Hark all ye faithful, the power metal gods of lore hath again blessed us with a tour of epic proportions!!!
Not since the Hammerfall and EdGuy‘s North American run of ‘05 have I been this psyched to be bombarded with soaring vocals and metallic ballads. This wasn’t so much of a concert as it was a power metal/metallic rock clinic presided over by two of the genre’s heaviest of heavyweights and one of its most promising rising stars.
If you haven’t heard of Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, or Delain… there’s really no reason why you would be reading this review, but if you’re a statistical anomaly who is reading this anyway, then the aforementioned bands should all be on your shortlist of music to investigate.
Recently I missed an opportunity to watch Delain on the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise due to hot tub obligations. Thankfully a hot tub was not an issue tonight, as the band put on a stellar performance which I enjoyed immensely. The Dutch symphonic metal, hard-rock band seem to have carved a nice following for themselves in Montreal since their performance here last year, entering the stage to an eager audience. Opening their set with “Sucker Punch” off their new Lunar Prelude EP was a great choice. It’s an impossibly catchy and tastefully bombastic song that’s quick to captivate any listener. It’s obvious that Delain share quite a few musical elements with Nightwish, but not so much to cry foul in any way. They rest nicely in the Metallic rock category and have clearly excelled in that. A pleasant surprise mid-way through the set was the guest appearance by Montreal native and Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz who poured seething vocals on the track “The Tragedy Of The Commons.” Vocalist Charlotte Wessel’s voice and commanding presence were a big part of their appeal for me; not to take anything away from the other members and their performances, but she stood out the most. Overall a strong performance from a very strong group.
Sonata Arctica have been one of my favourite bands for years, and clearly that sentiment was shared by quite a few people in the audience. They are hardly strangers in the city, and have been selling out shows here for close to ten years. Montreal’s love affair is well documented and reciprocated by the band, and tonight they treated us to one of their stranger performances in recent memory (despite being a little short for my liking). What the set lacked in length they more than made up for with content by blasting through a number of upbeat, older tracks like “Full Moon” and “8th Commandment” to the elation of long-time fans in attendance. Showing off the diversity they’re known for, slower, ballad-esque “The Last Drop Falls” was a beautiful mid-show respite from the high-energy start, and another fan favourite. Surprisingly, the only track from the band’s latest album Pariah’s Child came right at the beginning with “The Wolves Die Young,” although frankly I’m sure most people (including myself) were more than pleased by the set list choices.
Nightwish are an utter anomaly in the metal world for a number of reasons. For one, I would have never imagined that a band like this could have achieved such grandiose and universal appeal amongst metal heads and non metal heads alike, compounded that by the fact that they’re currently on lead singer number three (and still getting bigger.) This is rarely, if ever, seen by a band of this calibre. These clues tells me two things; first, it really doesn’t matter who fronts the band as long as they can sing, because the music is great and will always be the focal point. Second, the combined star-power of the individual members (Tuomas, the keyboardist and songwriter, probably takes a fair share of that power) actually overshadows that of any singer, which itself happens so rarely that ancient civilizations consider it a sign of fertility from the gods.
And thus, to a sold out Montreal crowd, the band that can do no wrong once again did everything right. From their bombastic entrance and first notes, the crowd erupted into pandemonium that didn’t wane in the slightest during the show. The set began with “Shudder Before The Beautiful” and “Yours Is An Empty Hope” off their newest record, Endless Forms Most Beautiful. This served as wonderful introduction to new singer Floor Jansen’s talents, given that those are from her first record with the band. Directly after, she got to show off her mastery of older material when the band played “Ever Dream” from the Century Child album. I’m not a Tarja (first singer) hater per say… BUT, hearing that era of the band’s music live without embellished ad nauseam falsetto vocals was music (hahaha) to my ears. And just like that, with those three songs a strong statement was made and the Floor Jansen supremacy became unquestioned.
A surprise addition to the set list (for me anyway) was “While Your Lips Are Still Red,” which isn’t a Nightwish song per se, but one composed for a movie by keyboardist Tuomas and bassist Marco. Regrettably I wasn’t able to watch the entire song’s performance because I was sobbing uncontrollably in my beer, but what I did see was just how important and potent Marco’s voice is to the Nightwish equation. He immediately makes any song better by adding a vibrant layer and a beautiful juxtaposition to his feminine counterpart.
I was a little upset that there were relatively few songs from the Dark Passion Play album, but I suppose you take the good with the bad and hopefully their set will get overhauled and include a few for their Heavy MTL performance later this year.
And so another Nightwish concert in Montreal went off without incident, and hopefully we will enjoy this current line-up for many years to come.
Written by Paul Ablaze
Photography by Isa Hoyos Ishca Photography
*edited by Kate Erickson