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Nightwish – Wembley Arena, London – 19th December 2015

Tonight was my third time seeing Nightwish on this tour, and having seen how good they are at the moment I was really looking forward to seeing this, the last date on their European tour, and the first time they’ve brought their full show over to the UK.  It’s probably the biggest gig of the tour for them as Wembley is sold out tonight.

Tonight’s set from Amorphis includes several songs from their latest album, Under the red cloud, as well as songs from earlier albums – it’s the same set they’ve played throughout the tour.  It’s a set that has been well chosen to suit the audience and which has gone down well in Europe so it’s weighted towards their newer more progressive sound rather than the older heavier material. As with the European dates, they go down extremely well, although I’m fairly sure many of the people there tonight have never listened to Amorphis before.

Amorphis setlist:

Death of a King
Sacrifice
Hopeless days
Bad blood
Silver bride
The four wise ones
House of sleep

Next up was Arch Enemy – by far the heaviest band on the bill, and one whose presence on the bill sparked lots of moaning online from Nightwish fans in the UK.  Despite this, the venue was fairly full for their set and and the band went down very well.  Arch Enemy kick things off as they mean to go on – lots of heavy guitar riffs, Alissa’s growling vocals and high energy delivery.  Within seconds of coming on stage Alissa is leaping in the air and burning more energy in their 50 minute set than most people do in a week at the gym.  Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis on guitar give us both heavy riffs and lovely solos although the solos are kept short and they don’t waste time on long solos that would slow the pace of the show and instead they use their time to play as many songs as they can.  Alissa isn’t just a great singer (even if growling vocals arent to the taste of everyone), she is also an exceptional front-woman and really works hard to get the crowd going.  A superb performance and one that went down very well with a huge number of people in the crowd.

Arch enemy setlist:

Yesterday is dead and gone
War eternal
Ravenous
Stolen life
You will know my name
As the pages burn
Avalanche
No gods, no masters
Under black flags we march
Nemesis

After Arch enemy finished, a curtain dropped to hide the stage while the crew got the stage ready for Nightwish.  When the house lights finally went out, the curtain dropped and the band got the show off to a start with a bang – literally as the pyro explosions deafened people.  From then on it was a show that really was hard to fault – the band are in superb form and you could see from watching them that they were having the time of their lives.  Tuomas played his keyboards from a riser that gave him a view of the rest of the band as well as making him clearly visible from the crowd, Marco and Emppu on bass and guitar both moved around the stage a lot, and Troy Donockley, now a full member of the band, sat on a rock and played his pipes, whistles and guitar as well as adding some vocals.  Floor Jansen commanded the stage and moved around a lot as she put in a superb vocal performance.  She’s got a tough job – singing songs written around Tarja’s voice as well as the newer material sung by Anette, but it’s a sign of her versatility that Floor handles all the material with ease.  She’s roved to be a superb addition to Nightwish.

While most big bands with a complex stage show tend to stick to the same setlist for the entire tour, Nightwish have been changing things round almost every night, but tonight’s show is being filmed and recorded so they have stuck to the same setlist for the final few nights of the tour.  Alongside the classics such as “Nemo” and “Ghost love score” and newer favourites such as “Last ride of the day” and plenty of songs from the new album, we also get songs such as “While your lips are still red” which are rarely played – there’s something for everyone in the set tonight.

While some bands use a big show to distract from how bad they are (Motley Crue), Nightwish have a big show that just adds to the experience – they could have played the show with no pyro etc and still gone down a storm.  What a show it is though – flames, pyro, explosions, CO2 jets, confetti cannons and LED screens make it spectacular visually, and with slower songs like “Greatest show on earth” the visuals really add to the enjoyment.

To end the night, after “Greatest show on earth ended”, a guest was brought out – Richard Dawkins, who features strongly in the album.

The Greatest show on earth?  Well I don’t think many fans at this gig would argue if Nightwish chose to describe their gig as that – it really was a truly amazing night.  Based on this tour, Iron Maiden need to be worried – they’re going to have to work harder than normal if they’re to successfully follow Nightwish at Download next year.

Nightwish setlist:

Shudder before the beautiful
Yours is an empty hope
Ever dream
Story time
My walden
While Your Lips Are Still Red
Élan
Weak Fantasy
7 Days to the Wolves
Alpenglow
The Poet and the Pendulum
Nemo
I Want My Tears Back

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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