Friday September 21st the Finnish symphonic power house known as Nightwish visited Newport Music Hall and from the mile long lines it looked like the whole city knew about it. To ever question their drawing power on these Yankee shores would be a grave underestimation of their style and reputation. Maybe it’s the mystery and mystique of singer Anette Olzen that brought out curiosity seekers. I’m sure some long time diehards wanted to compare/size her up to former, long time operatic lunged founding member/singer Tarja Turunen. But fans can rest assured that though their a worlds difference apart in style, Olzen’s own unique voice holds weight backing up the classics as well as her own. It was a night of majestic story telling by both bands.
Tampa’s power metal conceptual kings Kamelot opened the show walking out to an absolute frenzy of screaming/shrieking voices. Although three members are American and one German, thanks to their new singer Tommy Karevik they were welcomed as Swedish royalty. A night of eternal/infernal majesty was to be had by all. They played choice cuts from several storyline records turning Newport into a medieval ballroom fit for a mad hatters masquerade party. They Rule the World with the first note starting with a double deceased dose of Ghost Opera with Euro-siren Amanda Somerville standing tall above. Karevik takes the crowd in his hand, a black and leather clad Maestro who from a fine ladies POV is ‘smokin’ hot, makes full use of the stage furniture. We then go to The Center of the Universe. We return to the opera and learn the value of life on earth as The Human Stain. He does a manual crowd sound check and When the Lights Are Down the eternal darkness and illusion of Mephisto awaits in the Dark Halo. Then it was time to celebrate this years new CD Silverthorn with Sacrimony, their third concept album, with deep lavender locked guest vocalist Alissa White-Gluz from The Agonist screeching out the voice of 19th Century main character Jolee and Elize Ryd providing the clean soothing delivery. Be careful what you do in this life because Forever’s a long time to deal with Karma. Gluz reappears stepping into Shagrath’s dastardly evil boots and leaves us with the conniving March of Mephisto. Silverthorn will be released October 30th.
Formed in 1996, Nightwish were one of the first operatic style metal bands to use a female lead singer. Earning a steadfast/loyal home country following they achieved worldwide success in the late 80’s/early 90’s when 2004’s Once brought them their biggest US single Wish I Had an Angel. In 2005 Tarja was dismissed by open band letter for reasons heavily disputed. A long search commenced searching for a new perfect voice. Over 2000 demos later they decided on Alyson Avenue singer Olzen. The band released two singles Eva and Amaranth, to satisfy/wet fans appetite/curiosity accompanied by videos for Amaranth and another track The Islander. There 6th record 2007’s Dark Passion Play was released. This tour brings us the new conceptual juggernaut Imaginaerum who’s narrative tells us about an aging composer on his deathbed taking a trip back to his youth. A same titled movie version with similar story and themes is being made by The Islander director Stobe Harju.
They played a nice long theatrical showcase of crowd favorites, choice cuts from Dark Passion Play and a few new stories from Imaginaerum to captivate the mind and please the ear. The lights went out over the full moon, casting illumination over the old man’s childhood dream-scape. The bagpipes played as the crowd unleashed a deafening roar, its night wish of incredible symphonic metal story telling mastery and macabre answered. It was indeed Storytime, a lyrical and visual journey back in time to Never Never Land inside a childlike dream imperium. The first of Tarja’s tunes Wish I Had an Angel was greeted with great applause and enthusiasm for anyone ear judging. Olzen cranked out her introduction to fans on Amaranth. Then delivered the nights next bedtime Scaretale with its icy witches cackle and vocal taunts, filled with fiendish monstrosities and creepy crawly nightmare creatures reaching out with a crooked old vultures hand inviting the kids into the dark carnival with a tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. Lyrically it’s been called Nightwish’s ‘Enter Sandman.’ Speaking of creatures of the night we return to The Dark Passion Play for 7 Days to the Wolves. We then cross time and space to a 1930’s era jazz club on the Twin Peaks side of town for a Slow Love Slow and sexy sit down sing along. Guest instrumentalist Troy Donockley comes out to play the pipes on the next five tunes. For every fan that’s been seduced,smitten or fallen for Olzen’s voice they all say the same thing. I WANT MY TEARS BACK! The slower animalistic ballad The Crow The Owl and The Dove flies over the Imaginaerum then we sit/stand around the fire as The Islander tells us an old man’s salty sea’s story bathed in the tranquil glow of cell phones and a few bic flames. The crowd wished for soothing rain and to dream again and thus Nemo came. Olzen gets a break on Last of the Wilds while the flute holds its own against 3 guitars, drums and a keyboard. The final act begins as we take a trip ‘Once’ to the burning world of our dark mistress to worship on Planet Hell taking an escape flight down the deadly Ghostriver but while we’re there we’re tempted to open a Dark Chest of Wonders with really weird things in it. From there they take us Over the Hills and Far Away, skipping over prison we take a second to last ride with Walt Whitman singing a long written Song of Myself hitting you with an ending sledge hammer with bells bombast. Then with the midnight hour approaching, dark clouds loom over the last dim lights of the Imaginaerum, it’s creaky doors slowly clank closed and the last of the evenings passengers strap in for The Last Ride of the Day on tracks that never end.
The nights collection of innocent childhood memories, dark fantasy and musical ambiance fade away as the stage lights go out. Songwriter/keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen brings out sonic sound, the songs of angels and the breathe of the gods through his fingers. Gandolf looking Marco Hietala brings out the devil in his bass playing the creepy comical sideshow ringmaster to perfection. Emppu Vuorinen brought out the heaviest sounds and driving guitar narrative carrying the weight of such huge conceptual ideas and melodies. Jukka Nevalainen kept the beats pounding at a storied pace never letting the fans eyes drift off the proverbial page. Nightwish is a moving musical tapestry. We’ve all heard the term deafening crowd but for a venue it’s size, and the bands playing, I’ve rarely heard a crowd that loud.
If your curious about the movie it’s Finnish release is slated for November and loosely follows the storyline of the record. The first single released Storytime is a lyrical representation of the whole record and a cinematic video previewing characters and plot ideas from both can be seen on Youtube.
Special thanks to Lauryn Campanell for set list information.