Nightwish

support Beast In Black
author LL date 03/11/18 venue Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN

Just less than two weeks ago, symphonic metal greats Within Temptation visited Copenhagen in this very same venue for a show that never quite amounted to something really special. That has made me more apprehensive about Nightwish's show here tonight, simply because I feel like I might have misjudged the genre's allure to me these days since both bands were definitely bigger on my playlists ten years ago. The redeeming factor that I cling to as I make my way to Valbyhallen is mainly that the Finnish metallers will be playing their Decades setlist, just like at the Copenhell festival earlier this year, featuring lots of old and rarely played songs. Just like a couple of weeks ago, however, there is the case of a newcomer support band that seems relatively unknown to most people that have nevertheless shown up early tonight.

All pictures by Lykke Nielsen

Beast In Black

The Finnish power metal band Beast In Black have one album out from last year called “Berserker” and their strongest card shows right away to be their vocalist Yannis Papadopoulos who adorns the loud metal beats with a classic metal voice ala Judas Priest that reaches for some high screaming dramatic notes. However he insists on speaking hoarsely in his “metal” voice in between songs as well, screaming out piercing calls for us to get engaged and raise our fists. This gives the whole performance a weird kind of funny theatrical dimension that does send smiles and laughs going around the venue but also further makes them seem somewhat gimmicky. In addition to this, one of the most prominent sounds of their music is dominating keyboard backing and synthesizers that give many of the songs a distinct retro 80’s vibe. It makes for funny moments, especially during the all-out “Crazy, Mad, Insane” that adds robotic voices in the chorus and has the whole band wearing retro sunglasses with the words running digitally across them while Papadopoulos himself dons a black-and-white power-glove.

The problem with all this is that they have no keyboardist in the band and to me at least it’s always annoying when bands center their sound around something that they then choose to not bring with them and play live. This raises further suspicions as to the degree with which Papadopoulos sings all of his lines live as there is more than one moment in the set when playback backing vocals seem to overrule the actual performance as well as ghostly vocals that come at us from the speakers at moments when the microphone is nowhere near his mouth. To their merit, their most retro-sounding tracks get parts of the audience moving because it’s just good, catchy fun. In addition to the aforementioned stand-out track, the single “Blind and Frozen” that arrives towards the end also makes a good impression, but they are not enough to really hold up the set for very long. All in all, they play alright but taking the above things into account, it never goes beyond average fun despite Papadopoulos’ impressive pipes.

5

Nightwish

For the evening’s headliner, the entire back of the stage has been transformed into one huge screen on which a narrated introductory sequence begins playing. The old-man-fairytale voice tells us that we’re about to travel back in time and goes on to lament the times before mobile phones dominated music shows and subsequently asks us to put them away and also keep the loud talking out of the concert space. Good on Nightwish for taking ownership of their concerts and trying to influence their audiences but numerous phones can be seen filming this very speech and the following song, comically. After a few minutes of this, the artwork on the screen changes to a one-minute countdown, really riling up the crowd who counts loudly along to the last ten seconds before everything is taken down entirely with an intro of Troy Donockley playing a flute version of “Swanheart” for us beautifully. Throughout the show, the artwork of the record that each song belongs to plays a big part in the chosen visuals that frequently features snow-covered arctic landscapes, owls, the night-sky, forests, or fire. The latter is also features in extensive use of pyrotechnics that we lacked at their Copenhell performance because of the very dry Summer we had leading to bans on use of fire outside. It goes a long way to underline the grandeur of the music and helps heat up the room to good conditions for the audience to be rowdy although that never really happens, disappointingly.

One of the big questions about tonight’s performance is how the band’s vocalist Floor Jansen is going to stand up to all of the old material that was written when original singer Tarja Turunen was fronting them. Throughout the concert, though, she does a great job, even enhancing the sense of emotional investment in many of the songs with a somewhat fuller voice than can be heard on the originals. In addition to being a great singer that seems on top of her game tonight, she is also just a good front woman, addressing us with genuine enthusiasm and a great energy that sends waves through the audience at strategic times. Of course, the band has a lot of orchestral backing in addition to the live instruments, but as opposed to their support tonight they have their synth player as well as a veritable bunch of flutes and a bag pipe as part of their live sound, giving their dramatic music just the right grounding to not feel like a fake theatrical circus but a full-on live music show with more than enough merit to warrant a super engaged audience.

Weirdly, though, most of the audience stand peculiarly still, often with crossed arms like they have no idea what a special set it is they are actually witnessing here. Newer songs like the folk-inspired “Élan” and “I Want My Tears Back” with dominant bagpipes get huge singalongs and spontaneous clapping going doing their intros, just like huge older singles like “Wish I Had An Angel” and “Nemo” do which seems to point to an audience that is perhaps not even that into the fabulous back catalogue of the band. Nevertheless, the bar is held high throughout the set, with very few songs falling through qualitatively. The modulating “Amaranth” and the ballad “The Carpenter” provides me with the only boring minutes of the set while the stand-out moments on the other hand are numerous: “Come Cover Me” with its winding verse and yearning chorus-melody, the glorious piano-riffs of “Gethsemane”, the operatic center running through “Sacrament of Wilderness”, an amazing rendition of the aggressive “Slaying the Dreamer”, as well as finally the three first parts of the 24-minute “The Greatest Show on Earth” followed by the also extensive “Ghost Love Score”.

With this incredibly strong last portion of the set that ends in pyrotechnics galore as well red confetti raining down on us, Nightwish close a very convincing show and cement themselves as the greatest symphonic metal band making music today. Apart from the obligatory wish for obvious fan-favorites like “End of All Hope”, “Wishmaster”, or “Sleeping Sun” to adorn the set list instead of the few average songs that appear in the show tonight, there is not much more to ask of the band really. This in combination with a surprisingly unimpressed audience drags the overall impression of the show down a bit but nonetheless, it is a solid evening out and a great tour of the bands older material.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Swanheart (solo by Troy Donockley)
  • 2. Dark Chest of Wonders
  • 3. 10th Man Down
  • 4. Wish I Had an Angel
  • 5. Come Cover Me
  • 6. Gethsemane
  • 7. Élan
  • 8. Sacrament of Wilderness
  • 9. Dead Boy’s Poem
  • 10. Elvenjig + Elvenpath
  • 11. I Want My Tears Back
  • 12. Amaranth
  • 13. The Carpenter
  • 14. The Kinslayer
  • 15. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean
  • 16. Nemo
  • 17. Slaying the Dreamer
  • 18. The Greatest Show on Earth (Parts 1-3)
  • 19. Ghost Love Score

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