I’ll start this review with a shocking revelation; I’d not really listened to much Nightwish before this show. They were always a band that interested me, but I found myself not getting round to listening to their music properly, probably because I was fleeting between genres back in the day. By the time I finally did get round to listening to them, lead singer Tarja Turunen had been fired, replaced by Anette Olzon. Whilst I enjoyed what I heard, it was quite a radical difference from the Nightwish of old. However, a mere few years after recruiting her, she was dismissed from the band, and Floor Jansen stepped in on vocal duties. I guess it may just be me here, but the shift between singers became too jarring, and put me off. Not that there’s anything wrong with their vocal talents, it’s just that the shifting of styles was too much for me to keep up with. I eventually yielded on this, and gave the band a chance, but keeping up with so much new music made it difficult to play catch up, so they fell by the wayside again. After a friend offered me a ticket to the Birmingham show of the Decades world tour (thanks Dave!), I finally got my chance to see them. Since then I’ve been kicking myself for not giving them the chance they deserved!

First band of the night were Beast In Black. Having never heard them before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not going to lie, it was extremely cheesy at times, with the guitarists in the band lining up on several occasions, pulling corny poses as they rocked out. Although it was clear they weren’t taking themselves seriously, and were there to have fun. This resonated well with the audience, myself included, and before we knew it, we were rocking out to it ourselves. They were lively and enthusiastic throughout. Their sound was great too, feeling very Heavy Metal, but with a Power Metal feel to it. A highlight of their set was when they performed “Crazy, Mad, Insane”, a track that blended Metal and what I can only describe as Electronic Disco elements together. This was all complete with the band wearing 80’s style sunglasses, with text that read ‘Insane’ rolling across them in LEDs. If it was hard to tell they were having a bit of a laugh before, it became pretty blatant at this point! It was an excellent way to get the crowd in the mood for the headlining act, and I couldn’t imagine any other band being in this spot.

So, this was it, my first ever Nightwish gig. I knew to expect a good one, but I never expected anything like this! It started with a fantastic atmospheric intro, as stunning visuals were displayed on a massive screen in the background, of a steampunk style time-machine kicking into motion. This was a theme throughout the show, and the imagery was striking from start to finish, complimenting the music. In terms of the track selection, they started off huge, with the mighty duo of “Dark Chest of Wonders” and “Wish I Had an Angel”. From there, it remained on that high level, being a superb mix of old and new, never letting up. We were treated to songs such as “Gethsemane”, “I Want My Tears Back” and “The Kinslayer”, amongst many others. The music was heavy and hard-hitting in its metal elements, yet beautifully melodic at the same time with the orchestral, symphonic themes. It’s what you’d expect from them, but in a live setting this was heightened tenfold. Experiencing it in such a way is truly something to behold. As for Floor Jansen, her vocal performance was absolutely incredible, and made the music feel complete. One minute she would be belting out notes, then the next she’d transition seamlessly to an operatic style. The combination of epic instrumentation and spectacular vocals was pitch-perfect, being so spectacular that it was enough to give me goosebumps. Jansen didn’t just have a strong presence, she projected it, her charisma making the evening all the more enchanting. The entire band felt prominent on stage, and they were clearly loving every minute. Alongside the evolving visual elements, were the addition of pyro and fireworks, which were timed with the utmost precision. It enhanced the theatrical feel, making it incredibly epic. All throughout, the atmosphere was electrifying, the sounds filling the hall of the Birmingham Arena making the atmosphere absolutely captivating. The finale of “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “Ghost Love Score” was the perfect note to finish this saga on.

As I said earlier in this review, I’m still kicking myself for not giving Nightwish the chance they deserved, because this show only served to prove how phenomenal they are. It makes me wish that I’d started listening to them sooner, but this was a hell of a way to be properly introduced to them. Needless to say, you can definitely consider me converted. I can honestly say that I’ll not only strive to listen to them much more, but I’ll also jump at the chance to see them live again whenever they next tour, without hesitation.

Setlist:

  1. Dark Chest of Wonders
  2. Wish I Had an Angel
  3. 10th Man Down
  4. Come Cover Me
  5. Gethsemane
  6. Élan
  7. Sacrament of Wilderness
  8. Dead Boy’s Poem
  9. Elvenjig
  10. Elvenpath
  11. I Want My Tears Back
  12. Last Ride of the Day
  13. The Carpenter
  14. The Kinslayer
  15. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean
  16. Nemo
  17. Slaying the Dreamer
  18. The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapter I: Four Point Six; Chapter II: Life; Chapter III: The Toolmaker)
  19. Ghost Love Score
  20. Outro: The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapter IV: The Understanding; Chapter C: Sea-Worn Driftwood)