CONCERT REVIEW: Nightwish at the Electric Factory

I On the Arts: The College Years returns with another review, cross-posted in the Swarthmore Phoenix. Enjoy!

Last Sunday night (rebellious, I know) two other Swatties (Swarthmore students) and I took the SEPTA into Philly to see Nightwish (with Kamelot supporting) in concert at the Electric Factory. For those not in the know, Nightwish, my favorite band (as of the past 4 years) hails from Finland and plays a brand of female-fronted symphonic metal/rock. They have released a total of seven albums, the two most recent of which feature Swedish chanteuse Anette Olzon, who replaced their former operatic singer Tarja. Their most recent album, released in December 2011, is a bombastic conceptual affair called Imaginaerum. I had the fortune to see Nightwish kick off their most recent world tour in Los Angeles last January.

I was overjoyed to learn that Nightwish would be playing in Philly when I was in town. I was not familiar with their supporting act Kamelot, a power metal band hailing from Florida, but I was reassured by my compatriot and fellow Phoenix writer Aaron Kroeber ‘16 that they would be stellar, strong openers.

After the speedy SEPTA trip and a brisk, lively walk through Chinatown to the Electric Factory, Kroeber, Rita Zevallos ’15 and I were bubbling over with anticipation and excitement. Entering the venue, we navigated the growing crowd, craning our necks to get good views of the fortunately well-elevated stage.

As the openers, Kamelot proved a most pleasant surprise. They started promptly and played a tight 45-minute set.  The music was dramatic, technical and theatrical. The singer, a Swede named Tommy, sang cleanly and skillfully, with a slightly operatic flair.  The sound quality of the instruments was slightly less than stellar, however; the bass through the speakers nearly threatened to drown out the singing, though later on in their six or seven song set the singer was able to combat this problem. I plan to purchase their upcoming album when it drops in a few weeks.


After Kamelot took their bows, the crowd’s anticipation and exhilaration, as well as that of my fellow Swatties and myself, grew exponentially. We discussed amongst ourselves our hopes and our predictions for Nightwish’s set list as well as which of the band’s album covers was most aesthetically pleasing.

When the lights dimmed and the prerecorded overture began to play, the audience erupted into enthusiastic, overjoyed applause. Nightwish, led by the charming lead vocalist Anette and rascally Viking bassist-vocalist Marco, took the stage and segued right into a catchy track from Imaginaerum. My companions and I sung along to nearly every song, fist-pumping or clapping in time as needed.  (I even indulged in a little headbanging!)


The concert was well paced, with a similar set list to that of the concert I had seen in Los Angeles. Nightwish demonstrated their ease with a variety of styles of music that all had that classic, emotionally satisfying “Nightwishy” feel to them. Nightwish lyrics tend to be abstract and poetic, dealing with themes of love, beauty, and innocence lost or regained.  Beginning with strong, dynamic tracks from their last several albums, including the incredible, furious duet “Planet Hell” from their 2004 album Once, the band transitioned almost effortlessly into their experimental jazzy ballad “Slow, Love, Slow” from “Imaginaerum,” a personal favorite of Zevallos'. They then continued with the ballads, creating a sense of intimacy within the venue.  During the folksy acoustic sea shanty “The Islander,”  from their 2007 album Dark Passion Play, Marco encouraged the audience to hold their brightly lit phones aloft.

However, the band soon changed pace again, stirring up the crowd with many more fast-paced, incredibly melodic and enjoyable tracks, a mixture of duets and songs where Anette shined alone. The band played an acoustic rendition of their power ballad “Nemo” (from Once), a truly lovely and sensitive ode to loneliness and self-discovery. A particularly wonderful surprise to me was their inclusion of their 2002 classic “Dead to the World,” which they did not play in their Los Angeles show. They closed the nearly two-hour set with an anthemic track from “Imaginaerum,” and, smiling, took their bows.

Unfortunately for the crowd, the band neglected to give an encore. My fellow Swatties and I, as well as the majority of the crowd, stood in disbelief, chanting for the band to return, but were sadly disappointed by the lack of an encore. It was, in fact, my first concert experience during which the band did not come back after a “fake-out” for a few more songs. In addition, the venue’s sound quality was rather lackluster at the beginning and the bass once again drowned out much of the singer’s vocals.

Overall, the concert was a success. My fellow Swatties and I enjoyed seeing one of our favorite bands perform live in such an intimate immediate setting.

For those followers who know the band, either actively or clandestinely (you know who you are), I’ve included the set list below:

Crimson Tide/Deep Blue Sea (prerecorded opening track; cover)
Wish I Had an Angel
Planet Hell
The Siren
Slow, Love, Slow
I Want My Tears Back
The Islander
Nemo (acoustic arrangement)
Last of the Wilds
7 Days to the Wolves
Ghost River
Dead to the World
Over the Hills and Far Away (cover)
Song of Myself
Last Ride of the Day
Imaginaerum (prerecorded closing track)

This is Deborah Krieger’s new column for the Phoenix, “I On the Arts: The College Years,” signing off.  Until next time!


  1. What? No encore? For shame...

    So although this band is not necessarily my cup of tea, I will attempt to give another listen if only because you are so enamored of the music!

    Nice review!

  2. This is a good review! You did an excellent job of summarizing the events and capturing the general mood of the concert. I'd like to hear a little more description of Nightwish's music in general as well as the songs that they played. I also think you could devote a little more space to describing Kamelot and their sound. You did well describing the sounds and mood of the concert; what about the visuals? Overall I liked it and will definitely give these bands a listen!


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