Live at The Wiltern

Los Angeles, CA 9/13/2008

Review by Travis Baumann

Nightwish have been an icon in the metal scene for years now. Their pioneering sound combining powerful female vocals, epic keyboards, intricate guitar work and fantastical subject matter has layed the ground work for dozens of bands inspired in their wake.

In recent years their signature style has gone through some changes especially with the departure of world reknowned vocalist, Tarja Turunen. Much was made of this departure and everyone, myself included, thought Nighwish would never be the same. I have seen them once before with the original lead singer and they were amazing.

I am happy to say, however that the new vocalist, Anette Olzon is also very talented and while the operatic quality of their older material is not left fully intact, the power of their music and the great quality of their material is. Their newest album "Dark Passion Play" featured Anette and it is a very good album to say the least.

Live, Nightwish is as impressive as ever. Tuomas on keyboards is the mastermind behind the band and he was in front to the left side of stage. Marco, the bassist and male voice behind the band shared center stage with Anette. Emppu on guitars was set up on the right side of stage but roamed from one side to the other, not one to be contained while Jukka was hidden behind his drum-kit.

The set focused on quite a bit of the newer material but they did do quite a few favorites from previous albums such as "Dark Chest of Wonders", "Wish I had an Angel", and "Wishmaster". Of these only the later was a bit less powerful than with the old singer but "Dark Chest of Wonders" was as great as the last time I saw it live.

Currently my two favorite songs of Nightwish's are "Planet Hell", which unfortunately they did not do, and "7 Days to the Wolves". This song was not played during their main set so I started to fear I would not hear it at all but when they came back for the encore that was the first song they did and it was as awesome as I hoped it would be. I really love that song, it makes me think of the "Dark Tower" novels by Steven King, "The Wolves of Cala" specifically. Since Tuomas wrote all the lyrics through-out their career, the awesome subject matter and ideas behind the band have gone unchanged.

I am glad that Nightwish's following is still growing. The last time they played I was not able to see them because they sold out the House of Blues here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for us, that means a bigger venue and that was The Wiltern.

This has to be the lamest place to see a show I have been in Los Angeles by far. Not only are they insanely strict in where you can stand, for example only bracelet adorned VIP's could even get near the stage, but also in how their photo-passes work. I was escorted to and from the "photo area" which was meerly a wheelchair ramp from the front section to the second section so I was quite removed from the band. I also missed part of each band while I had to relenquish my camera to their office, something I was not happy about doing. On top of that they charge fourteen dollars for a beer!

Complaints of venue aside, both the openers Sonata Arctica and headliners Nightwish were awesome live and I really loved hearing and seeing them. Besides the forementioned highlight of "7 Days to the Wolves" another great part of the set was when Marko and Emppu came out with acoustic guitars and sat down on chairs while Anette sat on the drum riser and they did a very mellow but entrancing acoustic song which was really cool.

After which Anette got everybody rowdy again by moving from one side of the stage to the other and getting the audience cheering and holding up their arms in salutes of enthusiasm. She is quite cute and really seems like a lot more fun than Tarja, who was always so serious and "professional" in her demeanor.

Rest assured, Nightwish are still the awesome, powerful band we all came to love and put on just as exciting of a show as they ever have. Despite an "End of an Era" as it was put, the new "Era" of Nightwish is just as good and worth checking out on CD and live if you have not done so.

Change is hard and having a front-figure of a favorite group swapped out is definitely not easy but a band like this makes it worth altering your own predisposition and giving them a chance. As long as the core of the band remains intact they still put out the amazing work they always have, just with a slightly different voice and appearance and put frankly, Anette is quite easy on the eyes and more importantly on the ears as well.

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