I wrote this review over on the OSA (Oceansouls of America) forum, and I’m pretty much just going to paste it here. (I apologize in advance for the swearing. Sometimes, though, it’s appropriate.)
“The show at House of Blues Orlando last night was my first Nightwish concert ever…and to say I was blown away doesn’t come close to describing it.
I broke down and did the VIP thing at the last minute, because I had artwork I really wanted to pass on to them and I figured that would be my only real chance to do it. They were a little late coming out, and there were like 70 people in line, so they kind of had to crank through us. It was worth it…got them to sign the original of one of my drawings (which is going in a frame, like, today), and briefly shake hands with all of them. I must have looked a little wild-eyed, because Marco (who was next to last in line) looked at me with some concern and asked how I was, and then he smiled when I said I was nervous as hell. Told me to relax. I didn’t get any pictures because there just wasn’t time to fiddle with my camera.
I could have gotten on the very front row, but I opted for second row keyboard side (front row keyboard side was already taken, surprise surprise). House of Blues is all standing room in the center, and pretty small, so that was bloody well close enough. (Literally ten feet from Tuomas’ keyboards.) The only bummer was that the keyboards were set up directly in front of me, so I couldn’t really get any good shots of Tuomas’ face…although it was so smoky and light-dazzling in there that I’m not sure I got “good” pictures of any of them. Next time, I’m going to make it a point to get a spot a little more towards direct center.
Kamelot came on. I knew absolutely nothing about them going in, and I’m still not sure if they’re my cup of tea, but damn, do they know how to put on a show and work a crowd. The girls’ costumes in particular were epic. I felt a bit guilty not knowing any of the songs, but it was still fun.
Crimson Tide started and Nightwish came on. They pulled up some blue lights on the stage, and it was hazy, so watching Tuomas’ silhouette walk up to his keyboards with the lights and fog behind him and me being Right There…phew.
They went right into Storytime…which was loud. I mean, I knew it was going to be, but the sheer volume still gave me a “whoa” moment. I have to admit, this one was the most disappointing to me, personally, but it’s my favorite song off Imaginaerum and one of the few that I just can’t imagine anyone but Anette singing. I honestly could not tell you, quality-wise, how well Floor did…I couldn’t hear her well enough over the band and everyone else singing along. It just so happened that I was on the side of the room where the lead vocals were coming through the weakest (I noticed this with Kamelot, too…the gals were always loud and clear, but Tommy on the leads…not so much). But that’s not to say it didn’t rock
Dark Chest of Wonders was next. Floor nailed this one. Lots of instrumental bits, thus lots of headbanging and flying hair. I respect anyone who can do this without hurting themselves. I think Marco paused and introduced Floor between this one and the next, but I might be remembering that wrong. Segued into Wish I Had an Angel. I have kind of a personal history with this song, as I once had a thing for someone who fit it waaaay too well. Marco’s intensity on “I’m in love with my lust/ burning angel wings to dust” was shiver-inducing (as was Tuomas singing along with his eyes closed).
Almost immediately went into Amaranth. I was prepared to dislike this one, as I’d seen YouTube videos of this done live and was like “eh”. Was pleasantly surprised, as it rocked the hardest yet. (Harder than Angel? To me, yes. I have no idea how or why). Again, like in Storytime, I couldn’t always distinguish Floor clearly over everyone else around me singing, but from what I could hear, she sounded pretty good. (Yay, because Amaranth is one of my all-time favorite Nightwish songs). The guys were phenomenal. I love how much they grin at each other.
Tuomas started the intro to Ever Dream and I heard the slow “omg they’re doing THIS one” realization wash over the crowd in a wave. This is a song that I as a writer have characters and plotlines attached to, so hearing it live felt like an ode to the people in my head. Floor was fantastic again (she tends to be on the older material).
Then they pulled out the stools and did Slow, Love, Slow. Considering that this is another one I have a hard time imagining anyone but Anette’s voice on, Floor did really well. One botched lyric on “this deep sigh coiled around my chest”…I think she said “neck” instead…but other than that, she carried it. Marco’s bass and Tuomas’ piano together, by themselves, without the guitar and drums drowning them out was nice, too.
