Once I had a dream… to get a ticket to see Nightwish as a (pre)birthday present and this dream came true for the second time in my life.
But what I didn’t know was that all three Nightwish concerts that I attended would start with the same song, some 13-14 years apart. Yes, this is how long it took to see them live again, 13 years. Nightwish is the first international artist that I saw live, the first real metal concert that I went to. I saw them live twice in Romania, when they still had Tarja as a leading lady. The previous time I saw them it was 2005. The latest time I saw them was last evening, this time with Floor Jansen leading the show. This involved another trip to Gothenburg and I should say that I enjoy going there for rock concerts, I totally recommend it, it’s a totally different vibe compared to Stockholm.
Now, if my train hadn’t been delayed I would have listened to more than two songs of the opening act, Beast in Black, and I would have probably had a proper dinner too. Since SJ decided to leave Stockholm 20 minutes later than the scheduled time and lose some other 40 on the way, well, I am happy I actually got to the concert. This started with a plea to ignore our phones for at least two hours, to stop being slaves to mobile devices while nearly everybody was filming it with their phones. That plea was a bit pointless because the moment the music started it was so hypnotising that it was easy to keep the phone away and just enjoy.
By random I bought a ticket that got me really close to the stage so I didn’t need to watch the screens to see the reactions of those on the stage. While “Dark Chest of Wonders” was blasting all across Partille Arena, while all eyes were on Floor who is an extraordinary leading lady, I kept looking at Tuomas, the keyboard player, just to see how he sings along with her, though he had no microphone, how he looks at the audience and how he smiles. I swear that man breathes music and his life depends on it, and I don’t mean it from a financial perspective.
I kept myself from checking the setlist of the concert before the show, just to keep the element of surprise there. The second song was “Wish I Had an Angel” from the same album as the opening one, both songs from the Tarja era. For those who don’t know, Tarja is an icon of symphonic metal, a soprano and used to be a very charismatic figure when she was singing in Nightwish. Walking in her shoes is hard business but it doesn’t seem to be so for Floor. She nails Tarja’s songs, rocks the ones the band recorded with her and makes the ones they recorded with Anette Olzon sound metal, not just rock, to put it nicely, because I’ve never seen Nightwish live when Anette was their voice. Yet some of the best received tracks were from the Anette-era of Nightwish so now I am a bit sorry I don’t have this point of reference when talking about this band. I will not go through all their setlist because that would involve writing a whole novel. I was very happy that they played so many songs I liked, yet at the end of the show I started counting the ones I wanted to hear but didn’t make it in the live performance (like “Bless the Child”, for example).
One by one Nigtwish made us sing, dance, jump, scream, clap and enjoy the beautiful heavy metal music. Every song they play has either an instrumental bit that is to die for or some lyrics that get stuck in my head. The harmony of the tune and the beauty of the verses blend together to create what can be simply described as Nightwish. Whoever knows this kind of music probably understands what I am talking about. Lines like “Think of me long enough to make a memory” or “Without you the poetry within me is dead” are sprinkled, alongside many others, throughout their songs and most often they get lost in the background of the tracks they belong to, but not to the listener. And the listener in me was dying to hear “Ghost Love Score” live. And, as expected, they ended the concert with that track. The beginning was like an explosion, the joy of hearing it soon turned into the sadness of realising that it is time to go home but those 10 minutes were worth, to me at least, more than the whole two hours that passed until that moment. It’s the height of Tuomas’s merits as composer both musically and lyrically and it’s the song that got Nightwish fans asking themselves “Tarja who?” the moment Floor rocked this track to pieces when performing it live.
What more can I say? I would say go see them live if you have the chance and enjoy this genre of music. What else can I say? I have no idea when the two hours of the concert went away, it seemed like I just walked in and all of a sudden it was time to go. It’s not the type of concert I’d like company to, but yet again concerts are my thing and the number of people I like sharing this experience with is very low. It’s not entertainment, it’s a way of life.