Apocalyptica performs Metallica songs on cellos.

Apocalyptica performs Metallica songs on cellos. Credit: Christian Ripkens

The Beatles and Metallica are on opposite ends of the music spectrum, but both bands’ sound is clearly defined. Add a twist to each catalog and a whole new perspective arises. You can catch Metallica tunes performed with cellos instead of guitars at NYCB Theatre at Westbury May 31, while Beatles songs get played with a blues style at the Boulton Center in Bay Shore June 2.


The cello has never been considered a heavy metal instrument, but this band from Finland has changed the game.

“We grew up metal fans but we took cello because it was the instrument we were able to play,” says Eicca Toppinen, 42. “In the beginning, we did it for fun, playing at small student parties just because we loved the music.”

The band drew attention with its 1996 debut album, “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos.” Six months after its release, Metallica summoned Apocalyptica to open for them.

“They really loved our stuff and we became friends,” Toppinen says. “Sharing the stage with them is amazing. They have been our biggest influence.”

Today, the band typically plays all original music but this year’s tour is an old-school flashback to its humble beginnings.

Blues Beatles perform Beatles songs in a blues style.

Blues Beatles perform Beatles songs in a blues style. Credit: Jennifer Mercurio

“This is like a concept tour getting back to our roots,” Toppinen says. “We wanted to play the first album like it was recorded in the old-school way.”

Despite the band’s classical approach, they still wear long hair, dress in black T-shirts and jeans and head-bang to the music.

“We take the audience on a journey,” Toppinen says. “The set list ranges from beautiful ballads like ‘The Unforgiven’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ to extreme heavy, fast tunes like ‘Battery’ or ‘Fight Fire With Fire,’ plus everything in between.”

The first set features Toppinen, plus three other cellists — Perttu Kivilaakso, Paavo Lötjönen and Antero Manninen — seated, performing their first album in its entirety and including “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets” and “Creeping Death.”

Blues Beatles perform Beatles songs in a blues style.

Blues Beatles perform Beatles songs in a blues style. Credit: Jennifer Mercurio

After an intermission, the band takes things up a notch by removing their chairs and adding drummer Mikko Sirén.

“We draw all kinds of people from hard-core metal heads to classical people,” Toppinen says. “By the end of the show everyone is standing, singing and shouting. It’s a big fiesta.”

INFO 8 p.m. May 31, NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., $25-$50, 516-247-5200, thetheatreatwestbury.com   


Blending the Beatles with Chicago-style blues is the unique cocktail that this group from Brazil serves. Surprisingly, the whole concept came by accident.

“It all started at the rehearsals of an original band we had in 2013 called Today. During the breaks for a coffee, our singer Marcos Viana would take the acoustic guitar and play some Beatles songs,” says drummer Fred Barley, 44. “One day our guitar player Lancaster Ferreira asked Marcos if they could turn some Beatles songs into a ‘bluesy’ thing for fun, and it just worked.”

For the past two years, the band has been transforming Beatles classics into blues versions. “A Hard Day’s Night” starts with a boogie-woogie piano building into a full romp, and “Eleanor Rigby” gets peppered with groove drums and funky keyboards.

“I hope we can present The Beatles’ legacy to a new audience,” Barley says. “It also keeps their wonderful music alive, in our fresh blues arrangements.”

The band plays classics such as “Yellow Submarine” and “Help!” but also throws in b-sides like “The Word” and “One After 909.”

In concert, they dress in coordinated style as the Beatles did in their early days — but with a modern twist of black suits with red neckties and red Converse sneakers. A self-titled album was released last year.

“The reactions are always surprising,” Barley says. “Many die-hard Beatles fans who don’t like changes in Beatles songs say to us, ‘what you do is good.’ Then there are people who love the blues and after experiencing our concert start discovering Beatles songs.”

INFO 8 p.m. June 2, Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 W. Main St., Bay Shore, $45-$50, 631-969-1101, boultoncenter.org

Top Stories