Gerry Hectic

13:38 16th February 2005

It was more pavement block than roadblock on Saturday night as the queue for Nightwish snaked from Tottenham Court Road, through Soho Square and down to Oxford Street. Impressive for a 6.00pm start and a lesson learnt as even I didn’t get in for the start of the support act. Tristania are ‘the’ Norwegian symphonic metal band.  With two male vocalists and a female siren love interest, it’s an impressive front line.  The style is a mix of Napalm Death meets Joy Division and Kate Bush with satanic Gregorian chanting at the Coliseum.  They have been together as a band since 1997 and this showed in their well-presented performance.  They’ve got a monstrous bass sound and good computer programming for the atmospherics but it’s difficult to sign along to. Top tunes were ‘The Wretched’ and ‘Circus’ off the current album, 'Ashes'.

As you would imagine, the “Opera Metal” band from Finland, Nightwish make a dramatic entrance.  To the backdrop of a horror movie style soundtrack, first to emerge from the smoke and lights is Tuomas Holopainen (keyboards) followed by Jukka Nevalainen (Drums), Emppu Vuorinen (Guitar), Marco Hietala (Bass/Vocals) and finally female lead vocalist, Tarja Turunen.  Tarja is an impressive sight in a devil red top with matching all-red microphone.  They have been together a year longer than Tristania and are promoting their 5th album.  They opened the show with the powerful title track, Once.  In the studio, Tumas is the bandleader dominating the writing and production which is reminiscent of fellow countryman’s Ville Vallo’s iron grip on love-goth Metal band, HIM.  However, unlike Ville, for all Tumas’ pre-Raphaelite good looks, he doesn’t dominate the rest of the band on stage. Jukka has got a big kit but he doesn’t overdo it whilst still producing a mighty sound. Equally, the guitarists don’t go over the top. It is very balanced except for Tarja dominating vocals.

Not too impressed with their version of ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ but otherwise the overall affect is stunning.  Even the Pink Floyd cover when Marco took over vocal duties went down well with the crowd as Tarja took a well-earned rest off stage.  Tarja returned in what looked like a silk nighty and when the band took a break, she soloed with a version of a Finish folk tune, ‘Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan’ (put down yer lighters please).  But don’t forget this is still a Metal band and there’s a fair amount of head banding going on along with the Prog Rock.  The band comes back with a change of clothes and it’s all building up to the climax of ‘Nemo’ and ‘Wish I Had An Angel’ with a myriad of strobe lights and dry ice.  The girls on the balcony positioned above a draped Finish flag go mad and join in with their best operatic hand animations.

Comparisons with the likes of Meatloaf and Andrew Lloyd Webber don’t go down well with fans like FUB who came from Suffolk to see the show.  Those types of jibes are just mean and if as to prove it, the rest of the gigs on this Tour are mostly Sold Out. Check out Birmingham (15th), Glasgow (16th), Manchester (18th) and the Astoria (again, 19th Feb). Remember to get there early.