For many metalheads alike, “An Evening with Nightwish in a Virtual World” was one of the highlights to look forward to marked on your virtual gig calendars. NIGHTWISH was scheduled to play two shows, one for the European crowd and another for those in the Americas. Besides the fact that the show, played in virtual reality was an unicum, the band announced their new session player, Jukka Koskinen (WINTERSUN), during the first evening as their tour replacement for Marko Hietala, who left the band earlier this year. Yesterday, over 150,000 people tuned in to watch the first show, can you imagine that? That’s more than a festival crowd. Time in to tune into the second stream on May 29th, 2021. Check out our report of the first streaming concert.
While the stream was a bit too late for me to watch live, I started watching right when I woke up. What has been fun to see, is that the chat didn’t only stay open for during the shows, but for the entire time you can watch the shows. This meant that you can still interact with fans who had seen the show already quite a few times and that is something that I have missed during other live events, where you can only chat when the stream is ongoing.
During the first stream, I had missed the intro due to technical issues, so it was fun to see how the crew had created this beautiful fantasy world. We were taken on a trip with a zeppelin, which was pulling into its dock. In my fantasy, the band was enjoying their time on the zeppelin. We then arrived at something I can compare best with an observatory, to watch stars by a cliff at the edge of the sea – something that vaguely reminds me of Roger Dean‘s paintings (mostly known as the cover artist for the progressive rock act YES). We then are invited into the venue, not a tavern, but inside of the dome of the observatory, large windows, round, with a tree in the middle, something that has a little bit of the same feel that the “Noise” video had.
The intro of “Music” started playing and somehow I had hoped that instead of playing “Noise,” NIGHTWISH would opt now for the beautiful “Music,” my personal highlight of the record; however, the band played “Noise” again. I’m wondering if “Music” is one of those songs that is impossible to play live? That would somehow sadden me, because it’s such a wonderful opener to the record. The first bits of the show were quite similar to the previous show, the band continued with “Planet Hell,” where Floor took over Marko Hietala‘ parts with ease. The start of the show may have been the same, but it felt like the band was more comfortable playing the (for them) green screen environment and it definitely felt like they were a bit tighter.
The first real difference came when the seven-piece starts playing “Alpenglow,” off “Endless Forms Most Beautiful,” which they haven’t played since 2016. This always has been a fun live track for me because Floor does a great job in singing the very playful lyrics and it’s easily one of her most fun vocal performances. The background for “Alpenglow” didn’t change from the last stream, which is a bit strange considering the lyric video visuals for “Tribal” started playing in the background and the grim atmosphere of that song contrasted a lot with the heartwarming, uplifting spirit of “Alpenglow.”
The fact that the band had presented a varied setlist on both occasions also made it even more impressive for Jukka Koskinen to join the band under such circumstances. He had to learn more than 20 songs for the occasion, but did so masterfully. After playing “Élan” and “Storytime” again, it was time for the live debut of the studio version of “How’s the Heart.” It was interesting to see that the band opted the day prior to play the acoustic version and a nice little treat for fans to play its real version during the second show. Both versions are equally strong, so it’s just up to the viewer really which one they prefer.
“Harvest” followed again, with Troy on lead vocals, after which the band started playing the iconic opener of “Once,” “Dark Chest of Wonders.” It was surprising to me the band didn’t play that during the first stream, so I’m glad they chose to add this one to the setlist of the second night, because what an insane track it is. During real shows, it’s always a moment that comes with a huge burst of energy, where people start crowd-surfing or just headbanging intensely; hopefully, people were able to party hard on this track in their living rooms too. They followed this up with “I Want My Tears Back” again, where Troy took over Hietala‘s parts.
Spring comes back to the fantasy world and a perfect song to underline that mood is the iconic “Ever Dream,” after which the band started playing their hit single “Nemo” once again. The symphonic metal act then balanced the setlist out with one of their older songs, “Sleeping Sun,” which after all the energy, came as a welcome break. This was followed by the live debut of the energetic “Pan,” another fun track from their latest album, “Human. :||: Nature.“ after that the same closing trio as the first event, “Last Ride of the Day,” “Ghost Love Score,” and “The Greatest Show On Earth” ended the second and last chapter of this virtual evening with NIGHTWISH.
Now… was it worth the money to buy access to both stream shows? Yes, yes, it was. The band focused on a lot of new songs, of which the first evening had two extra, “Shoemaker” and “Tribal,” while the second evening opted for “Pan.” Yet, some songs off “Human. :||: Nature.” were not played live, such as “Music,” “Procession,” and “Endlessness.” The latter is a song that we might never experience live because it has Marko Hietala on lead vocals. The rest of the setlist was filled up with fan-favorites, some of which differed from show to show, which is a nice way of giving a little bit extra to people who tuned into both shows, but not excluding those who could only afford to watch one.
One thing I did notice during the shows was the lack of zoomed shots on guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and session bass player Jukka Koskinen, as the selected videos were mostly focused on Floor, Troy, Tuomas, and Kai. Apart from that the things we mentioned during our first report, perhaps are still important enough to mention again. The green screen effect only works with very sleek hair, so Tuomas Holopainen‘s wavy hair often gave away the fact that the venue wasn’t real. Other than that, you were able to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the setting, which was pretty cool. The silence between songs, obviously due to the lack of applause, was a little bit awkward at times, but once again, blame this on COVID-19 and not the band! Other than that, it has been a blast to be a part of this event, being able to forget a little bit about daily life and watch these two excellent shows. While I’d rather opt to watch NIGHTWISH in real life, this was the next best thing and perhaps a bit of an eye-opener to the possibilities of what one can do with these streaming concerts. Should this be part of the new normal, hopefully bands can get some inspiration from this top-notch production. After all, if a streaming concert can gather 150,000 people, isn’t it worth it to keep the ball rolling even after the pandemic is over?
Written by Laureline Tilkin
Photos taken from the streaming concert
- Planet Hell
- How’s the Heart
- Dark Chest of Wonders
- I Want My Tears Back
- Ever Dream
- Sleeping Sun
- Last Ride of the Day
- Ghost Love Score
- The Greatest Show on Earth