The air was warm and the sun was shining Wednesday night at the Uptown Theater. Thousands of fans clad in black concert tees lines the block before the doors opened at 6. We were here and brutally excited to see the night’s performances of Delain, Sonata Arctica, and Nightwish.
As the doors opened, the venue began to fill with masses of people. I personally had not heard much of the band’s music prior to finding out about this show, so I decided to ask some of the fans what brought them here and how long they had been into these groups. After talking with 5 or 6 different people, I came to the conclusion that most here had been fans for over a decade. These people grew up with this music, and some had even passed their love of this music onto their kids. From what I have gathered, I was in for one hell of a night.
Delain started the night off with a bang. The bands current lineup is Charlotte Wessels on vocals, Martijn Westerholt on keyboards, Timo Somers and newcomer Merel Bechtold on guitar. Bassist Otto Schimmelpenninck was noticeably absent this show, but the band trudged on without him; filling things out was Ruben Israel on drums.
They started their set with Suckerpunch; their first single off of their new EP Lunar Prelude. What an appropriately titled song to start the set off with; a suckerpunch to start the show.
The band continued the show with electric energy. Charlotte, decked out in a funky white coat, had amazing stage chemistry with all the band. This is a lead singer who has the range of any contemporary pop singer – and probably has an even greater range. No need for auto-tune with her. Army of Dolls was played towards the middle of the set. The band had the whole crowd pumping their fists in the air and headbanging with the band.
Delain ended the show with an encore performance, playing Not Enough. Another appropriately titled song, even after the encore, I could not get enough of this band. And what a way to close out a show – this song has it all – heavy riffs, symphonic keys, a blasting drumbeat, and of course, the lovely vocal stylings of Charlotte Wessels. I’m truly surprised that this band isn’t bigger in the United States – the musical talent of this group is off the charts!
Next up was Sonata Arctica. A bit of a departure from the symphonic style of Delain, Sonata Arctica describes themselves as a Power Metal band. Hailing from Kemi, Finland, Sonata Actica is made up of Tony Kakko on lead vocals, Tommy Portimo on Drums, Henrik Klingenberg on keytar (this was one of the coolest things I’ve seen at a metal show), Elias Vijanen on guitar, and Pasi Kauppinen on bass.
Their show opened up with the members lines up in a row, a guitarmy if you will, getting ready to shred out faces off with their own brand of powerful and symphonic metal. Tommy on the drums acted as the guitarmys heavy artillery, providing powerful blasts of heavy metal beats.
Opening with The Wolves Die Young from their 2014 release Pariah’s Child, Sonata Arctica set the tone for what would be a very brutal set. Full Moon, from the album Eliptica, had the crowd engaged and chanting. Last Drop Falls, from the album Silence, was a bit more melodic than the rest of the set. Again, S.A had the crowd fully engaged, this time, with hands swaying back and forth from the crowd.
There are a few things that set Sonata Arctica apart from other bands. Every group in this member had a focus, rather than the limelight being on one or two members. Additionally, this band is very, very in tune with each other. Their music is definitely on a different level.
After an amazing set, the band came out and bowed (like they do at the end of a play) to the theme song from Saving Private Ryan. I know how overused this word has become, but that was truly EPIC!
Now onto our headliners, Nightwish! As I said before, this is a band with a rabid following; many of them have been fans for 10-15 years. Nightwish’s current line up consists of Tyomas Holopainen on keyboards, Empuu Vuorinen and Troy Donockley on guitar, Marco Hietala on bass, Jukka Nevalainen on drums, and Floor Jansen on vocals.
Floor was the center of conversation from many of the fans. Because many of these fans had been into Nightwish for so long, they were excited to see what the new lead singer brought to the band. She has been active in Nightwish since 2013. She was previously in ReVamp and After Forever. Many fans described the current line up as a super group, and were pumped to see her perform.
The set exploded with the song Shudder Before the Beautiful from their latest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. From the second they opened up, you could tell the fans were not disappointed with the new lead singer. You could say they were floored by Floor. Fans described her vocal range as being the best out of the 3 lead singers Nightwish has had since they formed in 1996.
A technical issue in the middle of the set caused a brief pause in the show, but Floor kept everything light and fun by making a few jokes on stage, such as how the shape of Missouri is pretty funny.
About half of Nightwish’s set was made up of new material from their latest album, but they still played hits from albums past, such as Wishmaster and Stargazers from Oceanborn. Again, Floor absolutely conquered these songs with her impressive range and vocal abilities.
Closing the set with the aptly named Greatest Show on Earth, it was apparent that this may have been one of the best shows I have been to in a while. Even though I had only really sat down and listened to these bands a week ago, I now consider myself a big fan of all three of these bands. On one hand, it’s a shame that these bands aren’t bigger than they are here in the states. On the other hand, it’s nice to have them as our little secret here in the Midwest.
If any of these bands are going to be near you soon, rush to get a ticket. This wasn’t just a normal rock concert, this was a spectacle of sight and sound. Not only are the bands extremely musically talented, the chemistry between the band members really adds another dimension of fun to the show.
Peace, Love, and Rock and Roll
Photos by Josh Chaikin
Words by Dallas Hessel