Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall, Chicago (US)

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NIGHTWISH / SABATON / DELAIN

Date: 18th April, 2015
Venue: Concord Music Hall
Ticket: $44.50 (€40)
Promoter: n/a


Even though there was a business trip scheduled for the following day (there’d be no sleeping in between), there was no way to miss this touring package also considering that NIGHTWISH had released a pretty awesome album, having Mrs. Floor Jansen behind the mic. This would be the fourth time watching live the Finnish band and the third one with a new singer, so I was extremely excited because after all, Floor seemed like a more appropriate singer for NIGHTWISH. The Chicago (and not only) NIGHTWISH fans shared the same enthusiasm with me, since four hours before the doors-opening they had formed quite a long line. And considering that this show had been sold out, then it’s safe to say that the otherwise really nice venue was kind of small to host all this event, so I hope there will be a rerun pretty soon.

After battling the cold air, we made it inside the venue and realized that the stage was kind of small for NIGHTWISH and also for SABATON who ‘hate’ standing at one spot for more than just a few seconds. On the other hand, the two different levels and the height of the stage offered a nice looking view from almost every spot.

Following the schedule to the letter and after the short intro of “Mother Machine”, the female fronted DELAIN took over the stage and to my surprise were greeted with great enthusiasm because I didn’t know that “The Human Contradiction” had made an impact on the US market. I mean, last time I watched DELAIN on US soil was as an opening act for KAMELOT and honestly, they didn’t do much. Apparently this show was a different story and I also think the band has gained confidence and a more personal performing character. Of course, Charlotte Wessels carries most of the performing weight on her shoulders wearing the hugest of smiles having as powerful wingmen guitarist Timo Somers and bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije who kept changing sides in any given chance. “Thank you so much and please keep those hands in the air” said Charlotte before the even groovier “Get The Devil Out Of Me” that also urged the first rows to start jumping up and down (the way the floor was oscillating was kind of creepy and at the same time exciting). “Army Of Dolls” kept the already gathered momentum with more singing along being on pretty much the same spectrum with WITHIN TEMPTATION and this is being said in a positive way. It is great listening such a versatile female voice with the required power to back up Metal music, even though in the case of DELAIN the music is very melodic with lots of keyboards. Like every opening act should do, DELAIN did not waste time to chit-chat and hit the very responsive audience back-to-back with the heavier “Stardust” and the mid-tempo “Electricity” during which Charlotte nailed the higher pitches with sniper precision. “Thank you so much Chicago, we’d love to stay here forever but we have to clear the stage for SABATON and NIGHTWISH Charlotte added just before “We Are The Others” reflecting the enthusiastic response DELAIN got that night and I am sure the band earned many fans. Yeah, it’s great seeing the opening act hitting the stage with such energy levels because it gets everyone into the concert mood.

DELAIN setlist:

01. “Mother Machine”
02. “Get The Devil Out Of Me”
03. “Army Of Dolls”
04. “Stardust”
05. “Electricity”
06. “Not Enough”
07. “We Are The Others”

DELAIN

Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Delain @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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The stage preparations didn’t last long and everything was ready to host the military-themed SABATON who have been testing the US waters for quite a long time. Yeah, I have seen them many times live with different audiences and, to be honest, I don’t quite understand why they haven’t gained a bigger following here in the US to grant them a headlining set. Anyway, “Ghost Division” was the first tune that night and as always the Swedes stormed the stage like it was the middle of the set, skipping entirely the warming period. Of course, Joakim was spearheading the SABATON onstage festivities wearing his trademark sunglasses and a huge smile as he was getting fueled by the audience which kept the same energy levels with DELAIN. Ok, there was a misunderstanding in the photo-pit (apparently more photo-passes had been issued), so I had to watch the first two songs from the side, but at least, I got the chance for the first aerobic Metal tunes with the jumping-up-and-down “To Hell And Back”. It’s always great to witness how SABATON are telling all these military stories which such mood-lifting and catchy tunes, so again I don’t understand why they haven’t made a bigger impact on this side of the Atlantic. Of course, there were the classic jokes by Joakim but in perfect honesty and considering the short time given, I’d prefer another song in place of the “I can also play the guitar” sequence before “Resist And Bite”. Or maybe it is just me feeling that way because I already knew this drill because everyone seemed to have fun with the triple-guitar duel. “Uprising” saw some nice fist-pumping action (yeah, the Polish metalheads had something to do with this), while “Night Witches” was welcomed with a loud cheers and lots of moshing action, even though having a live keyboard player would have made it even better.

