By Ally Urban
After 22 years of music making, internationally-acclaimed symphonic metal band Nightwish, hailing from Finland, has embarked on their seventh world tour. After taking the year 2017 off to relax and pursue other tasks, the Finns―and their “Flying Dutchwoman” Floor Jansen―have come back to bring their fans “Decades.” This nine month tour, supporting the release of their seventh compilation album of the same name, features a myriad of songs old and new; songs that have defined the band’s ethereal sound over the years.
A Nightwish fan since 2015, I was lucky enough to see them perform in 2016 on the second North American run of their “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” tour. After two years, I was able to see them play again live on Sunday, March 18 at “The Egg,” a venue that is apart of the Hart Theatre in Albany, New York. This show was the eighth out of 34 other shows scheduled for the North American leg of the tour. I had learned about the plans for the tour in summer of 2017, found out the dates in November and immediately purchased my ticket in December.
My experience at this venue was absolutely incredible. I’ve never actually been to a “sitting” metal concert; usually, everybody is crowded in a room, with a mosh pit up near the stage. Since I’m not the tallest person, it’s always a struggle for me to attend shows where I have to stand the entire time. The Egg, however, is a performing arts amphitheatre, consequently shaped like an egg on the outside. Although I had decided to stand up for the entire show (headbanging, of course), the distance to the stage and the viewpoint from my seat were wonderful.
At around 8 p.m., I sat in my seat, clutching the complimentary “Decades” CD I had received at the door. I eagerly waited for Nightwish to take the stage. At around 8:30 p.m., the lights went dark, and “Swanheart”, a song off of the album Oceanborn, began to play. Troy Donockley, uilleann-pipes player and full time member since 2013, calmly walked out onto the stage and took his position. After soloing a snippet of the song on his pipes, the rest of the members emerged from behind the curtains; Tuomas Holopainen, keyboardist, Emppu Vuorinen, guitarist, Marco Hietala, bassist, Kai Hahto, drummer (temporarily replacing Jukka Nevalainen), and finally Floor Jansen, vocalist.
The band kicked off the setlist with “End of All Hope,” a track off of their 2004 album Century Child. This album, along with Oceanborn, are among my personal favourites. 15 out of the 19 songs on this setlist had been pulled from the first five albums―Angels Fall First (1996), Oceanborn (1998), Wishmaster (2000), Century Child (2004), and Once (2005). The album’s released in this era featured Nightwish’s first vocalist, Tarja Turunen. Although I love all eight Nightwish albums, most of my favorite songs come from their earlier days. Their setlist contained a balanced mixture of songs from these first five albums, as well as featuring a few songs from Imaginaerum (2013, with Anette Olzon), and Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2015, with Floor Jansen). Additionally, the band played a cover of the traditional folk song, Elvenjig. I was a bit sad to see that “Sleeping Sun” and “Stargazers” didn’t make the cut into the setlist but it was a brilliant surprise when “Deep Silent Complete” began to play about a third of the way into the show.
Naturally, everybody played and sang flawlessly―in stark contrast to my own terrible singing as I sang along. Floor’s stage presence was commanding and powerful, and Tuomas expended all his musical genius upon his Korgs in the left corner of the stage. Vuorinen and Hietala wandered around, often duelling musically throughout the set, and Donockley’s pipe skills were on point. Hahto, who is also the drummer for the band Wintersun, was excellent, per usual. He’s a solid temporary replacement for Jukka.
The entire atmosphere at the venue was radiant and uplifting, from the energy of the band and the audience, to the incredible light-show and ever-changing background screen on stage. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend many concerts in the past couple years but there’s something about attending a Nightwish show that simply makes one feel like they’re at the top of the world. Nothing could have ruined that hour and a half window of time during which the band took us back into their history.
Before I knew it, they had begun to play “Ghost Love Score,” a ten-minute epic ballad from the album Once. This song is probably my favorite for two reasons: it was the first song I had ever heard by Nightwish, and it’s an absolute masterpiece―powerful, enchanting, and overall a solid representation of the band in one song. I always recommend first-time listeners to look it up on YouTube. It was a really good pick to end the night with. I left the arena temporarily deaf, and had lost most of my voice from “singing,” but I’ll never forget the memories of this awe-inspiring show that I had the privilege to attend. I listen to many bands, but Nightwish will forever be my favorite. ‘The age will [certainly] say “This night was ours.”