BY: Pekka Konttinen
Every Finn knows the infamous cruises to Tallinn or Stockholm. Lots of drunken people, crappy buffet food and even worse house bands performing evergreen tangos to the seniors. Luckily sometimes there’s a few good exceptions to the formula and these nights were one of those. In last September Nightwish announced that they will be doing two concerts on the cruise ship from Turku to Stockholm. Both nights were sold out really fast but luckily we got a cabin for the second night.
When we arrived at Turku harbour I saw lots of dark wearing people coming out of the ship. They all looked exhausted, but still had the biggest smile on their faces. I knew this cruise would be fantastic. The theme for the trip was already set in the terminal. The front wall of the terminal was covered with a huge backdrop (or ad) from the Imaginaerum era. Inside troubadour Bryn Jones was performing acoustic covers while everybody was waiting impatiently to board the ship. Soon the cleaners came out and we got onboard.
Before the main event there was time to get something to eat and do a little shopping. The waiter at the restaurant gave us a little “inside tip”. Last night there were so much people that they had some difficulties to fit them all in the nightclub where Nightwish was performing. Obviously we wanted a good spot to see the show. We decided to cut some preparing and head there early.
We went to the nightclub about 1,5 hours before. Some DJ’s made waiting more tolerable by playing rock and metal hits from bands like Judas Priest and Rammstein. There were a few rows of people standing in front of the stage and more people were coming in. We got a good spot relatively close to the stage. I especially wanted to see Jukka Nevalainen’s replacement Kai Hahto as close as possible.
Nightwish released their newest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful in March and I’ve been listening it more regularly than the two albums before it. The Darwinian evolution theme on the record ties the songs together nicely. Best moments of the album are the first two songs and the epic 24 minute long finale.
The concert started with the album opener Shudder Before the Beautiful and was followed with Yours Is an Empty Hope. After that it was a mix of new songs (Elan, Weak Fantasy, My Walden), hits (Amaranth, Ever Dream, Storytime) and not-so-hits (Romanticide, 7 Days To The Wolves) from the current and couple of previous records. Halfway through we got one of the high peaks of the concert when a teaser to Wishmaster started playing. The crowd went bananas and sang the whole song through so loudly that I couldn’t even hear Floor Jansen singing. Couple of oldies were also served with Stargazers and Sleeping Sun. I read somewhere that Floor herself requested to take Sleeping Sun back in the setlist. After that it was the time for my personal high peak of the night. The Greatest Show on Earth and Ghost Love Score. I was a bit bummed out because the first one was shortened when compared to the album version. But that was forgotten quickly because it still was awesome. “We were here!” -chants sent shivers down my spine. And so did the last part of Ghost Love Score when Floor gets to use her vocal chords to the max. Chills every time. The concert ended with the familiar ending of Last Ride of the Day.
After the two hour concert we headed to the front of the ship where Steve’n’Seagulls started playing. Steve’n’Seagulls plays rock and metal covers in a hillbilly-bluegrass-style. They have gotten famous relatively quickly and are doing a lot of gigs. They will be playing even in Wacken Open Air for four days! I think they were absolutely brilliant. And the audience seemed to have really fun. After that it was time to hit the bed.
After a quick breakfast we headed to the back of the ship where a Nightwish related quiz was starting. The prize was a pass to meet & greet the band. Overall the questions were easy, but there were few harder ones that required knowledge or luck. I was a bit annoyed when I noticed that half of the people were using their phones to cheat. Then there was a Nightwish bingo (yep, you read it right) with more meet & greet passes as a prize.
The main event for the second day was an acoustic gig by Marco Hietala and Troy Donockley. They started their show by performing Money by Pink Floyd and Wonderful Life by Black. After that Kai Hahto joined them on stage with some percussion and they performed Ace of Spades together. For the remaining few songs Floor Jansen joined them on stage. Now as quartet they performed Alone by Heart and Edema Ruh. I saw that Tuomas (Holopainen) and Emppu (Vuorinen) were watching them from the VIP area and especially Tuomas really seemed to enjoy the set.
After that the cruise was almost over. I’m really glad I got to be a part of this fantastic trip. It’s been awhile since Nightwish has played on a smaller stage in Finland. It was a refreshing change compared to the big outdoor stadium gigs (not that there’s anything wrong with those). The band performed perfectly and really seemed to enjoy this special occasion. And so did I.