Nightwish is a symphonic metal band from Finland with a truly cult like following. I was super surprised when I got to the door of The Myth to find there was no line. I started worrying that there was no one at the show but the full parking lot had me confused. After I breezed through security, got my ticket scanned and received my free copy of Nightwish’s new best of release entitled “Decades” (yeah, free CD… that made my night. Long live the CD!), I entered the venue to realize that this show was far from empty. Although it was still a half an hour until show time, the floor was packed with people who were clearly anxious to see this international act.
Fifteen minutes before the show was supposed to start, a very faint sound of ambient music started rolling out of the speakers. As time went on, the ambient sounds grew louder and the occasional nose ring rattling bass drops became more frequent. The growing excitement coming from the speakers matched the growing anticipation in the air from the fans. Although there was still nearly ten minutes before the band was due to take the stage, audience members were cheering as if the band had already been spotted. At three minutes left before the 8:30 set time, a voice came through the speakers explaining that this show will be almost like a time traveling adventure. The male voice explained that everyone in the venue would be traveling back to a time when there were no cell phones and people went to concert just to enjoy the show rather than take wobbly cell phone footage that nobody would watch when posted on social media. I did like the way they approached this. They didn’t go all Jack White on the crowd and forbid cellphones altogether, they merely urged people to be there, in the moment, in real life… not on a phone. After the spiel, the giant screen at the back of the stage turned into a steampunk styled countdown. As the minute counted down, the crowd started to count the seconds with a sense of pure elation.
3, 2, 1… the lights went dark except for a single spotlight on Troy Donockley who kicked off the show with a beautiful flute solo that quickly moved to Uilleann pipes (an electric bagpipe looking instrument that has a sound that instantly transports you to your local Renaissance fair). After the alluring solo, the rest of the group took the stage to a roar of applause from the crowd. Wasting no time at all, vocalist Floor Jansen grabbed the microphone and the group jumped into what would turn into a staggering two hour set. Although the excitement was still prominent in the atmosphere, there was a hush that came over the crowd as the band kicked in. It was clear that people were going to relish in every single moment of this band’s set and they weren’t going to miss a single note or word.
Nightwish has been a group since the mid 1990’s. With eight full-length albums, they definitely have warranted releasing “Decades” – the best of album that some fans got when entering the show. Their set reflected their many releases and phases of this band. Even though every song of theirs is a song that is distinctively theirs, playing songs spanning their entire existence and not doing it in order of release date gave a very nice look into the true creativity of this band. No two songs sounded the same and there were elements that seemed particular to each song. One thing that never changed was the sheer vocal talent of Floor. I mean, wow. Love or hate this band, there’s no denying her talent. It was enough to have my jaw on the ground. I watched in awe as she flawlessly sang through the extensive set all the while with a fan elegantly blowing her long hair behind her.
Even though Nightwish are huge in their scene, I really appreciated the way that their show wasn’t over the top in any way, shape or form. The group may be on their way to legendary status (if they haven’t already gotten there), but they didn’t show it. Their modest stage show left fans without anything to distract them from the music and pure talent of the musicians on stage. Whether you were watching Floor as she hit nearly ever note on a keyboard, or watching founding member Emppu Vuorinen as he shred the guitar, there was a sense of excitement that came over you from just watching. All of the band members were clearly having fun and loving what they were doing and that helped make me, someone who wouldn’t necessarily call herself a fan, enjoy their set and walk away with a new appreciation for them.