CONCERT REVIEW: Nightwish at the Gibson Amphitheater

A few weeks ago, some friends and I attended Nightwish’s headlining “Imaginaerum Tour” concert in Universal City, CA. I had been anticipating this concert for a year and had bought the tickets about half a year ago to ensure optimal seating. Fortunately, the Gibson Amphitheater is an excellent venue and none of the seats in the room could have been considered “bad”. This concert was the best I have ever attended and I had an incredible time!

Nightwish was scheduled to go on at about eight, but concerts are always behind schedule. I did not anticipate there being two support bands; each played about six or seven songs.

The first band was a local group called Dommin who play a sort of gothic alternative rock. I enjoyed their music very much. The singer was passionate and charismatic, with a voice similar to that of Elvis Presley. The band was a certainly eclectic mix of styles that I ultimately enjoyed.

The second band, Amorphis, like Nightwish, hails from Finland. I did not particularly enjoy their set. They played metal that combined both clean and growling vocals. I do not enjoy listening to the latter. The lead singer had some interesting hair choices, and his idea of stage presence consisted of swinging around his incredibly long braided and dreadlocked hair. Unlike Dommin, I was impatient for their set to end (although that may have something to do with the fact that Amorphis was the band directly before Nightwish).

When Nightwish came onstage, the excitement in the crowd was palpable. They opened with their new single “Storytime” to much applause and continued to play with aplomb throughout. They played a wonderful mix of older and newer material, including an acoustic version of their single “Nemo” from 2004. When they played their acoustic ballad “The Islander”, the lights went out and people held up their lighters/phones. It was a truly beautiful moment.

Anette was simply fantastic, better than she has sounded on either of her records. She danced on the stage with a perky energy, truly happy to be playing for us. Both her vocals, which have only grown stronger and more confident since 2007, and her choice of clothing, a long majestic black gown, seemed to challenge, “Tarja who?” Marco was delightfully charming as he co-ran the stage with Anette. Jukka, Emppu and Tuomas were characteristically out of the spotlight, with Emppu running around the stage and occasionally interacting with the other band members. Having guest artist Troy Donockley was a lovely surprise, as he accompanied the band on several of the more Celtic-influenced songs. Fortunately, the band decided to play only the first part of “Song of Myself”, leaving out the spoken word poetry section, which was a smart move. The sound quality was truly stellar in the amphitheater. The band alternated fast-tempo songs with some lovely ballads, refusing to let us be bored. The only lull came towards the middle when they played several ballads in a row, but as soon as Jukka tapped out the beginning drums of “Planet Hell”, one of their greatest songs (which hadn’t been played live since the Tarja days, in 2005), I was filled with excitement and glee. The crowd cheered the band back after the “last” song for the encore, which was the stunning and emotional “The Poet and the Pendulum” followed by their famous cover of “Over the Hills and Far Away” (also not played since 2005). Judging from this concert, it seems as though their Imaginaerum tour will consist of a mix of new material and little-played older songs, an excellent plan.

Overall, this concert was a truly fantastic experience. I can't wait to see them again!

Setlist:

1. Storytime
2. Wish I Had an Angel
3. Amaranth
4. Scaretale
5. The Siren
6. Slow, Love, Slow
7. I Want My Tears Back
8. The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove
9. The Islander
10. Nemo (acoustic)
11. Last of the Wilds
12. Planet Hell
13. Song of Myself
14. Last Ride of the Day

Encore:
15. The Poet and the Pendulum
16. Over the Hills and Far Away






Comments

  1. Nice review...almost makes me want to go to one of these shows...well, maybe not...but nice write up for anyone looking to see them in concert!

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