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Metal/Prog Metal Concert Reviews

Nightwish

Live In Los Angeles, September 2008

Review by Rick Damigella

Finland’s champions of symphonic progressive metal stormed through Los Angeles this month, putting on a spectacular show in a classic venue. The Wiltern Theater was packed on a warm September Saturday night with one of the most eclectic and friendly crowds I have ever had the pleasure of sharing a concert experience with. Los Angeles is notorious for people arriving late and leaving early to everything from sporting events to concerts to plays - not this night. The concert goers were made up of a uniquely diverse cross section of various areas of fandom: traditional metal fans, Goths, teen girl anime fans, Renaissance Faire types (including women in bodices and men in full Scottish kilts) and more than a few ladies who likely were practitioners of Wicca. All in all, it was a very good opportunity for people watching indeed.

Nightwish commanded the stage with a fierce presence, tight musicianship and an excellent sound mix right from the get go. The thing I was most interested in seeing was how new vocalist Anette Olzon (sporting newly blonde hair) fared when singing songs originated by former vocalist Tarja Turunen. I had intentionally avoided any YouTube clips of earlier shows, preferring to hear it for myself in the proper setting. I was very pleasantly impressed with how Olzon’s more mainstream vocals matched so very well with the older Nightwish material. The only song that sounded like they may have been rearranging was “Wishmaster,” which included bassist Marco Hietala singing co-lead vocals with Olzon, in a slightly tweaked arrangement of this Nightwish classic. It played very powerfully as did all of their earlier material despite the lack of Turunen’s operatic vocals. Early Nightwish songs also included a stunning rendition of “Wish I had an Angel.” It is safe to say Nightwish have weathered this storm of change admirably and are firmly sailing in new waters with their new female figurehead.

The new material from 2007’s Dark Passion Play however was what truly made the show. From “Bye Bye Beautiful” to “7 Days to the Wolves” to the epic “The Poet and the Pendulum” the band stormed through the new material with an unrivaled energy. Highlights were the acoustic guitar led “The Islander” and my personal favorite new song, “Amaranth” on which Olzon utterly blew my mind with her live vocal abilities on the soaring crescendo of the song. If all of their performances are this tight, there should be no reason why Nightwish doesn’t bless us with a live album of material from this tour. Here’s to the hope Nightwish don’t spend too much time on the road and grace us with more new material and an equally awe inspiring tour sooner rather than later.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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