BY: PEKKA KONTTINEN
Nightwish is hands down the biggest band in Finland. Nowadays they don’t do too many concerts in over here. This summer my home city Tampere had the honour to be the place for the biggest concert of Nightwish in Finland (so far). And they even brought along Sonata Arctica and Children of Bodom. And it was all filmed for a blu-ray release!
Sonata Arctica was the opener for the evening. This is a band you either love or hate. Personally I belong to the latter group. This was the first time i saw them live although they’ve been around as long as Nightwish has. During their show my colleague was kind enough to tell me which of the songs were the “golden oldies” and I also recognized some of the bigger hits like Tallulah and Don’t Say A Word. I was told that the second to last song Destruction Preventer was a nice and rare surprise and it was obvious that the audience thought so too.
The band sounded good and performed well but something with the vocalist Tony Kakko rubs me the wrong way so hard I can’t really enjoy them. Tony could tone down the theatrics and use less eye makeup. That could make wonders. It was obvious that Sonata Arctica was a right choice for this evening because they share the fanbase with Nightwish fans. Even though they had an early spot there were quite a lot of people watching and enjoying them. And that is a good sign in this promised land of late performance times.
Children Of Bodom decided to go with a mix of their greatest hits from the earlier years. And I can’t complain about that. My knowledge about Bodom’s material ends in the 2005 Are You Dead Yet? album. And on friday it was enough because there were only two newer songs in the middle of the setlist and both of them were from the 2013 album Halo Of Blood. The set started with Are You Dead Yet? and quickly continued to Sixpounder and Hate Me. Downfall and In Your Face at the end made sure that everyone was left satisfied and out of their breath.
Bodom suffered from the same problem as Sonata Arctica: the stage was way too big. Obviously that wasn’t their fault but this showed perfectly how both of them would be much better in a big club. CoB-fans got hit by sad news in May when announced that guitarist Roope Latvala is leaving the band and is going to be replaced for the summer with Antti Wirman who’s keyboardist Janne Wirmans brother. From my point of view he played well and I couldn’t find a reason for him not to continue with CoB after the summer gigs are done. One point Janne told the audience that in the beginning of CoB and Nightwish they shared the same gig seller who told that both of those bands wouldn’t never be anything. I hope they reserved a front seat place for him.
After CoB’s performance the stadium was practically full. Presenter Heta Hyttinen told us that there were 23 000 sold tickets. The place was packed.
Finally it was time for Nightwish to start their show. And I can’t underline the word show enough. Bombs blazing they started the evening with Shudder Before The Beautiful and Yours Is An Empty Hope from their latest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. The set quickly continued with Amaranth for the casual listeners and She Is My Sin for the veteran fans. After these everybody in the audience was on board. In the middle Marco Hietala had an acoustic solo spot with The Islander where eventually rest of the band joined in. After that it was mainly songs from the EFMB album along with a couple of radio hits. Older fans had another treat with Stargazers which was followed by Sleeping Sun. As you would guess, the most epic part of the setlist was reserved to the end. Ghost Love Score has always been one of highlights for me personally and this time in the twilight of the Finnish summer evening it was better than ever. Last Ride Of The Day hasn’t been my favourites but the current singer Floor Jansen makes the song so much better by taking it on a whole new level. The last spot was reserved for the most epic song of the Nightwish catalog: The Greatest Show On Earth. You could imagine that it’s not easy to end with 23 minutes long overture to the diversity of life but personally I couldn’t imagine any other song to end the night. “We were here” -shouts in the end sent shivers down my spine that didn’t vanish for a few days. Obviously the song and the concert ended with huge fireworks.
The evening was filled with lots of lights, bombs, flames, fireworks, smoke and confetti. Every song had carefully designed visual effects. It was a spectacle from the first note to the last firework. I could place a bet on the fact that we saw the most happiest and most satisfied Nightwish so far. The band plays so well together and clearly seemed to enjoy every second of the show. The biggest star of the night was Floor Jansen. She has the right amount of everything to be on front of the band. Soft vocals? Easy peasy. Hard opera vocals? Not a problem. When Anette Olzon was in a band, she blended in with all the guys. Floor shines through and leaves the rest of the band behind her. I also have to give praise to the drummer Kai Hahto who replaced Jukka Nevalainen when he announced to step aside for medical reasons until further notice. He really is an awesome player and can make the songs sound tight but still really airy even though he plays on a backtrack. Personally I wouldn’t mind if Kai stayed with Nightwish forever.