I have a confession to make: I’m the least likely person to drive 5 hours (both ways) to get to a Nightwish concert. Sure, I drove 2 hours to Quebec City for their show in 2009, but I really went to see Iced Earth, who were the special guests that night. And I actually left before Nightwish played a single note. They weren’t my cup of tea, and Iced Earth was so perfect that day that I chose to end the night on that memory.
Fast forward to now, and Nightwish has a new singer, Floor Jansen (ReVamp and After Forever) and a new album (reviewed favourably here). The old material sounds better Jansen’s more metal voice, their music seems to have risen to a new level, and I like it. Enough to drive down to Worcester when a Montreal show won’t happen until February 2016.
My girlfriend and I made our way to the Palladium about an hour before the doors were scheduled to open for the sold out show. Already the line was snaking down the corner, down the block, then down the other way, and halfway back up the block on the other side! Most people were dressed very lightly, and the chilly temperature made it for an uncomfortable wait for most people. Once the doors opened, the line was almost twice as long as it was when we arrived, but it moved quickly and we were inside about 15 minutes before showtime. The Palladium is a little confusing when you enter it for the first time, and since it is build on a slope, you actually enter the building at the balcony level. We found a couple of seats in the middle and decided to avoid the floor entirely.
Delain quickly came on stage, and got a great welcome from the crowd. I’ve raved about them when they came toured with Sonata Arctica and with Kamelot, and they were on fire again. As the first of 3 bands they didn’t have much room on stage, and it seemed to cramp their game a little. (And for whatever reason, they played in very low light) Through their short but tight 7 song set, singer Charlotte Wessels played the role of opening act to perfection, reminding people that Sabaton and Nightwish would be up next, eliciting roars from the crowd. The material played was picked from their best and most of the crowd was really into them. The too short set ended on a high note with the excellent “We Are the Others”.
They curiously left off “The Gathering”, which is probably their most “commercial” song, but it’s not easy to settle on just 7 songs. These guys really deserve better than a third slot on a tour, as they’re a great band. The saddest thing is that for the last two years I’ve been saying they need to do a headline show in North America, and they eventually booked an off date show in Montreal the day after this one. But because I traveled for this show, I couldn’t make it. Oh, the irony.
They were quickly followed by Sabaton. These guys explode on stage, with an energy that recalls the heyday of Iron Maiden. They made the small stage appear twice as large, and offered their brand of bombastic metal (with lyrics on a wide variety of topics like war, warfare, tanks, combat, soldiers, etc) in a super tight 10 song set. The band’s sense of humour was evident throughout, with singer Joakim Brodén offering constant self effacing jokes. “We are Sabaton from Sweden. Yes, there is more to Sweden than ABBA and IKEA. For example, there is also a metal band (points to their camouflage pants) that dresses like the Village People”. Their music may stick to one formula, but they’re such a joy to see on stage that I wouldn’t have it any other way. The big choruses are meant for singing along, and the crowd often broke into chants of “SA-BA-TON!”. From the opening song “Ghost Division” to the closer “Metal Crüe”, they had their pedal to the metal (pun intended) and gave a high energy show. What a fantastic live band.
Then came time for the main event, Nightwish. By that time the crowd was pumped and ready to go! A large chunk of the setlist was devoted to their latest album, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” and despite having been released only recently, the crowd was already very familiar with its material. It’s never easy for a band to change singers, but newcomer Floor Jansen was given a huge welcome ovation, as the fans have obviously embraced her already. Her vocals effortlessly navigated between metal and operatic, and she pumped new life into the material originally sung by her two predecessors, while confidently claiming her spot as the voice of Nightwish with the new songs. Her powerful voice really brings a whole new dimension to the band that has transformed them, as far as I’m concerned.
Most of the material came from the last three albums, but the band pulled out two tracks from the “Oceanborn” album that hadn’t been played in a quite a long time, “Stargazers” and “Sleeping Sun”. Founder and leader Tuomas Holopainen looked on from being his keyboards, making everything look easy. Bassist Marco Hietala brought a harder edged voice to contrast with Jansen’s, while Troy Donockley’s Uilleann pipes bring a unique sound to Nightwish that really makes them stand out in the symphonic metal genre. The show did not rely on artifice, instead focusing on the music which was played to perfection. Classic tracks like “Nemo”, “Amaranth”, “Storytime” (a highlight of the show) and “I Want My Tears Back” were met with roars of approval by the devoted fans in attendance.
The band ended their set with the middle section of their latest epic, “The Greatest Show on Earth”, before playing a fantastic two song encore of “Ghost Love Score”, on which Jansen’s performance gave goosebumps, and the appropriately titled “Last Ride of the Day” to end the evening.
Could this album and tour be the second coming of Nightwish? It might very well get them to the next level. Let’s hope the band releases a live album of this tour.
I’m used to seeing The Palladium on tour itineraries, but this was my first is it to Worcester. The Palladium is an old theater built in 1928 as the Plymouth Theater. It has hosted metal and rock shows since around 2000, but little work has been done to preserve the building since it opened almost a century ago, and as a result, it is now in an advanced state of disrepair, a situation similar to the Warfield in San Francisco. In the last few years, the owners even asked the city for permission to demolish it, but right now a fund raising drive is underway to restore it, so hopefully it stays open, and continues being a staple on tour itineraries for rock and metal bands.
The crowd was also fantastic, with people showing respect for the people around them. As we were waiting in line, a late comer offered 10$ to whomever let him cut in line. To my surprise, no one took him up on his offer! Good on you Worcester.
Get the Devil Out of Me
Army of Dolls
We Are the Others
To Hell and Back
Soldier of 3 Armies
Resist and Bite
Shudder Before the Beautiful
Yours Is an Empty Hope
She Is My Sin
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
I Want My Tears Back
The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapters II: Life & III: The Toolmaker)
Ghost Love Score
Last Ride of the Day
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