Nightwish has seen multiple rotations at the frontwoman position and with their newest album, “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”, Floor Jansen of After Forever/Revamp took the helm. In support of this new album, Nightwish scheduled a massive tour across the US with support from Delain and Sonata Arctica and this show like many of the others along this touring cycle was completely sold out.
Due to traffic, I was unable to catch Delain’s set. For those unfamiliar with Delain, they are a symphonic metal band formed by former Within Temptation keyboardist, Martijn Westerholt in 2002. They have been growing in popularity over the years and heard from many sources that they played really well that night.
The second band set to perform that night was Finland’s Sonata Arctica. This was my first chance to see them again since the last time I saw them in 2008 at The Wiltern in Los Angeles. Even though their set was very short that night, they did touch upon some of their biggest hits like “The Cage” and “Don’t Say A Word” as well as playing some newer songs like “The Wolves Die Young”. Tony Kakko, the vocalist for the band, provided a ton of energy and enthusiasm to the songs while keeping the crowd entertained. He was very involved with the audience and even joked about talking too much and led a chant with the crowd to say “shut the **** up Tony!”. Musically, the band was on it that show as everything blended together perfectly and did justice to their songs. While they bring something new and exciting with every performance, they ended their set in the same manner as they always do; by playing the “Vodka Song” and getting the crowd to chant along with the lyrics.
After a fantastic, but short set from Sonata Arctica, Nightwish was the last band to perform. With Jukka Nevalainen still out of Nightwish due to his issues with insomnia, Kai Hahto of Wintersun manned the drums for their most recent album and this tour. Without physically looking back at the drums, you could not even tell it was a different drummer because Kai filled the role so well and performed the drum parts flawlessly. Musically, the band sounded absolutely fantastic and played with the energy and passion of the records.
While Nightwish did play a great set, there was still some issues to me. While Floor Jansen performed some deep cuts from all eras of Nightwish, some of the emotions portrayed did not fit. On some of the songs that are slower or had a darker emotion felt cheery with Floor performing with a huge smile on her face. It is great to see Floor Jansen enjoying the work she is doing and makes it enjoyable for the audience, I feel it would have had a stronger impact if she showed a matching emotion with the song. This is an extremely theatrical style band and I would have loved to see more of that in Floor’s performance.
Other than little minor grips with setlist choice (the inner fan in me wanted to see some other songs choices, but I digress), the show was fantastic. Seeing some of the songs performed like “She Is My Sin” and “Ghost Love Score” was an absolute pleasure, especially since Floor provided a nice blend between Tarja’s vocal range and power and Annette’s clarity and joy.
Sonata Arctica and Nightwish proved again they are staples of the symphonic and power metal scenes and left the crowd satisfied with a great show. Special thanks to Nuclear Blast and the staff at The Grove of Anaheim for letting us cover this event.
For a gallery of photos taken by me, check them out below.