They kicked it back into high gear with I Want My Tears Back. This song rocked the house. Didn’t take any pictures because damn, I didn’t want to fiddle with the camera. I think this may have been my favorite song of the whole set. I was literally out of breath and giddy when it ended.
After that, Jukka came out from behind the drums and started the beat for The Islander. Tuomas put on a hat (Love that hat: the tall crimson-ish one with the two little chains in front). Marco had everyone hold up their cell phone screens (I got to use the Zippo lighter app on my phone for the first time. Yes, there’s an app for that). As my phone was also my camera, I had to do a little switching back and forth during this song. I have a particular fondness for The Islander, as I love sailing ships and old sailing stories. I’ve been sailing several times on a schooner up in Maine and this song really takes me back there, gets me in that mood. I could easily put myself in the Islander’s shoes.
Acoustic Nemo was next, and I’ll be honest, I almost like this version better than the original. Some songs don’t need the full metal sound behind them and this is one of them. Troy came back onstage and Floor slipped away, so I was pretty sure Last of the Wilds was up. This one was pure fun, and you could feel how much the guys were loving it. My face was kind of sore towards the end and I realized this was because I was grinning the whole time. Their smiles were contagious.
It was at this point I observed that I had 20% of my phone battery remaining, but I was determined to shoot until the thing died.
Most epic speaking moment: Right after Last of the Wilds, the lights went down, came up slow and red under Marco’s face as he announces, in that creepy voice he can do, that now we’re going all the way down to HELL. Backtrack to Planet Hell starts, lights go back down, come up again as Jukka starts on the drums. By now the crowd is over the moon. Oh, that song was awesome. Lyrically, it’s one of Nightwish’s most powerful songs, IMO, and hearing so many people sing/screaming “Welcome to hell, little saint!“…that was pure magic in a dark, crazy way.
Ghost River was next. Like Scaretale, Ghost River is one of those fantastically dark Nightwish songs that in my saner moments, I wonder why I like it so much. Floor was fantastic again; she and Marco did the call and answer bits perfectly. My favorite moment was when the crowd became the kids’ choir: “We will go down, we will drown, drown, deeper down/ the river wild will be our last ride“…gave me shivers. Tuomas looked up at us all during that part and gave this, I dunno, maybe you’d call it a Maestro smile. Sort of a mix of awed “What the hell have I created?” and a fierce “Fuck yeah!”. One of those split second looks that just kind of knocks the breath out of you.
Short pause, and then Song of Myself started. On one hand, it’s one of my favorites, but on the other…I knew from looking at past set lists that it meant the show was nearly over. At the sort of fade-off at the end Tuomas just kind of kept his hands on the keyboard, then Jukka came back in…and because I hadn’t actually listened to the song in so long it took me a moment to recognize it.
Ghost Love Score.
This is one I never imagined I’d hear live…up until last week because it was one I thought they’d never play live. Knowing they’d played it earlier on the tour gave me a bit of hope, but still…oh boy, it was epic. Floor really shined in this one, although there may have been a lyric or two slightly off. (Hell, I flub that one all the time when I sing it in the shower.) Afterwards they thanked all of their roadies and crew, and Kamelot, and Marco announced the “last ride of the night, last ride of the North American tour”, which was of course Last Ride of the Day.
Right at the “magic of the moment, abracadabra” part, Kamelot came back out on stage, which was pretty freaking awesome.
Nightwish and Kamelot finished the song together and then took their bow (which was both cool and made it difficult to get them all in one shot). Last ride of the tour, indeed.
Then the curtain came across and I realized my feet were numb and my ears were ringing, and I had less than 10% of my phone battery left. And I did not want to move. It was like a fugue of “whoa”.
Best overheard quote of the night: “Holy shit, she’s tall.”
(Talking about Floor For perspective: I’m not exactly short. In that shot of me and Tuomas in the previous post, you’ll see I come up to about his nose. Floor is taller than he is. No, really.)
