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Wembley Arena, London
Saturday 19th December 2015

Ian Sutherland: Photos by Sean Cameron
ian sutherland


The last time Finland's biggest musical success story Nightwish appeared in the UK they played a few very well attended shows in O2 Academy venues around the country to around a couple of thousand people a night.

This time around they have decided to bring the whole European arena show to a UK venue and have limited themselves to one sold out night at the cavernous Wembley Arena.

After being warmed up by Amorphis and Arch Enemy there is a palpable sense of anticipation from the crowd in the hall as the lights dim and eventually the band launch into 'Shudder Before The Beautiful'.

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Wembley is notorious for having poor sound but from where I am sitting the full bombastic and dramatic fury of the Finnish Symphonic Metallers sound is present. When singer Floor Jansen finally makes her appearance she is greeted with a huge roar and looking the part in her thigh boots and leather shorts delivers the first of many impressive vocals.

Another song from the latest album 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful' namely 'Yours Is An Empty Hope' follows and we get some impressive pyrotechnics to punctuate the song and the live dynamics raise it to a new level compared to the studio version for me.


The story of Nightwish and their singers is well known but for anyone in the arena wondering how Jansen deals with the older material 'Ever Dream' is sung in her own style, hitting all the notes in a demanding song but without the operatic overtones used by Tarja Turunen in the original. Judging by the enthusiastic crowd reaction from a really hyped and up for it audience throughout the song it sounded just fine to most.

Under the guidance of keyboard player and main song writer Tuomas Holopainen Nightwish are all about moving forward and tonight they only delve into the Tarja era of the band five times and even then opt for as many rarely played tracks such as 'While Your Lips Are Still Red' as greatest hits type selections like 'Nemo'.

The stage show itself is impressive with choreographed flames and huge back projection screens illustrating the songs. There is not a huge amount of personality coming through from the stage much of the time for me although there is a big crowd response to anything requested by Jansen or bass player and occasional vocalist Marco Hietala.


'I Want My Tears Back' is a huge anthemic tour de force and when they get into epic mode with the near fourteen minutes of 'The Poet And The Pendulum' it's clear that few people here are worried about any lack of stage presence from much of the band. They just love the music.

Much of 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful' gets an airing and the likes of 'My Walden' and 'Elan' seem to be greeted as warmly as anything else and sound great on the big stage. The celtic sections of the former work particularly well with Troy Donockley's traditional instrumentation getting a chance to shine.


Nightwish are not a band afraid to take chances and it showed tonight when in front of their biggest ever UK audience they missed some of the obvious songs you might have expected (no 'Wish I Had An Angel' for example), played much of the latest album and chose to finish the set with the twenty plus minutes of its' final track 'The Greatest Show On Earth'.

This is an impressive and suitably epic piece of music and featured some great visuals and a fantastic vocal performance from Ms Jansen. The song and much of the album it is from was inspired by the work of controversial scientist Richard Dawkins and they even went as far as getting him to join them on the stage at the end.

That ending was actually very unusual for an arena or any show with the band taking a bow as a recording of the end of the song played behind them, then Dawkins appearing and doing the last part of his narration live. No encores afterwards, just a few bows and the obligatory photograph in front of the crowd.


This show was filmed by the band and if it is for a possible DVD release then they couldn't have wished for a better audience as the twelve thousand plus souls in here loved it and reacted accordingly.

Nightwish are moving on, leaving the singer controversies behind them and judging by tonight's performance, on the way to being bigger than ever. Personally I loved the ambition and the excellent vocal performance from their Dutch interloper but I am no fan of shows in huge barn like venues as this and it looks like that's where you will have to go and catch this band in future.

Shudder Before the Beautiful
Yours Is an Empty Hope
Ever Dream
My Walden
While Your Lips Are Still Red
Weak Fantasy
7 Days to the Wolves
The Poet and the Pendulum
I Want My Tears Back
Ghost Love Score
Last Ride of the Day
The Greatest Show on Earth (feat. Richard Dawkins)

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