Originally Published 2/22/16
Finnish symphonic metallers Nightwish kicked off the second round of their North American Endless Forms Most Beautiful tour on Friday night at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey. As I’ve been accustomed to, Nightwish delivered yet another non-stop set, with few words between songs, letting their music speak for them. Together with support from Delain and Sonata Arctica, Nightwish treated the sold-out crowd to much of the same set list that appeared on the first leg of the Endless Forms tour, with minimal changes that we’ll get to later.
Let’s talk about Delain and Sonata Arctica for a minute. This was my second time seeing Delain, as I was at opening night of the first leg of Nightwish’s North American Endless Forms tour last year at Hammerstein Ballroom when Sabaton was on the tour. Maybe it was being much closer to the action this time around, but Delain, who failed to impress me last year, put on a fine set to warm up the crowd, with songs such as Army of Dolls and We Are The Others, which was my favorite song from their set. Delain still needs to win me over, maybe seeing them on a headline tour will do the trick, but they were definitely better on Friday than they were last April.
On to Sonata Arctica, who I was entirely unfamiliar with prior to this show. What a fun band to watch, that’s really all I can say. For a band that was unknown to me, I came away very intrigued by their music and they earned a new fan with their over the top showmanship and kick ass songs like The Wolves Die Young and Don’t Say A Word. I honestly don’t know much about the band, but I do know that I’m going to be paying very close attention to them on their headline tour with Leaves’ Eyes in the Spring. Sonata Arctica have a fan for life in this writer.
Before we get to the main attraction and the reason I drove all the way to New Jersey, let me preface this with full disclosure: I have a been a massive Nightwish fan since the first time I heard Gethsemane in 2005, and have always been drawn back to them even in the angry aftermath of not one, but two lineup changes. After swearing off the band when Tarja left and again when Anette Olzon quit abruptly two weeks after seeing them live for the first time in 2012, I found myself back for more the first time I heard Floor Jansen open her mouth on Dark Chest of Wonders from the Showtime, Storytime live CD from their Wacken Open Air performance in 2013.
Now that we have my undying fandom out of the way, let’s get this show on the road. Nightwish’s opening-night performance, though it came with much delay, was exactly what you’d expect if you’ve ever been to a Nightwish concert. 90+ minutes of non-stop symphonic metal with the unbelievable vocals of the always amazing Floor Jansen, who has been on her A game seemingly every night since her days in After Forever. This being my third time seeing Nightwish live, and owning two of their three live DVDs, I knew exactly what I was in for, but came away slightly disappointed that they ran most of the same set list from the first Endless Forms tour, and would have been much happier had they played Dark Chest of Wonders or Over The Hills and Far Away. They did however keep Stargazers on the set list, which is a nice change of pace and really highlights Floor’s range. The additions of 7 Days to the Wolves and While Your Lips Are Still Red were nice surprises and welcome additions to a set list that could have included any number of hits, as I’d never heard either song live and can’t remember the last time I listened to them, though I would have preferred something along the lines of The Kinslayer in place of either song.
The surprise of the night in my opinion was the decision to close the show with The Toolmaker from The Greatest Show on Earth, rather than Last Ride of the Day, which had been the closing song for about 4 years now, and the biggest disappointments are finding out that the band played Bless The Child in Montreal last night, and the exclusion of Amaranthe. Ghost Love Score, however, makes up for any grievances I might have with an otherwise amazing set list. There’s just something about Ghost Love Score that gives me chills every time, and the massive eruption from the live crowd at the end of it is always worth the wait.
All told, even with the hour-long delay in opening doors, it was well worth the wait. Nightwish delivered once again despite the somewhat questionable set list and gave me plenty to be happy about on the drive home. My only complaint is that I wish they had played more of their hits and left the obscure songs on the back wall, but it’s hard to find fault in watching one of my favorite bands kick ass live for the third time. Rumor has it there’s new material in the works, hopefully for next year, and I personally cannot wait to see them for a fourth time.
Check out our photo gallery below. Photos by Sean Murphy: