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Nightwish @ The Electric Factory.

April 14, 2015

IMG_6258Text and images by Lee Miller.

Philadelphia was the second stop on Nightwish‘s latest world tour in support of their latest album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, which was released on March 31st.

This marks a new era for the band from Finland. Just shy of their 20th year, it is their first album with their latest vocalist, Floor Jansen. It’s also the first album to feature multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley as a full member and the first without drummer Jukka Nevalainen, who is temporarily away from the band for health reasons.

Opening for the tour are both Delain, who hail from the Netherlands, and Sabaton from Sweden.

Delain took the stage first and while they are they newest band on the tour, they’ve still be active for 13 years. Delain has a long history with Nightwish. Nightwish’s bassist, Marco Hietala, has appeared on their albums dating back to 2006.

Their seven-song set featured simpler symphonic metal than the headliners – and more peppy and upbeat. It might not be a stretch to call it pop-ish.

The packed in crowd showed their support but really erupted for Sabaton. The audience chanted the heavy metal unit’s name. The band featured lyrics about battle and warfare and, suitable to their northern homeland, were decked out in matching snow-camo pants and guitars.

Lead vocalist Joakim Brodén brought an impressive amount of charisma to the stage, cracking jokes and working up the crowd by telling them they were louder than NYC (to which the crowd responded with a “F*** New York” chant.)

Doing heavy metal with a smile, Brodén expounded on how he believed metal was for everyone and pointed out the diverse crowd jammed into Electric Factory for the evening. To drive his point home, he singled out a 12-year old girl from the audience and had her brought to the stage to rock out with the band during their final song.

Their 10-song set was a hard one to follow but Nightwish is a band that brings showmanship in spades. They packed a stage set that could put anyone’s to shame with instrument stands crafted to look as though they were carved out of Ents (the tree creatures from Lord of the Rings).

Or you might say that they looked like Groot from Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” In fact, a fan in the front row brought a large Rocket Raccoon stuffed animal to wave around.

Combined with the battery of lights, when Nightwish finally took the stage with “Shudder Before the Beautiful” (also the first song on the new album) it was quite a visual spectacle for a venue of Electric Factory’s size.

There are many bands that delve into symphonic elements in their music but Nightwish has a really deep repertoire of backing tracks that go beyond simply adding in some strings sections and some chanting.

The occasional addition of brass really adds a layer that takes them into a different level of complexity. It is almost a cinematic sound.

After opening with two new songs, they dipped back to 2007’s hit “Amaranth,” which is a more conventional soaring symphonic metal track. From there they went even further back to “She is my Sin” from 2000’s Wishmaster album.

After jumping back to the present with the Endless Forms Most Beautiful title track, an uptempo genre bending experience, Troy Donockley finally took to the stage with his Uilleann pipes for “My Walden.”

Fittingly, this led to “The Islander,” which is a Celtic rock inspired acoustic number sung by bassist Hietala that really lets Donockley’s work stand out.

They rolled on for seven more songs after that before reaching “The Greatest Show on Earth,” their 24-minute multi-part epic from the recent album. Much like how 90s metalers X Japan generally only play half of their 29 minute epic, Nightwish played only the middle sections of the song.

After that epic performance, which was their 15th song of the night (but really more like their 15th, 16th and 17th), they took a moment to run off stage for a break and wait to be called for their encore.

They didn’t linger off stage for too long but when they returned to the stage it was roughly four hours from the beginning of the show and most of the fans still had plenty of energy to give.

Nightwish closed out the night with “Ghost Love Score” and the appropriately titled “Last Ride of the Day” before thanking the packed house and sending them on their way.

It wasn’t necessarily the end of the night though. If four hours of metal wasn’t enough, next door at Voltage was still rocking their grindcore show.

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