Nightwish pictured recently or a roguish band of Steampunk bandidos? Who can say?
I went to see Nightwish last night in Manchester – they were sublime, needless to say.
This is the first time that UK fans have had a chance to see the band since they parted ways with previous singer Anette Olzon, with former After Forever and ReVamp singer Floor Jansen stepping into the proverbial breach and helping the band finish the rest of the dates on their “Imaginaerum” world jaunt. Some early reports on the US leg of the tour were mixed, but I strongly suspect we can put them down to allowing a new singer to learn a lot of material in a short time period, under pressure, in front of fans with very distinct ideas about how the songs should sound.
The show which Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I saw last night was fantastic and confirms that we should be very happy if Floor decides to stay with Nightwish for a while – she can certainly handle the more operatic, multi-octave material with original Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen was synonymous with and the more recent albums which Anette sang on hold no problems for Jansen either – she’s neither copying the vocal style of her predecessors or trying too hard to stamp her own identity onto the songs – she’s just singing them quite brilliantly.
Swedish purveyors of industrial/metal/sleaze tunes, Pain, were the opening band and they were…fine, I guess? The crowd got into them a lot more than I did, and certainly seemed to know more of the songs – I’ve heard their “Shut Your Mouth” on Spotify and it’s a decent tune, but much of their set last night blended into one unholy mush, thanks to one of the more unsympathetic sound mixes that I’ve encountered at a gig. Singer Peter Tägtgren was, by his own admission, having an off-night too and admitted that he had lost his voice somewhere between Stockholm and Manchester. A bad day at the office, as they say.
Nightwish, to be fair, didn’t get on any better with the Apollo’s mercurial sound system – a lot of the subtleties and musical texture of their songs were well and truly gobbled up somewhere ‘twixt stage and the circle seating where I was safely ensconced for the evening. Audio woes didn’t spoil the gig, though, and I was able to enjoy the band in what amounts to an intimate and up-close gig for them (in mainland Europe, Nightwish tend to play festivals, arenas and that size of venue).
My personal highlight was the section with the multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley – “I Want My Tears Back”/”The Islander“/“Nemo”/”Last of the Wilds” – which took the volume down a bit and amounted to an acoustic interlude and amply demonstrated just how versatile this band is and how diverse their sound can be. They’re nominally a metal band which has a vein of orchestral/soundtrack/score composition underpinning and complementing the massive riffs which are their stock in trade – this is almost certainly why I like them as you never know quite where the next song on an album will go.
Although, “Everything AND the kitchen sink” is a pretty good rule of thumb.
I enjoyed everything about the band’s performance – bassist Marco Hietala‘s gurning faces and eccentric on-stage banter, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen‘s apparent inability to stay still for more than a second, drummer Jukka Nevalainen‘s curious habit of hovering low over his drum skins (almost as though he’s talking to them) before starting a song, band leader Tuomas Holopainen‘s ‘lost in music’ reveries and sneaky quaffing from a bottle of vino between tunes – there’s a lot to love about Nightwish and going to see this film only made me love them more.
They play London tonight (5/11/2012), Birmingham on Tuesday and Glasgow on Wednesday this week. If you’re near any of those venues in the UK, I highly recommend a night out with Finland’s finest musical export.