Following the trademark D-Day speech by Joakim, it was time for the most characteristic aerobic Metal tunes and, of course, I am referring to “Primo Victoria”. Can you really resist joining the Swedes jumping-up-and-down following Joakim’s vocal invitation to “Jump”? “After comes one of the best Metal bands in the world” were the words the always-smiling Joakim chose to introduce the final song of the set that was the usual suspect named “Metal Crüe”. I hope that SABATON will soon break the hard-shell of the US market and grant us with a full headlining set because it’s about time to listen more tunes live. Still, SABATON performed great as I was actually expecting!

SABATON setlist:

01. “Ghost Division”
02. “To Hell And Back”
03. “Carolus Rex”
04. “Soldier Of 3 Armies”
05. “Resist And Bite”
06. “Swedish Pagans”
07. “Uprising”
08. “Night Witches”
09. “Primo Victoria”
10. “Metal Crüe”

SABATON

Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Sabaton @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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And yes, it was time for the main act, and the venue felt packed with excitement while the stage crew was putting the final touches. Ok, the wait took more than I’d like, especially when there was absolutely nothing happening onstage, although I totally understand the need to stick to the schedule. But everything was forgotten the moment the lights went out and the intro brought NIGHTWISH onstage who kicked the set with the awesome “Shudder Before The Beautiful” that even though it tackles a really religion-sensitive matter (especially here in the States), it was welcomed with open arms and lots of enthusiasm, especially when Floor entered the stage. It’s amazing how quickly Floor adapted to her fronting NIGHTWISH role and how much confidence she has gained since the last time I watched her with REVAMP. Without trying to be someone else and without being in a specific role, the gifted singer captivated us with not only her onstage presence but with her most powerful singing. It seems like the universe conspired to get her in this band because her addition was almost a last-minute solution during the US tour in 2012. Without spending a single time in talking, NIGHTWISH continued with “Yours Is An Empty Hope” and this time it was Emppu Vuorinen’s turn to lead the way with this super smooth guitar work. And, of course, Emppu was smiling like he does all the time, establishing a clear path of communication with all the fans, no matter where they stand. I mean, the way he looks at the crowd and smiles, it feels like he is addressing to every single NIGHTWISH fan. Marco and Tuomas ‘filled’ the stage-right with their dominating presence being the perfect partners in crime to Floor who was nailing with amazing power the higher singing pitches of this song. Last but definitely not least was Kai Hahto who was called to fill-in for drummer Jukka Nevalainen who is currently being treated for insomnia. I have no idea how Kai did this but he gave us the impression that he has been a longtime member of NIGHTWISH as he was hitting the drum-skins like there was no tomorrow.

