Lunatic's Serenade

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Nightwish, Sabaton, and Delain
at the House of Blues 4-30-15

Have you ever been so amazed and awestruck after a concert that to put all the feelings into words you come up speechless? For me, after all was said and done I could only come up with one word, “Dude!” From the two amazing opening bands; Delain and Sabaton, to the bewildering sounds of Nightwish, my senses were on overload with all that went down.

Last year, Stevie Kopas, another “Horror Metal Sounds” journalist, reviewed the Delain record: The Human Contradiction. What she wrote didn’t prepare me for what I was in store for. I was truly blown away, and what was on disc translated insanely well live. Delain came out immediately took control of the crowd with every beat, note, and vocal attack. From the start, the music was dim, moody, and rhythmic. Charlotte Wessels voice glided through the air like a bird in flight as the band flew in tight formation right behind her. Between songs fans would yell out songs they wanted to hear. I felt bad not knowing any titles from her records, but hearing most of the songs for the first time was a real treat. Delain’s music is like a warm blanket in winter during the slower songs, and like being caught in a symphonic tornado during the heavier tunes. One in particular that got everyone jumping was “Stardust” from the new record; a tune that starts off a bit mellow but picks up weight by the time it gets to the first chorus.

A special surprise was when Nightwish bassist, Marco Hietala, joined them on stage for another fan favorite, “The Gathering.” Marco and Charlotte harmonized beautifully throughout the song and the interaction on the stage was that of friends doing what they love; entertaining fans. Aside from Charlotte’s magical vocals, they had Martijin Westerholt leaning on the keys, Otto van der Oije pumping the bass, Rubin Isreal on drums, and Timo Somers riffing and pulling off some wonderful leads. I must say that Delain was a joyous experience. They were the perfect band to warm the crowd for the next group.

There’s a little band from Sweden with a great big sound, and let me tell ya, “heavy” doesn’t nearly describe the Metal that Sabaton brings forth. Out the gate they unleashed their instruments with brute force. Sabaton took the stage ready for battle in camouflage pants, and singer, Joakim Broden came out like a mad dog barking out the lyrics to “Ghost Division.” The insanity of the crowd was only a shadow of things to come because “Screaming Eagles” and “Swedish Pagans” destroyed half the attendees. Fans were relentless in chanting, “Sabaton!” in between each song, and to show their thanks the band chose to punish us with even more aggressive songs. One in particular was, “Primo Victoria.”

The most heartwarming thing about this tune, and broke me, was when Joakim introduced the song and told how it was written for the soldiers that stormed the beach at Normandy against Nazi Germany on June 6, 1944. This is an anthem that I personally have not heard until tonight. He thanked our grandfathers for the action they took and for the lives that were lost. He said for all of us to not forget the cost that was paid for our freedoms. This song had every foot off the floor and every fist pumping the air! Remembering what he said brings tears, and I hope that when you hear this song you too will be filled with gratitude for those who have served and to Sabaton for writing this song in their honor.

Not about to slow things down, “Metal Crue” threw everyone into a frenzy. There was no circle pit action, but heads banged to the vicious rhythms that Sabaton most graciously bestowed upon us. Along with Joakim slaughtering us with his brutal commands was Hannes Van Dahl on drums, Par Sundstrom on bass and calisthenics, and two dynamite axe-men, Thobble Englund and Chris Rorland. I have been to a lot of heavy shows, and already I felt satisfied enough to go home. But I knew the final course of this Metal meal was about to be served and the first two were not enough to fill my gluttonous gut.

My heart raced with anticipation for the main band. Back in the mid 1990’s I had heard of this group called Nightwish that sounded like a heavy metal symphony. Their style of metal would blaze a trail for other bands with the same spirit of classical music influence. Over the years they would change singers a couple of times but the magic of their songs would always hold true to the operatic style vocals.

“Back in the mid 1990’s I had heard of this group called Nightwish that sounded like a heavy metal symphony.”

The elaborate stage set up consisted of human type trees holding up the microphone stands and the keyboards. A giant backdrop of the new record cover flowed from the top to the bottom of the stage. With everything coming into view my anticipation was getting the better of me. My heart beating out of my chest, the lights finally dim as the intro plays as the band makes its way onto the stage. They wave hello and the crowd raises the horns and fists to welcome what Nightwish has prepared.

The air filled with a hail storm of classical infused metal as the new vocalist, Floor Jansen, sashayed her way across the stage. When she began to sing the opening lines to “Dark Chest of Wonders” it was like an enchantress weaving a magic blanket covering the whole area. The smoothness of the vocals amidst such madness fueled the soul and put a burning in the heart. It led to more stories of fantasy and wonder. “Storytime” really showcased what Floor could do with her vocals. I was told she was not classically trained, but if you heard her for the first time you would think she had trained for years to reach the range her voice peaked at. And I haven’t seen it all.

I was caught in a whirlwind of symphonic sounds with the help of Tuomas Holopainen on the keys, Jukka Nevalainen slamming the drums, Emppu Vuorinen shredding all six strings, and Marco Hietala on bass and furious backing vocals. Adding Celtic flavor to the metal mix is Troy Donockley on Low Whistles, Bouzouki, and my personal favorite, the Uilleann Pipes. Troy also took the spotlight a few times during the concert to show off his Irish instrumental skills. All this excitement and electricity would be silent if it wasn’t for the lullaby voice that Floor Jenson sometimes turned into an angry, betrayed woman.

Nightwish used every inch of the stage working the crowd and encouraging fans to jump and yell. We did our best and this 46 year old fool did some jumping that I regretted the next day. Every few songs the backdrop changed to the album cover of the set they were doing. At this time they were embarking on the songs from Oceanborn. The tune that stuck out for me during this set was “Stargazers.” Floor moved her arms slowly like a symphony conductor. The electric fan at her feet blew her hair making it wave around, and the band sped through the orchestral maneuvers in the dark setting. Never before have I been so amazed and awestruck watching a show until tonight. I talk a lot about energy, atmosphere, and presence. I am here to say that Nightwish holds this triple threat in its death-grip and they show no sign that they ever intend on slowing.

Don’t pass up any of these bands, please check out their web sites and sounds. You won’t be disappointed.

Tim Duran, HMS

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