The Man-Eating Tree visited Joensuu for the first time in their career in the end of February while touring the country with Swallow the Sun. I’d seen (and photographed) TMET already once before during the summer, and was looking forward to seeing them again. For those who don’t know, TMET is one of the several bands to host Sentenced alumni. They were on stage with a slightly altered line-up, with guitarist Miika Pesonen filling in for Janne Markus.
I was slightly worried about the size of the crowd when they started playing since obviously most of the StS fans weren’t in the venue yet, but during the set it started filling up quite well and the crowd warmed up to them quite well. Obviously, from listening to the crowd comments before the gig despite having well known alumni in the band, TMET itself is still relatively unknown even in metal circles.
Shooting the gig was slightly challenging since there was no photo-pit and I got a spot fairly far to stage left the angel of view of most of the band, and especially the stationary keyboardist Heidi Määttä, was quite limited. Luckily the rest moved around enough and came to pose in front of the camera for a time or two. The lighting was fairly good, especially considering that the music is atmospheric metal and the lighting for the most part reflected this.
Just a quick note, but I finally watched an episode of Kelby Training’s D-Town due to Glyn Dewis’ recommendation and couldn’t pass up on sharing. In it, Zack Arias (who I greatly respect) says that he recently learned not to look for pretty girls to shoot when practicing various techniques or pursuing personal projects. Watch the video below (Zack’s interview starts at 08:25) for how he came to this conclusion, but do remember the ultimate lesson: find characters to shoot.
So, the other day Nightwish kicked off their European tour from their homebase in North Karelia with a arena sized gig. The band has come a long way from the first time my wife saw them in 1998 (at their fifth gig) to be performing to sold out arenas now. And at the same time many a thing has changed. For me, the underlying feeling after the evening was of melancholy and slight disappointment.
The thing is, that during the concert I finally figured out what has been my problem with Nightwish’s latest album, Imaginaerum: it is a soundtrack to a movie and not an album of independent songs or even a concept album of connected songs. Sure, making movie scores has always been Tuomas’ dream and in that he has – maybe – succeeded. Maybe since I haven’t seen the movie yet, for which the album is a soundtrack.
I kept wanting to see the story, as it seemed like the songs were missing a vital part of them – the visual story. For me, good album will have songs that stand alone without the need of other mediums filling up the story. It should be my mind that produces my own stories and emotions based on the song. With the latest album, it just does not happen. And I find it extremely worrisome that my favorite song from the whole album of a (ex-)metal band is the jazz-piece.
Sure, the whole concert was a visual spectacle filled with pyrotechnics, a huge screen projecting animations, and the largest stage ever built by a Finnish band. But those visuals were not enough to give the latest songs the needed substance.
And, now we come to the part I never thought I’d write, I truly wish that Nightwish would refrain from performing Tarja-era songs with Anette. While her voice fits in with the DPP and Imaginaerum songs, it lacks power even in those when performed live. And then when we get to the earlier songs it completely falls short, especially when contrasted with Marco’s powerful singing. In Friday’s gig Planet Hell got me enthusiastic for a moment, until Anette started singing and I honestly hoped the song would be over. And when the final song of the gig, Over the Hills and Far Away started with bagpipes and all on the stage I felt a moment of joy. Unfortunately, the joy crashed down with the vocals.
Despite it all, it was great to see how much Emppu, Jukka, Tuomas, and Marco enjoy being on stage with the new Nightwish. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jukka smile as much as he did while drumming and Emppu was running around the stage like the happy little boy that he always has been. But still, I can’t shake the feeling that this was an end of an era for me. Sure, I might find myself seeing them live still in the future – but the anticipation of a great musical experience is gone.
And I can’t help but feel disappointed that the opportunity to headbang is gone when Nightwish hits the stage. At least Poisonblack gave a rocking and solid performance when opening the stage. Ville Lahiala and crew were enough to keep me smiling through the Nightwish gig.