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Nightwish – 09.12.2022 – Festhalle Frankfurt

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The Finns are coming…

Maybe even Finnish is the next world metal language, as some Finnish bands are invading in the Frankfurt area with concerts in December; the world still has some catching up to do.

Nightwish, one of the biggest female-fronted symphonic metal bands, were guests in the Frankfurt Festhalle. But before they appeared, you could use your above-mentioned knowledge of Finnish with the first support act Turmion Kätilöt and, if you followed their almost 20-year band history well, you could also sing along. “The Midwives of Destruction” (I admit it, I’ve researched it… Editor’s note) like to appear in groups of six with martially made-up faces, let their hair fly, or their long braids, and offered to the audience which was alread there, a good start. Set in the corner of the rather rare Industrial-Metal with, in fact, Techno elements, this should be the first of the three styles of the evening.

In the meantime, things are happening under their logo of the skeleton sitting in a circle. “Sikiö” is the name of the “heraldic animal”, the archaeo-forensic scientists would be delighted with it, just look at the horns of this creature, which has yet to be determined…

The Festhalle, which was about half full at the time, including the tiers, begins to follow the music, gets caught up in the electro dance metal and gives everything to signal to the band that their performance still reaches the still meager audience.

A song in English is included towards the end, including hand waving. I don’t feel at a metal concert anymore, more like a dance party, but still comfortable. The performance simply inspires and somehow Turmion Kätilöt pulls you along. “One more in English”, and everything about the “Finnish-don’t-understand-what-sing-they-there?” is already forgotten – what a pity.

“Thank you Frankfurt – we love you” – “We love you, too”, the latecomers missed something that evening.

Beast in Black, also from Finland, conquer the stage, as can easily be seen from the oversized banner in the background. But first not in person, first with a bombast entrance music, which is supposed to signal to the audience that something big is about to appear on stage. Watching the beautiful female Anime-Amazon in the background, drummer Atte Palokangas begins the walk-in, greets the audience standing behind his drum kit and takes a seat, takes over the beat of the music and grins, which doesn’t stop for the whole performance. He’s having fun.

But there’s more musicians coming along to Blade Runner, the opening song. Very concise and with a very high recognition value, singer Yannis Papadopoulos, who revives the characteristics of the power metal of the 80s/90s with the band in many places with his head voice. I thought yes, the times are over, but no, in a new guise, this style simply puts you in a good mood. “Happy Metal” so to speak, as I recently read.

Thrown back in the times of Accept, Judas Priest, Bon Jovi and the like, From Hell with Love continues with the obligatory synth recordings, for which some bands were known at the time and those who had imitated them, became criticised. It just has to fit. “We are here for one reason…” the tension increases, which comes as an afterthought, “…to give you the real heavy metal”. That’s an announcement. Brave. Especially if you heard these sayings thirty years ago from bands that were maybe a bit “metal” but far from “heavy”. But that’s history, the past, a revival of the happy metal combo music is taking place here and that through Yannis with a sensational and surprisingly large vocal range. Just as some band names used to appear in the song titles, Beast in Black, the first track from the first album Berserker from 2017 (!) should not be missing. Directly after that it goes into the piece Die by the Blade with guitars swaying in unison, good mood is the program. They also love each other very much and transfer that to the audience, which surprisingly has a lot of diversity in the color of their clothes. Not “just black”, not “just cowl”, but probably also due to the average age and the composition of the bands, there were a lot of spots of color in the now somewhat better filled festival hall.

Nice staging of To the last drop of Blood, in which the drums and the three guitarists get going on their own, before Yannis jumps back onto the stage in his long, black coat and lets the audience also lift their feet. Power metal with that voice… It’s fun to see the guys again on their Dark Connection Tour in 2023, then as headliner. The pyro that some bands use to underline their songs is reserved for Nightwish this time, Beast in Black only has the choreo with guitarists playing in different ways, with a singer who busily jumps from one place to the other on stage.

After Moonlight Rendevous, the disco-dance-pop number – some still remember the “Disco-Fox” – the 80s electro-drums-with-sing-and-hand-waving state breaks out completely with One Night in Tokyo. Tough stuff for people who later want to have enough listening and movement energy for Nightwish. Endurance is the order of the day. Blind and Frozen follows, finally with a guitar solo, and before the threefold “Thank you” and the song End of the World doesn’t start the end, but the style simply goes on. Here Yannis shows his vocal range again and… somehow he reminds me of Rob Halford. Unfortunately, the title “Metal God” has already been given to, and even protected by, this one celebrity of similar vocal range… But who knows? … Maybe as a successor?

