At The Carling Academy, Newcastle U.K., March 30, 2008

Imagine the scenario. You’ve just released the biggest selling album of your career, toured the world playing sold out shows wherever you stop and finished the tour with a triumphant homecoming concert that was recorded for posterity. What is the last thing you’d do? Fire your iconic lead singer?? Surely not?? That’d be commercial suicide!!

Well, that’s exactly what happened to Nightwish. Lead singer Tarja Turunen was given her marching orders at the end of their very last show in Helsinki on October 21, 2005 to the amazement of the Rock world. Then began months of speculation as to her replacement with many big names being linked to the vacancy. After trawling through hundreds of applications, Nightwish settled on the talents of previously unknown Anette Olzon.

nightwish Any fears as to whether or not Nightwish would fail to hit the heights of their previous Once opus were soon allayed on the release of Dark Passion Play, one of the finest releases of last year, which came across as even more ambitious and bombastic than its predecessor, and in Anette a completely different style of singer to take them into the next stage of their career. Anette offers a sweeter, cleaner vocal than her predecessor, and with a less Operatic approach, it may at first be a little hard for some diehard Nightwish fans to take, but there’s no doubt that she possesses a great voice and range and with a more accessible style, this might just be the factor that breaks them to a whole new audience.

Being able to perform on album is one thing, but could Nightwish and their new singer pull it off live? Well the answer is a resounding “Yes,” on the back of this performance.

nightwish The hauntingly beautiful siren-like choral opening was soon eclipsed by the opening number “Bye Bye Beautiful” as Anette strolled onto the stage, clad in a basic garb of t-shirt and cargo trousers. A little less flamboyant than Tarja perhaps, but she certainly managed to stamp her own charming personality on the songs.

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the set was made up with material from Dark Passion Play with the commercial leaning of the single “Amarath” vying for pole position in the set with the absolutely magnificent “The Pit and The Pendulum,” arguably the most ambitious and grandiose song Nightwish have tackled to date. A searing 14-minute epic of many twists and turns. The performance of the band really reached a peak with this giving them the chance to flex their muscles. The song, which weaves through so many emotions along the way and creates vivid imagery with the changing moods and tempos, could quite easily become the soundtrack to a big budget Hollywood fantasy blockbuster.

nightwish Anette makes a pretty good go of the earlier Nightwish material too. “Dark Chest of Wonders” thundered along at a fair pace. At first she seemed a little nervous, but once she got into her stride she visibly grew in confidence. Sure, it’s a little strange hearing this sung by someone different to Tarja for the first time but you simply can’t deny that she does a fine job of bringing a new interpretation to old favorites.

“Dead To The World” with its towering, brooding riff and Eastern flavored ambience featured dynamics missing from so many bands today. “The Islander” featured a guest appearance by Troy Donackley on the Celtic pipes, evoking images of Rob Roy and other heroes of Scottish Folklore, while “Last Of The Wilds” featured Troy for his second contribution alongside mainman and chief songwriter Tuomas Holopainen in an uplifting Celtic instrumental before the band returned with the vintage heavyweight “Kingslayer.”

nightwish As the main set ended with the ever popular “Nemo”, 2000 hands leapt in the air simultaneously to clap along throughout. Quite a sight.

Returning to the stage with the awesome majesty of “Seven Days to The Wolves”, one of the highlights of a performance of many highs and this was followed swiftly by the classic “Wishmaster”. Rounding the show off in style was the inimitable “I Wish I Had An Angel” which shook the hall to its very foundations.

Many had their doubts about the viability of a Nightwish without Tarja but with an immense album behind them and a hugely successful tour under their belt it is clear that Nightwish have confounded their doubters and look set to conquer all before them.

For more on Nightwish visit the Nightwish website



  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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