Nightwish - Tristania - Manchester Academy 1 - Live Review

Nightwish and Tristania

Friday 19 th February 2005

Manchester Academy 1

There can’t be many who have failed to notice that we are in the midst of a cold snap with some seriously arctic conditions afoot, but what they do not realise is that the cold snap came early in Manchester, as we experienced a Scandinavian invasion. Norway’s Tristania and Finland’s Nightwish had arrived to play on the same bill and to provide an operatic, dark metal show to end all shows. Tristania opened the night, confidently striding onto the stage like a 4 piece, traditional metal band, but there was something missing, that was until the band’s striking operatic vocalist and resident siren Vibeke Stene entered the stage turning the heads of many a dark-clad audience member.

Having heard the band’s dark, operatic and heavy sounds, it struck me as a cleverly worked and hard sound to replicate on stage, but

Nightwish - Tristania - Manchester Academy 1 - Live Review
Nightwish - Tristania - Manchester Academy 1 - Live Review

the five piece took hold and reproduced the powerful nature perfectly. Their haunting moods, vocals and electric sounds echoing through new songs The Wretched and Circus, which reflected their dark storytelling moods like a swirling snow storm echoing around the room.

The lights went down and the echoing chants of “Nightwish, Nightwish,” were joined by excited cheers and whistles as one by one keyboardist Tuomas, drummer Jukka, guitarist Emppu (guitars) and bassist Marco strode onto the stage, which continued long after, in anticipation knowing that the lineup was not yet complete. A deep and powerful bass growl sounded around the room, matching the crowds expectation, and the applause grew to rapturous realms, as singer Tarja made her entrance clad in a stunning red ball gown. The band was in business, and when the opening notes of “Come Cover Me” sounded, all anticipation melted to sheer appreciation of the dark symphonic metal moods, which came thick and fast.

“The Siren” continued the exhilarating show, with the crunching riffs showing that the band still rock hard, echoing one of the many heavier moments, and strongly exhibited weaving guitar melodies and the band’s impenetrable chemistry.

Customarily when bands cover songs, it’s a fellow rock artist’s track. Nightwish obviously love the element of surprise, as the familiar eerie chords to the magical “The Phantom Of The Opera” shone out as ever, proving a perfect choice, frenetic, dark, magical and phantom like, and cleverly done as a frenetic metal song, but well suited to Tarja’s piercing operatic vocals. For those that prefer their covers a little less obscure, the classic choice of Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes” went down a treat, as it was the turn of the male part of the band to take the lead, the result? A very melodic and traditional Pink Floyd sounding version, spicing it up slightly on with the nature of the metal-like vocals, which were notably calmer.

Not to be outdone, next came the turn of Tarja, who kept the serene mood, with her beautiful orchestral version of Finnish ballad “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan” which strongly shows off her impressive vocal range, and reminds you of her formal training in opera.

The excitement climbed back up a notch as the full band returned to go out with a bang, and what better way to rekindle the electric atmosphere, than with slightly more catchy, but hardly mainstream “Nemo” with it’s heavenly orchestral touches. The appreciative audience took on a swift mood change, as a lively pit formed, for the atmospheric “I Wish I Had An Angel” a powerful metal track, which really shows off the breathtaking chemistry between Tarja and co-vocalist Marco Hietal. The intriguing track reminds you how well the band explore emotion and emanate poetry vocally, lyrically, and musically.

And if that wasn’t enough, as mystical as the song were the effects, mysterious dry ice, a calming rain effect which fell across the stage, and frenetic strobe lights took the gig to show level, but did not detract from the compelling music.

Katherine Tomlinson