Review of Nightwish Gig at Brixton Academy
Instead of attending a firework display I spent my 5th November at the Brixton Academy watching the
symphonic metal group Nightwish. Combine the soundtracks of any Pirates of the Carribean and Lord
of the Rings films, sprinkle the result with gothic synths, metal riffs, female vocals then throw in some
Celtic folk tunes and you’ve pretty much got the idea… and it works very well!
Early last month Anette Olzon left the band and as such Floor Jansen from ReVamp had to bolt to
America last minute to fill in for the rest of the tour. This would make Floor the 3rd woman to front the
band and I’ve now had the pleasure of seeing all three of them live. Despite both groups being shoved
under the same genre, ReVamp is stylistically worlds apart from Nightwish so I was curious to see how
Floor would work with this sound.
After nearly 7 minutes of intro music (‘Roll Tide’ by Hans Zimmer should you be interested) the band
finally emerged and played straight into latest album opener ‘Storytime’. Brixton’s sound system is far
from the best in London but Nightwish delivered a near 2 hour set (that seemed to fly by in half the time)
with astonishingly high sound quality.
The band always creates a sense of camaraderie and fun on stage and its bassist/male vocalist Marco
that holds it all together. Original singer Tarja Turunen was a woman of few words and as such Marco
would handle the majority of audience interaction. Floor, like Anette before her, proved to be much more
talkative and the back and forth banter between frontman and woman was warming and playful. Floor
also encouraged the audience to sing with great results. Pint-sized guitarist Emppu was as charismatic as
ever running back and forth across the stage to ensure not a single member of the crowd was overlooked.
Fans of the old-era would’ve been disappointed as the extensive setlist consisted almost exclusively of
newer material. Out of seven studio records the first three didn’t get any representation at all, even classic
anthem ‘Wishmaster’ failed to make the cut. While I love all the albums I personally think the newer stuff
is the best they’ve ever made so for me there was little issue with the song selection.
Mid-set the band introduced Troy Donockley to the stage, a multi-instrumentalist that has become famous
amongst NW fans for featuring heavily on both the ‘Dark Passion Play’ and ‘Imaginaerum’ albums with his
uillean pipes. Troy played five songs with the band and his addition to new number ‘I Want My Tears
Back’ was a definite highlight.
Ok, so we’ve established the boys were great, they always are! The final variable was Floor. A friend of
mine came to a very definite decision before the end of the 2nd song:
“I fucking hope they keep her!”
Floor sang beautifully and didn’t miss a note all evening. Tarja was famous for being a classically trained
mezzo-soprano and Anette contrastingly sang with a much more approachable rock voice that perhaps
lacked the range but delivered more emotion, Floor displayed the rare ability to switch seamlessly
between both styles to accommodate every song. Be it the bombastic, operatic ‘Dark Chest Of Wonders’
or the softer, backing vocals on acoustic ballad ‘The Islander’, Floor can do it all! Standing at well
over 6’2” in heels she definitely creates a physical presence on stage (some of her fans have nicknamed
her ‘The Amazon’ presumably for that reason).
I did have two nitpicks with the show. Firstly the inclusion of the jazz number ‘Slow, Love, Slow’, while
I rate the song highly and had no issue with hearing it live apparently a lot of the audience didn’t agree.
The band seemed to lose the crowd’s attention with most people chatting amongst themselves through
the entire song or retreating to the bar. The overall disinterest broke the immersion for me, playing a jazz
song at a metal gig was always going to be a risk and I’m not convinced it paid off.
Second issue was a new acoustic arrangement of fan-favourite ‘Nemo’. This stripped down interpretation
differed greatly from the original and simply didn’t do the trick for me; that’s not to say it was bad but the
original is so much better. I’m all for experimentation but perhaps your most popular song isn’t the wisest
choice, play the hard rock version next time please!
Minor criticisms aside it was a truly fantastic show and probably the last the UK will see of Nightwish for
some time. Band leader/keyboardist Tuomas has stated he already has ideas for the next album but firstly
will embark on a solo project in 2013. Adding this to the complication that Nightwish currently lack a
full time singer it could be a while before we get a new record. Floor’s commitment to ReVamp would
suggest she won’t stay with Nightwish beyond this tour. However she has not ruled out the possibility of
joining full time when asked, simply saying the matter hasn’t been discussed yet and to wait and see what
the future brings!
Dark chest of wonders
Wish I had an angel
Slow, love, slow
I want my tears back (featuring Troy Donockley)
The islander (featuring Troy Donockley)
Nemo (featuring Troy Donockley)
Last of the wilds (featuring Troy Donockley)
Over the hills and far away (featuring Troy Donockley)
Ghost love score
Last ride of the day
Review by Al Westlake