerville, Klaus Meine, Candice Night, Hansi Kursch, and Mille Petrozza; and that’s just musicians who didn’t appear on this tour.

Avantasia began the Tuesday evening show with the opening track from Moonglow, “Ghost in the Night,” which seems like an integral item to set the tone for a night of symphonic metal. However, when the second song, “Starlight,” starts which brought out Pretty MaidsRonnie Atkins, we all knew we were in for a special treat.

As the setlist went progressed with hits from across Avantasia’s catalog, more guests made themselves known; Jørn Lande (ex-Masterplan), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Bob Catley (Magnum), and Geoff Tate (ex-Queensrÿche) all had their opportunities to shine alone and with one another. Even backup vocalists Adrienne Cowan and Herbie Langhans had their time in the spotlight as the night went on.

With a 24-song setlist (available here), Avantasia played for over three magnificent hours. And we were grateful to capture epic, playful, and heartfelt moments in a room so full of immeasurable talent. Please enjoy the gallery below with choice shots from Avantasia’s first appearance in Chicago.