GIG REVIEW: NIGHTWISH & BEAST IN BLACK Live at The SSE Areana, Wembley, London
Three years since their last London show, Nightwish returned to Wembley Arena with their ‘DECADES: WORLD TOUR 2018’ to take us a trip down memory lane featuring rarely heard material from the earlier era, such as “Come Cover Me” and “Dead Boy’s Poem”. And what a journey it was!
The night kicked off with the Helsinki based heavy metal quintet Beast in Black which seems to be gaining momentum since being signed by Nuclear Blast a couple of years ago. An unlikely opener for the evening, the band descended on stage with the enthusiasm which can only be found in a newly founded power metal band. The band, which is the brainchild of former Battle Beast guitarist Anton Kabanen, had it all: Duelling guitar solos, plenty of key changes and keyboards and a singer who can shatter eardrums with his pipes. Yannis Papadopoulos roamed and jumped around hitting the highest of notes with ease while he went through all of the cheesy choruses the crowd may had ever desired.
From “Blood of a Lion” to “Berserker”, no one could deny the band’s talent and ability to deliver a tight performance, however their delivery left something to be desired. Admittedly, they didn’t have the best sound, a muddy mix meant that not all instruments were shining through at all times. They gave everything they had to give but a piece of the puzzle seemed to be missing or perhaps there was one extra that didn’t quite fit in. The band’s live performance was caught somewhere between Hammerfall, Sabaton and an 80s rock band that never quite made it leaving behind a mixed response from the crowd which was growing more and more impatient for the headliners.
Curtain opens and it’s not long before the familiar sound of Troy Donockley’s pipes, as part of a solo performance, greets the public marking the beginning of the ride. Nearly 20 years since they burst onto the scene, Nightwish have soldiered on despite inner-band turmoil and have now reached what perhaps is the pinnacle of their touring career. With Floor on the microphone, the band was able to showcase Holoipainen’s music wizardship which has flourished over the band’s lifespan.
Floor’s vocal delivery supported their back catalogue without imitating, as she put her own stamp on the tracks. When you think back at Nightwish’s performance, none of the members did anything spectacular to stand out on stage, no antics, not much talking, the show relied on crystal clear sound and the band working like a clock that doesn’t miss a tick.
The impressive stage production enhanced the overall performance ensuring that the audience was immersed in the stories behind the music. And that’s where the band’s onstage strength lay in on the night, their ability to transport the audience through their different depths of work since their inception.
Nightwish breathed new life into decades old material secure in the knowledge that their fans were ready to embrace it. There are very few bands whose onstage presence embodies their maturity as artists who remain very much in love with what they do and Nightwish proved that they are one of those bands.