Live Review: Nightwish, Delain and Sonata Arctica in Pittsburgh

If you’re a fan of female fronted symphonic metal then you no doubt know Nightwish. A band that single handedly took the genre to whole new levels of greatness with their breakout album Once in 2004.

Since that time the band has undergone some significant line-up changes starting with the departure of original vocalist Tarja Turunen in 2005. She was replaced by Anette Olzon, who during her 5 year stint with the band was never fully accepted by the fans for reasons unknown.

Olzon was then replaced by former After Forever and ReVamp vocalist Floor Jansen, who has been welcomed with open arms by the loyal fans. The band released their newest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful in 2015 and launched a full scale world tour to support it.

The band will be trekking across North America in February and March with Sonata Arctica and Delain serving as support and if the tour comes anywhere near you, you owe it to yourself to catch one of the best and most grandiose bands of our generation live for the show of a lifetime.

Even a night that brought driving rain and blowing snow couldn’t deter the faithful fans in Pittsburgh from turning out in droves when the tour made a stop at Carnegie Music Hall.

Delain was first and from the moment they took the stage, everyone’s cares and concerns about the icy weather outside melted away as sultry songstress Charolette Wessels’ angelic voice took them to a utopian place far beyond the world outside and their worries of the day.

Wessels held the crowd in the palm of her hand and cuts like “Suckerpunch” and “Turn Out the Lights” from their new EP Lunar Prelude were extremely well received, but it was when Nightwish bassist Marco Hietala came out to sing along with Wessels on the song “Sing To Me” that things went to the next level, creating a moment that will live in their minds forever.

That would have been tough for any band to follow, but the members of Sonata Arctica aren’t easily rattled and have share the stage with some of metal’s biggest names and played the biggest festivals, so they know how to bring it and that’s just what they did.

The band like always was rock solid that night, but there was no denying that the bulk of the attention was on charismatic lead sing Tony Kakko. Kakko is a natural born frontman who commands the stage.

At one point in the show after speaking to the crowd for what he must have felt was just a bit too long cut himself off, then he proceeded to lead the crowd in a chant of “Shut the fuck up Tony!”

After several rounds of the chant he chuckled, said “How rude” and walked off stage for a moment before returning for “Don’t Say a Word,” giving the fans the memory that would last a lifetime from their impressive set.

And now ladies and gentleman, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

As the house lights dimmed and the intro music began to play, the anticipation in the room was so heavy and thick, you could cut it with a knife. Then finally with a brilliant flash of light and color, sweet relief. The show was underway!

From the opening moments of “Shudder Before the Beautiful” Floor Jansen stepped forward to take control and never let go of the reigns. Her presence not only fills the stage, but the very room itself and in an instant all previous vocalists became just a distant memory, overshadowed by the here and now.

Not surprisingly, the rest of the band was in top form as well. As far as drummers go, they don’t get any better or come any stronger than longtime drummer Jukka Nevalainen and not only is Marco Hietala a bassist of the highest caliber, he is also a strong male vocalist who’s talents are becoming more and more sought after.

Somehow, even though he is the shortest member of the band guitarist Emppu Vuorinen’s presence towers above the rest and his skills are second to none and there he is, the man behind it all Tuomas Holopainen, right up front where he should be.

From day one Holopainen has been brains and driving force behind the band and his technical abilities as a keyboardist know no rival. Like the Highlander, there can be only one and it is Holopainen.

The set-list was a nice mix of new and old, with songs such as “Bless the Child,” “While Your Lips Are Still Red,” “I Want My Tears Back” and “Nemo” garnering some of the biggest responses of the evening, but like always the epic “Ghost Love Score” will be the one that lives on forevermore in the hearts and minds of the loyal Nightwish fans.

On a final note, as the show let out the weather broke long enough for folks to get to their cars and back home safely, another testament to the power of music.

-Eric Hunker

For exclusive photos of all three bands, check out our Photos Page