Live at The Wiltern Theater
Los Angeles, CA
May 20th, 2022
Review and photos by Travis Baumann
Nightwish are one of the originators of symphonic metal and have been a staple of the scene since 1996. After multiple attempts to return delayed by the pandemic, they finally make it back to Los Angeles with a two night tour-ending showcase at the Wiltern Theater.
This band represents a huge changing point for me personally, introducing a whole new musical genre that I had previously not explored - I fell entirely in love. Many years later, they still hold that place in my heart, but I can honestly say it is not nostalgia talking when I say they were better than ever tonight.
Taking center stage is the amazing Floor Jansen, looking absolutely magnificent in a steam-punk styled dress with matching boots. Her hair and make-up looked Hollywood perfect, she was stunning; so tall and glamorous, it's as if she walked straight out of movie.
All of this adoration doesn't even compare to what could be said about her vocal talents and skill of delivery. She dominated the stage with huge arm gestures, intense eye contact, and a physical presence that filled the large theater.
Floor is not alone in this great endeavor, Tuomas Holopainen, the master-mind of Nightwish, stood on a riser behind her with multiple keyboards, invoking the lush orchestrated symphonic sound that they are known for with his skilled gestures.
Emppu Vuorinen supplies the metal part of the equation with his guitar work. Moving between heavy riffs to head-bang to and driving tempos that escalate the energy, he lays a fundamental power to the band that takes it to that level beyond opera and cinematic movements and defines symphonic metal.
Troy Donockley is also instrumental in this elevation, as he brings all of the traditional and folk instruments in to the mix as well as the male vocals when they come in to play. Troy sits on the back riser to the side of Tuomas and plays a range of instruments from Uilleann pipes to a stringed instrument called a bouzouki.
Kai Hahto has drummed for them since 2014 but became a permanent member right before the pandemic. Obviously all the long-time fans were saddened by the departure of Marko when he chose to leave, but the show must go on and currently bass guitar duties are being handled by Jukka Koskinen (although the vocal parts are being done by Troy or Floor, who did a great job taking on these crucial verses).
Everyone around me stood enraptured by the performance. It was an enormous set list, spanning 22 years of releases in seventeen songs. I started listening to them on "Wishmaster" in 2000 and have loved every album since so could not be happier with their choices tonight.
I have had the privilege of seeing Nightwish quite a few times over the years and with all of the different lead singers they have had. This was absolutely at the top. I was once told that this was Floor's destiny to sing for Nightwish and I can't argue with that sentiment.
The set list hit so many of my personal bests it was uncanny. Between "Planet Hell" and "7 Days to the Wolves" I have not been able to stop thinking about the performance, but on top of that, "Dark Chest of Wonders" and "I Want My Tears Back" keep running through my head day and night (and that is not a complaint).
The Wiltern was packed with one of the widest groupings of fans I have ever seen. Hardcore metal heads with their horns in the air were in the company of octogenarians pushing walkers (wearing a top hat complete with long pheasant feather). Young girls with their fathers potentially at their first concert next to gnarled dudes in face paint wearing jackets covered in black metal patches that go to every show. I love metal, especially this sub-genre and the crowd it draws.
I appreciate music in general and everything on this site is here for a reason so it can seem that I love every band I review, and to a point I do, but that cannot diminish true greatness when I point it out. Nightwish embody this magnitude to the fullest and should be on eveyone's bucket list.
She Is My Sin
7 Days to the Wolves
Dark Chest of Wonders
I Want My Tears Back
How's the Heart? (acoustic with Floor and Troy)
Last Ride of the Day
Ghost Love Score
The Greatest Show on Earth
All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World: Ⅷ. Ad Astra
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