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Review: Nightwish - Dark Passion Play Tour
Nightwish
www.nightwish.com
Dark Passion Play Tour
Venue: Diamond Ballroom
City: Oklahoma City, USA

Show date: May 09, 2009
Guests: Volbeat

Review online: May 16, 2009
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
for:
Dark Passion Play Tour

Rated 4.22/5 (84.44%) (9 Votes)
Review


There was no way I was going to miss seeing Nightwish on tour, as they have never come as close to my hometown as this. Usually they hit Dallas or Kansas City, which are both a four-hour drive. But OKC is only an hour and 40 minutes on the turnpike, so off we went. Hideous road congestion led to us almost being late for the pre-show autograph session, but Barb drove like a maniac and we made it in time. So now I have some nicely autographed Nightwish CDs, including my boxed set (which caused Tuomas to pause. "Whoa," he said. "This is vintage.") I confess I was much more excited to meet Marco Hietala, and he was very cool, signing our Tarot CDs and giving us hope for a new album next year. All the band members are quite small in person, and I thought it was odd that Anette was not present.

The Diamond Ballroom is a pretty big venue, normally a host for weekend country dancing and such. It holds maybe 1500 people, but it wasn't even half full. I had heard terrible things about it, but it was not bad. The staff was cool and friendly, and the wooden floor was a big break for my feet. Plus, there are plenty of places to sit down. It is a smoking venue, and the ventilation is poor, so by the end of the show the air was pretty bad, even with the doors propped open and a big fan to cycle the air.

Openers Volbeat were incredibly boring. They are a Danish band who play hillbilly-tinged groove rock (I refuse to dignify them with the term ‘metal') with a singer who sounds just like Glenn Danzig. All their songs feature the same stupid groove riffs and have nothing at all memorable about them. I cannot for the life of me imagine why these guys are on tour with Nightwish. They don't appeal to a metal crowd, and they didn't appeal to the Nightwish crowd. Rating 1/5

A word on the crowd. I don't know quite what I was expecting, but this was the nerdiest crowd I have seen at a show. Lots of your normal misfit types, but also lots of Goth teens, anime dorks, manga cosplay goons, and a general run of vanilla geeks in glasses, some even in buttoned-up shirts. A lot of Nightwish shirts, also Savatage, Rhapsody and even a Blind Guardian shirt. With my Wolves In The Throne Room tour shirt, I think I was the most hard-core person there (aside from the dude in the classic Motorhead T).

And then Nightwish kicked off and the crowd went ballistic. Not a huge draw for a band of this caliber, but the crowd was totally nuts. Without Tarja, the band has evolved more into an ensemble act onstage, with charisma emanating effortlessly from Marco. With his flying hair and powerful voice, he easily dominates the proceedings. One thing I noticed is that pre-Once material has been almost entirely excised from the setlist. They opened up with "Seven Days to the Wolves", and then played a lot of cuts off Dark Passion Play including "Amaranth", "Sahara", and the showstopper "The Islander", which sounded great. They did make us sit through all of "The Poet And The Pendulum", which is just as terrible live as it is on the album.

They did pull off some pre-Anette songs, they graced us with "Nemo", "The Siren", and "Dark Chest Of Wonders". The encore was a spot-on performance of "Ghost Love Score" followed by "Wish I Had An Angel", which surprised me, as I wasn't expecting to hear that one. They even whipped out "End Of All Hope", but it was the only song off Century Child they played all night.

Which brings me to Anette, who I am forced to admit is just not up to the drill either vocally or as a performer. She's an affable presence onstage, but she has no charisma at all. She tries, but when she really gets into it and tries to ‘rock out' she just looks silly. Her voice is inconsistent, sounding good here, and wandering off-key there. Live her vocals are weak, which I would ascribe to the PA system if it weren't for the fact that Marco sounded huge and was right on note every damned time. I have been one of Anette's defenders, and I was all for giving her time to grow into the role, but she's not doing that. She can't perform consistently, her voice is weak, she has no stage presence, and her range cannot handle most of the band's back catalog. I winced hearing her labor over the high notes in "Nemo", which aren't even that high. The fact is that without a dramatic, operatic singer Nightwish are reduced to just another band, and will not ever again wield the force they once did. Maybe it was more important for them to get someone they could get on with, but it has weakened them sadly. Seriously, when your ostensible frontwoman is being upstaged by the drummer, it's time for a change.

I was expecting to be overwhelmed by this band live, but really, they were merely good. They played a good show and were very tight and pro, but there was never a sense of them being carried away by the music or really throwing themselves into it. You could say it was because of the smaller venue and the smaller crowd, but I have seen Kamelot play their asses off for maybe 200 people, so that's not an excuse. It was an entertaining show, but unless they get an operatic singer who can really wow me, I don't think I'll be breaking my legs to see them again. Oh, and an opening act that doesn't suck ass would help. That would help a lot. Rating 3.5/5


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