Nightwish has been one of my favorite bands since a bit after they released Once, which is arguably their most popular album. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to see them live for the first time during their Imaginaerum World Tour here in Puerto Rico. Overall, I enjoyed the show a lot. There were some surprises for me, some things I didn't like, and lots that I did. But overall, it was a pretty good concert.
First, kudos to the producers for the punctuality. The opening act started exactly at 9:00pm and finished roughly at 9:30pm. And then, Nightwish started at 10:00pm exactly, so there was little to no wait for everything. On that note, the opening band was guitarist Ramón Ortíz' solo project. Ortiz, who is the guitarist from Puya and Ankla, made a solid effort, and the crowd responded well, at least as far as opening acts go. The sound was muddled though, and although the singer he used for his last two or three songs had some moments, he wasn't that great either. Still, I enjoyed it.
|Replacement singer Floor Jansen (credit: rjforster)|
My first surprise was the absence of singer Anette Olzon from the line-up. Unbeknownst to me, Olzon, who had served as Nightwish's lead singer since 2007, had departed with the band in October right in the middle of the tour. In her place was singer Floor Jansen, whom I had never listened before. Still, Jansen projected a unique domain of the stage and a commanding presence that was enough to forget Olzon. Nothing against her, but Olzon always felt like an odd choice for me because she lacked the vocal abilities of previous singer Tarja Turunen. And although she knew how to handle her style, her vocal limits were obvious, and she didn't quite fit wit what Nightwish had been so far musically. Jansen, on the other hand, has a more impressive voice that is closer to Tarja's than Olzon. And as proved through the concert, she was a perfect for the band.
As far as the set list goes, I have to say I haven't listened to most of Nightwish's new album so my main expectations were with them singing classics. Still, the opening song ("Storytime") was a pretty good choice to kick off things. After that, they went with two of their greatest hits: "Dark Chest of Wonders" and "I Wish I Had an Angel". I think this was my peak of the concert because of them being among my favorite songs from the band, and judging from the response, the crowd agrees. I think the only song that even came close to the response those two had was another classic "Wishmaster", which was the second to last song from the night.
But that doesn't mean the concert was bad. Far from it. New songs like "I Want My Tears Back", which was another highlight, were intercalated with classics like "Nemo" and "Planet Hell", among others. Slower songs like "The Siren" and "Ghost Love Score" sounded pretty good on Jansen's voice. Bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala's voice was also flawless. As for the sound, it was better than with the opening act, but still there were moments were there could've been improvement.
My biggest beefs with the concert were the following: first, they didn't come back for an encore! I mean, what band nowadays denies their audience an encore? The crowd was left there chanting and waiting, looking at each other. That pissed me off.* And second, they didn't sing one of my favorite songs: "Bye Bye Beautiful". Considering the song is from the first studio album that Olzon recorded, maybe they consciously stayed away from those; but that song is easily on my Top 5 of Nightwish songs. All in all, the band sung over 15 songs during almost two hours, but an additional 5 minutes would've been the icing.
*Note: Thanks to the people at the Nightwish English Forum for clarifying something to me. The absence of an encore was a conscious decision from the band. I wasn't aware of that.
(Credits: The first picture was taken by me. Floor Jansen's picture was taken by rjforster. Last promotional picture belongs to Nightwish)