Setlist Beast in Black:

  1. Blade Runner
  2. From Hell with Love
  3. Beast in Black
  4. Die by the Blade
  5. To the last Drop of Blood
  6. Moonlight Rendezvous
  7. One Night in Tokyo
  8. Blind and Frozen
  9. End of the World

The oversized banner with signature Nightwish artwork, blocking the view of the stage, has been hanging for twenty minutes when the first notes start to be heard. Kai Hatho, who has been Jukka’s successor since 2019, sits on the drums and starts playing the drums alone on stage to accompany the introduction. Gradually, the other members also appear. Then a short change, Floor is on the microphone with a German “Hello Frankfurt” and off we go. Noise is hip. No sign of the successful cancer operation in November. You can only write “Fuck Cancer” and hope that there is nothing left. Radiation therapy is still pending, the Asia tour has to be postponed. But, Nightwish are here and now in the now better filled Festhalle, including open tiers.

Well… as a longtime fan, I had to sympathize with Storytime as well. Yes, solid, vocally anyway, but personally I just miss Anette’s “snotty, cheeky” voice… Well… complaints on a very high level, Floor’s voice is too operatic for me, too trained, but that’s a matter of taste. “Now everything is possible again,” her words to the audience about the first beats of Tribal – and many of the visitors will agree with her. Now the Pyro really comes into play, the matching skulls appear on the background screen, while immediately afterwards it gets more ballad-like again with Élan. “It’s for my daughter” was the announcement and the audience sang along. It doesn’t really bother that the Festhalle once again lives up to the reputation of not being really well suited for such concerts. The double reverberation is probably only noticeable in the tiers. The atmosphere is what is important and it’s good.

On 7 Days to the Wolves, multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley can’t reach Marco Hietala on vocals. It just lacks the depths, the power, the charisma. Unfortunately, the song loses something as a result, as does Dark Chest of Wonders. The background animations switch to burning trees, an indication that the world is on fire all over the place.

Harvest comes very stripped down, Floor just sits on the pedestal and sings the song in a duet with Troy and everything is fine. Everything fits. The voices harmonize, autumnal leaves can be seen in the background, simply a very nice mood before it gets a little faster again with I Want My Tears Back. But here too… Marco is missing. Troy really does a great job, but the “but” remains. If you didn’t know the earlier times, then it would have to be like this. Nemo, an absolute Tarja song, is interpreted by Floor and that’s good for the song and for her too. Adapted to her naturally also trained voice, she sets a new direction; some eras of a Nightwish singer are simply over.

“Are they waiting for Christmas?” Floor asks, asking the audience for “Christmas candles.” So the cellphone lights go on, the lights dim and the Festhalle is suddenly in a romantic mood. How’s the Heart, illuminated by almost only mobile phone lights, in the acoustic version – simply beautiful. Shoemaker take things one step further. The piece maxes out Floor’s voice, towards the end of the piece the sun rises in front of the moon’s surface, opulently staged. Eye and ear are happy.

After Last Ride of the Day, Nightwish proves how long songs can unfold their full effect in a live concert. Ghost Love Score with a good ten minutes leaves the listener in a world of sound and images, which then in the highlight of the evening with The Greatest Show on Earth in full length again pulls out all the musical and pyrotechnic possibilities. A phenomenal rush of images and music is underway, creating a memory that will last. “We were here” as a triple exclamation mark.

On top of that, the accent in the “end credits”. The musicians have all left the stage, the piece Ad Astra is running from the tape, the audience is a bit at a loss, excited, until the band members line up on stage, Floor goes back to the microphone and sings the final part live. That’s goosebumps. Thank you Nightwish for these impressions.

Setlist Nightwish:

  1. Intro (“Music” Ambient & Percussion)
  2. Noise
  3. Storytime
  4. Tribal
  5. Élan
  6. 7 Days to the Wolves
  7. Dark Chest of Wonders
  8. Harvest
  9. I Want My Tears Back
  10. Nemo
  11. How’s the Heart (acoustic)
  12. Sahara
  13. Shoemaker
  14. Last ride of the Day
  15. Ghost Love Score
  16. The Greatest Show on Earth (Full)
  17. Outro: Ad Astra

Co-Author of this report is Patrick of the Webzine Dark Art, which I also work for.

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