RockUnited.Com Editor: Some time has passed now since the news broke out that Nightwish and Tarja Turunen would go their separate ways. Now it's our time to take a look at that Night...we hope that this story captures the athmosphere somehow.
LAST EVENING WITH TARJA; NIGHTWISH SAYS FAREWELL TO THEIR LEAD SINGER IN HARTWALL AREENA, HELSINKI, October 21st,2005
THURSDAY, October 20
Nightwish gathered some 11 000 fans to Finland's Hartwall Areena for the last show of "Once Upon A Tour 2004-2005"- world tour. Over million people witnessed the band on this tour and this last show was filmed by Antti Jokinen for future DVD release. Sonata Arctica was the support band for the evening, who are longtime friends of Nightwish.
RockUnited went to the arena already on Thursday evening to check out how the whole production was put together, meet the band and their guest, John Two-Hawks, who is heard on the "Once"-cd. His interview can be found on the interviews-page.
The whole production was the biggest ever seen from a Finnish band, there were loads of pyrotechniques throughout the stage, the drums had their own pack of surprise and the lights above the stage came in different sizes and colours. While gazing all the structures and the huge team running around the concert venue, there was no doubt this was going to be something unique and big. The band also got promotion through a Finnish bank Sampo. The whole group is featured in a credit card, which was advertised in the arena on each seat.
FRIDAY, October 21st, HOURS BEFORE THE SHOW
Nightwish went through their set just a few hours before the actual show and when we got to the arena at the early hours in the morning, there was already full action going on. With the huge pyros in the show, the local fire brigade made an inspection at the place. John Two-Hawks with the band also went through his part in the show. Everything seemed just perfect for the evening, except the fact that half of the band was either in a flu or something else. Nonetheless, they still seemed quite vivid, while running between the backstage area and the stage and talking with the media. Tuomas Holopainen behind his keys featuring the Jack Sparrow doll, spent some time in between talking to John, but otherwise seemed a bit silent. Maybe it was the decision he had made long ago about the bands future, that made him feel uneased.
DON'T SAY A WORD! BUT WE DID!
Came Friday evening, and Sonata Arctica hit the stage, probably gaining a few new fans, since Nightwish has a whole different fanbase than most metal bands. Sonata gave an energetic show, which for old fans didn't give anything new, except a joke about Iron Maiden in "Black Sheep". The set included the usual reggae part and also the finishing touch with the "We need some vodka"- singalong. Their keysman Henrik Klingenberg was celebrating his birthday, so the crowd sang for him. Another thing that sticked out from the average Sonata show, was frontman Tony Kakko's live presence. He was a strange, energetic rascal running around, playing tricks, with some hilarious speaches and lyrics. For that part this was definately one of the best shows Sonata has done, they were really entertaining and there was no complaining about their song selection either. It was a bit worrying to think how the band will pull through in front of Nightwish's audience with older crowd, but at least the people in front of the stage were partying, dancing and singing along. A pleasant start for the evening for sure.
The set: Intro, Misplaced Childhood, Fullmoon, Blinded No More, Last Drop Falls, Black Sheep, Replica, Don't Say A Word, Victoria's Secret, Broken, The Cage
THIS NIGHT WILL HURT YOU LIKE NEVER BEFORE...
Beginning with an intro, the members of Nightwish walked slowly on stage. As the "Dark Chest Of Wonders" hits it's first hard notes, the pyros appear in front of the stage and the lights are flashing crazy. The band performs as usual, being that magnificently theatrical group they're known of. Tarja Turunen changes her gown many times throughout the evening, wearing a yellow one for this song, and Tuomas performs in his Aussie outback- hat. The song ended to a very warm fire pillar and the band got huge reaction from the crowd. The video crew had taken their places in front of the stage, in the middle of the venue and all around, but didn't block too much view from the fans. "Planet Hell" continued with where DCOW ended, with a noisy blast, that made Tarja mosh real hard. Jukka Nevalainen had trouble keeping his drumsticks at hands, so some ended up on stage and in the crowd. By now Tuomas had warmed up some and lost his hat. The background screens featured spiral lights and the song ended with ghostly pithy. Guitarist Emppu Vuorinen was running around the stage with his style in "Ever Dream", then kneeing down to the crowd. The whole band was giving a world class performance with a cheerful attitude, that one enjoys to watch. The band toyed around with slow and fast songs, and next came "The Kinslayer", which again blew up the venue. The lights were moving around wickedly and by now Tuomas was lying on his keys. Emppu changed his guitar somewhere during the show, playing at least with a red and white guitar. Again the song ended to a colourful and huge pyro pillar. "Phantom Of The Opera" began smoothly, where the blasting pyros and fire pillars took over, scaring the crowd. Marco Hietala's vocals never ceased to bring goosebumps and the duo of Marco and Tarja once again left the audience silent with awe. The song played was a shorter version for the show.