Overall observations on the show itself:
The guys make weird faces at each other and at the crowd all. the. time. Seriously, I kept bursting out laughing every time I’d come back to watching one of the guys because inevitably, they’d be making a face. I have never seen a band that does this. I think it’s a reflection of just how much fun they’re having up there.
I wish they’d played The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove (and I would have loved to hear Escapist, but that’s another one I’d be nervous to hear Floor try). But eh, Ghost Love Score. Trade-offs, you know?
Tuomas is not kidding when he says he keeps his eyes closed onstage. It’s both endearing and frustrating (“Your eyes are closed in every single picture! Gah!”), and boy does he get into the spirit of whatever song they’re playing. (They all do, but he really does). It’s intense. He reminds me of the Phantom, in how he’s always mouthing the lyrics along with whoever is singing, and they’re his lyrics, it’s his songs…but not his voice.
“I am the mask you wear…
…it’s me they hear
your spirit and my voice
in one combined…”
And I suppose it can’t be easy playing Christine to his Phantom, in a sense…which does make me wonder who the next Christine will ultimately be and how she’ll fare.
After the show, I went outside and found a bunch of people waiting around the area where the tour bus would come out. (Downtown Disney + getting tour buses in and out = complicated). I knew I had an hour and a half drive home but I just wasn’t ready to go yet, so I decided to stick around and see if the band would come out for a bit. This was around 10:30ish. (Adrenaline highs are awesome. Bed, pah! Haven’t eaten since noon, pah! I feel none of it.)
An extremely slow hour and a half crept by, during which I eavesdropped on some interesting conversations and watched the crew move Nightwish’s equipment into the other bus. (The lift on the back of the bus they use to raise stuff up squeaks and squeals. A lot. Like a whistling teapot or something. I found that amusing). Around midnightish, Nightwish’s bus is ready to move out (we could see them in there through the windows), but they were having some sort of issue with it and so it sat there for quite a while. Marco got out for a cigarette, which was about the time they got the bus moving…without him. Someone tried to snag him to sign something, but he kind of gestured helplessly at the departing bus and started half-walking, half-jogging along beside it until it was out into the parking lot…with all us watching and thinking “They DO realize he’s not on the bus…right??” That was kind of funny.
The few of us that were left walked around the corner and saw that the bus hadn’t actually left yet…they kind of pulled up to the curb and stopped. Now at this point, I’d kind of given up hope that anyone would come out, but as someone pointed out, if they were just going to leave they would have by then. So we waited, the 11 or so of us crazy stalker fans left. Finally Jukka came out and chatted with some of us, and sometime later Tuomas, Floor and Marco all came out.
By now my phone is utterly dead and I’ve resigned myself to not getting any more pictures. I told myself I was just going to shake Tuomas’ hand and say thank you for a freaking awesome show…if I got to do that much, I’d be happy. Well, at the last moment this couple I’d loaned a sharpie to offered to take my picture with him and email it to me. Um yes.
So I shook Tuomas’ hand and told him it was my first show, etc, and he smiled that quiet “I really dunno why everyone likes me so much but it’s kind of awesome” smile. Now I’m really shy in person, so I had to be goaded into asking for a picture. Seeing this, he kind of jokingly says “come into my arms”…in that Finnish accent…holy freaking crap. The fangirl in me is gibbering at this point…hey, this is the guy who can write lyrics like this:
I think I squeaked something resembling “okay”. Literally squeaked. Like a mouse. But the picture turned out good, even if I do kind of have this deer in headlights look about my eyes.
I got pictures with both Marco and Floor as well. Marco is one of those people that just somehow puts you at ease just being around them, and Floor is really sweet. (She remembered I was “the artist”. Ha!) I left after that (as it was now nearly 1 in the morning and I still had to drive), so I don’t know if Emppu ever came out.
In all…I’d have to say the whole night was probably one of the best birthday presents EVER.”
Also, moral of the night: Always, always have a Sharpie on hand! I would have never gotten those pics with the band without it. Luck favors the prepared, indeed.
So that was Oct. 14, 2012. Someone actually recorded the whole thing, which is up on YouTube.
What’s sad is that I’m kind of still recovering from it 😛