So far, it was a jaw-dropping performance by Floor but the really good stuff came when NIGHTWISH visited the older albums with “Amaranth” being the first one from “Dark Passion Play”; first of all, I want to state that I really like what Anette did on that album, considering the pressure she had endured as Tarja’s replacement. But with Floor, this song got the power it was missing, and one could only understand by comparing the two voices. I guess what most of the fans were saying about Anette not being the perfect fit for NIGHTWISH were proven absolutely right because “Amaranth” sounded awesome and better than the studio version. As if this was not enough, Floor got the final seal of approval during “She Is My Sin” where the soprano vocals are needed. Ok, I won’t claim that she reached Tarja’s levels (excuse me, but the comparison is inevitable) but she did awesome during the most demanding chorus lines of this song and at the same time confirmed what Tuomas said about her, being a versatile singer. In other words, NIGHTWISH can pretty much include any song from all the eras and this excellent news. And then it was time for the second addition in the NIGHTWISH lineup to get approved, so Troy Donockley took some time to introduce “My Walden” with a short story from the road that went like this: “I was in a bar and I heard two guys talking about a most recent NIGHTWISH concert and one of them said: it was great seeing this band with the guitars, the keyboards and the ovarian pipes”... Yeah, this was a good laugh and at the same time introduced Troy's super-relaxed character and striking confidence onstage but really everything was forgotten the moment the vocals harmonies and the pipe melodies kicked in - just perfect! And not forget the fantastic break somewhere in the middle of it.

The only complaint I have from the latest NIGHTWISH album was that Marco didn’t sing as much as I'd love, so I really enjoyed his moment on the limelight starting “The Islander” on his own. The audience joined him right away creating one more climax moment, even though the song itself is a ballad. This nice song-triplet was topped off with some flute melodies and more singing-along for the most catchy “Élan”. During the intro for “Weak Fantasy”, I had the chance to have a good look at Kai's killer-looking drum-kit with the glow-in-the-dark paint-work and then got into headbanging mood with this heavy tune. By the way, Marco’s bass/guitar combo was another killer-looking prop doing absolutely justice to this destined to be hit-song. In fact, from this song and on, the setlist gained in terms of heaviness and speed, hitting us with minimum-in-between breaks with “Storytime” and, of course, “I Want My Tears Back”. “It’s good to have this song back on the setlist because it’s been a while” Floor said as a short into for the awesome and chanting-along “Stargazers”. And in case you’re wondering about how she did on this demanding song, let me tell you that she did great and really, there is no need to question her abilities from now on; case is closed - NIGHTWISH have found a singer for many years to come. And in case you still don’t believe me, then “Sleeping Sun” will seal the deal and in hindsight I think this was the highest moment of the set, even though this is another ballad. And yes, the singing-along by the still-going strong audience was the magical icing on this cake.

The regular set was ended on the highest of notes with the two chapters of “The Greatest Show On Earth” and it was extremely entertaining seeing everyone having and not caring if a revolution theory is messing up with their religious beliefs (it doesn’t have to). Floor was singing wearing a huge smile, so I guess she was feeling the audience unconditional approval and gave us goosebumps during the “we were here” part. The time for the only encore of the night and hearing the loud voices of almost everyone inside the venue I knew it wouldn’t take long for the Finns to return onstage. “Ghost Love Score” and “Last Ride Of The Day” (what a fitting title to end the show that was) put this excellent show into the history pages. Ignoring the fact that I spent lots of words talking about Floor, I cannot but to comment about the loud cheer she received after the high-pitched scream during the climaxing end of “Ghost Of Love Score” that sent shivers down my spine. The band is in an excellent condition and it doesn’t require a detective’s set of eyes to see the chemistry between the musicians involved here, so I am sure only good things are about to come from NIGHTWISH. It goes without saying that you should check them out in the first given chance and then cross your fingers that the second North US leg will include Chicago and in a bigger venue. Can we have the Euro pyro show too, please?

NIGHTWISH setlist:

01. “Shudder Before The Beautiful”
02. “Yours Is An Empty Hope”
03. “Amaranth”
04. “She Is My Sin”
05. “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”
06. “My Walden”
07. “The Islander”
08. “Élan”
09. “Weak Fantasy”
10. “Storytime”
11. “Ever Dream”
12. “I Want My Tears Back”
13. “Stargazers”
14. “Sleeping Sun”
15. “The Greatest Show On Earth” (Chapter II: Life &… More )
16. “Ghost Love Score”
17. “Last Ride Of The Day”

NIGHTWISH

Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Nightwish @ Concord Music Hall (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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