A surging sea on the background screen introduced "The Siren". Tarja came on stage wearing a black gown looking gloomy, while Marco and Emppu were fooling around on stage. Beautiful blue lights came on, making a great starlike figure on stage. As the song began, it ended with gloominess, slowly fading away. Tarja disappeared some time ago, and after a while she walked on stage in her white dress and up the platform. "Sleeping Sun" silenced the arena, the screens ran winter pictures and snow falling down. Emppu was sitting in the platform, where he played his beautifully soaring solo. The screens showed clouds and northern lights. The atmosphere was very soothing. The Pink Floyd- cover "High Hopes" continued the mood and a round light structure was seen behind the drums. Very ethereal mood. From there Jukka kicked off, with screens going "dead to the world", and a forest in the background. "Bless The Child" showed Tarja in black and yellow dress, with black sleeves and ope n shoulders. The screens changed with pictures, with flower graphics that blossomed to red roses. The leaves started falling, placed with dark crosses. The pyros were blasting, angels were shown and the dreary crosses filled the screen below the clouds. The band was very tight throughout the show, although Tuomas was once seen cursing at his keys, when he made a mistake. The song ended with words "Forever", both on the screen and by vocal statement. During the whole show the crowd was kept under excitement. The show had a tremendous grip, one that left the audience quite speachless.
Colourful lights filled the arena, as "Wishmaster" kicked off with power. Marco was more excited and showed the audience what metal is about. He gave the crowd his usual humour filled speaches, so the show wasn't boring to watch at all. Tarja also gave her best, being the operatic metal queen she is, performing with class. By now Tuomas had lost one more piece of clothing and was seen in sleeveless shirt. The stage seemed really hot, since the pyros and many lights warmed up the arena elsewhere too. Before Emppu played his solo, the pyro pillars came off with more blasts afterwards. There were also pyros in front of the screen. The show is a one big blast for the crowd, as most of the songs were tight, in your face- style, heavy performances. As the arena filled with red lights, "Slaying The Dreamer" got the fans sweating even more. The screens showed fire, which filled the place. Smoke pillars were also seen and strobo lights took over in the end. Marco ended the song wi th Finnish mentality, cursing the song away with his typical "perkele".
By now it was time to slow down, and Tarja took the stage by herself with "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" and the background tapes and screen showing pictures of the band. Once again another fine moment in the concert. After the venue had calmed down, the band dropped out their big hit "Nemo", and the venue turned into a huge party, the crowd was making waves around the venue. Emppu and Marco were back in the platform and Tarja changed her dress into red. Jukka was toying around with his drumsticks again. The song surprisingly only had a lightshow. "Ghost Love Score" is the most brilliant song Tuomas has ever written and it was next. Tuomas and Jukka were the only ones on stage kicking off the song, then others joined in. The screen was showing old scripts from a book, running through the pages. The lose pages started flying around and candles were lit. Then Jukka was alone on stage. The red lights were on and the confetti started flying everywhere. The screen showed fire and the band members faces, the book was on fire and pyros came off. The song and presentation left everyone speachless, but the band got a noisy applause from their fans. Tarja didn't really speak much during the show and neither did Marco. Only a few short things were said.
When John Two-Hawks came on stage, the band forgot to introduce their American guest to the crowd. Surely everyone knew who he was, but as John came on stage, it came more like a surprise. He was wearing his Indian regalia, which he had made himself and looked really great. As John started playing one of his own songs, the sounds were twirling all over the place for a moment. He was walking around the stage, singing and making hand movements to the air. The song changed into "Creek Mary's Blood" and the rest of the band joined John peacefully on stage. Tarja had changed into her white dress and Marco and Emppu took their place once again on the platform. John did Indian dance around the stage and around Tarja, who disappeared as Emppu played his guitar solo. John still stayed on stage dancing and as he started reciting the epilogue in the end of the song in his own language, the band left the stage. What a touching show and just when people thought they were treated with the best the show can give with "Ghost Love Score", "Creek Mary's Blood" really crowned the show for most. This could've ended the show with style already, but there was still two more songs to come.
Gary Moore's "Over The Hills And Far Away", which has been in the bands setlist for long, was still to come. This performace was classy too. Tarja has a few microphones she changes during the set and now she used her white one. The background lights were blue, the pyros showed again and the song ended with loud bangs. The only surprise the band really gave this evening was the performance of Two-Hawks, otherwise their set was quite the same they've been playing for a while now. And so "Wish I Had An Angel" finished the show with pyroshowers, lights adventuring across the venue and the song ending the nastiest and the most intense way, the band just firing the last notes away with power. The band bowed in line to the crowd, who were cheering again loudly. A perfect ending for the tour, and sadly so, for Tarja's career with Nightwish.
Creek Mary's Blood
Backstage Sonata Arctica was having fun and meeting friends. Tony was just interviewed for the Finnish Idols-show, where Sonata's "Tallulah" was sung by Agnes Pihlava. Finnish metal is finally getting the coverage it deserves in bigger medias. While Sonata was boozing the night away, Nightwish packed themselves to their dressing room and it was filled with their friends. It didn't take long, when Tarja was seen walking in the corridor crying. Obviously the guys had handed her the final words in the famous letter. She left the building soon and the mood in the Nightwish room had turned sad. The close friends of the band knew they did the right thing, although Tuomas wasn't jumping for joy. As the mood wasn't the best and the house was too crowded, we called it a day, although the night didn't end in a long time for most people. The following Sunday the world was dropped the bomb. Being a huge Nightwish fan myself, it is sad to see great artists parting ways. But with their talents, Tuomas will keep writing amazing music and Tarja will surely conquer the world with her own merits. As for the rest of the guys, it hasn't been easy for them either. For now the band is on a break, so we'll wait for the DVD and the book, rest satisfied with them, stay tuned on the news and wish all the best for each of the musicians.
Report by Satu Reunanen, satu [at] rockunited.com