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.