The concert seemed to be sold out or at least close to it, even though the local advertising seemed scarce. The first poster for the gig I saw two days after the show in a ticket service stand... I guess it's not necessary for an event like this to be advertised with posters all over the city, since well targeted ads in metal media will be enough - the fans will know about the event, and there's plenty of those in Germany.
The venue was a hall called Zenith, a former industrial hall built some 90 years ago. It was somehow a charming place with some interesting details, like the long catwalk from the backstage to the stage, three metres above the floor and an American-styled fastfood car inside the hall. A cool venue indeed. The sound was very good too.
INDICA is a Finnish all-girl band who are doing quite well here in Finland, but haven't released an english-language album yet. Their previous album "Valoissa" was produced by Tuomas Holopainen, and they've already supported Nightwish on their Scandinavian tour in December 2007. This year they got the chance to make themselves known in several European countries, and if the reaction they got in Munich is anything to go by, they succeeded.
The role of a support act isn't always easy: you're playing to people who aren't there to see you and generally don't seem to give a damn about anyone else except for the headliners. Your space on stage is most probably limited, the full arsenal of lighting is saved for the headliners and you only get to play a few songs. Many of these things were true in Munich too, but I have to say that I was amazed at the audience, who were actually paying attention to Indica! I wouldn't have been surprised if they had had a dozen fans in front of the stage, but no, I'd say that most of the crowd was checking them out.
My knowlegde of Indica's songs is limited to the songs I've heard on the radio or television, so I can't say I'm really familiar with their material. The five or six songs they played were ok pop/rock with a touch of Nightwish's pomp here and there, enthusiastically performed but not that memorable. The Kate Bush cover was a clever addition, at least they had one song in the set that most of the crowd probably knew. While it was maybe a little bit too big a song for vocalist/violin player Jonsu, their version wasn't too bad.
Speaking of Jonsu, she is an eccentric character and the center of attention on stage. Her strong accent only added to her personality, reminding me a bit of Björk. The other members of the band were slightly on the background, keyboard player Sirkku and drummer Laura hidden behind their instruments and the duo of blondes, guitarist Jenny and bassist Heini occupying the left side of the stage, playing side by side almost like an "unit".
Swedish industrial metal band PAIN were the next attraction, and they obviously had a lot of their own fans in the audience. If Indica's performance had been a little lightweight and fairy-like, Pain were the opposite - hardhitting, heavy and full of testosterone! The guys were relentlessly banging their heads and swinging their manes, yet still delivering those riffs with precision. And precise they had to be, as each one of the songs was enhanced with parts from a backing tape (or is it a hard drive these days?).
The thunderous assault of Pain might have become a bit overbearing quite easily, but the more accessible hits provided welcomed relief. "Same Old Song" and "Shut Your Mouth" were the two songs that got the best reception, and understandably so - they both have hooks which are hard to resist. The latest hit "Follow Me" on which Anette Olzon shares lead vocals wasn't played, even though there was a potential chance for her to make a cameo appearance...
Alongside the Pain mastermind Peter Tägtgren (voc, gt), the current tour line-up consists of David Wallin on drums, guitarist Michael Bohlin and bassist Johan Husgafvel. And the wonders of modern technology on keyboards and additional percussion!
Although both support acts got their fair share of attention, NIGHTWISH were the heroes of the night. They have a wide appeal these days: there were teenagers in full goth costumes, Hell's Angels-type of characters, young children with their parents, traditional metal fans with denim jackets full of batches and more "average joe"-looking types in the audience. I'd say the age range was from 5 to 60, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Compared to most Finnish gigs, the "LOOK AT ME I'M SO DRUNK"-idiots were nowhere to be seen, even though large amounts of beer and other drinks were consumed. I guess that's the "European way of drinking"?? One reason to attend gigs abroad!
The show started with the eerie intro, a special version of the Finnish national anthem, during which the band members sneaked to the stage one by one. With "7 Days To The Wolves" the show got its' real start. The stage set was quite spectacular and the light show and pyrotechnics were highly impressive, with huge bursts of fire warming up the frontrows. The life of a rock musician is dangerous these days - two steps to the wrong direction and you might end up being cooked!
One of my all-time favourite NW songs "Dead To The World" was second on the setlist, and while Anette's voice had sounded a bit weak during the opener, she took charge during this song. Of course it's Marco who sings more of "DTTW", and he proved once again that he's one of the best vocalists ever to come out of this country of ours. He's always in total control of every note and the power in his voice is just immense.
Next highlight of the show was the hit single of the band's latest album "Dark Passion Play", the super-catchy "Amaranth". The first notes from the keyboard of maestro Tuomas Holopainen raised a huge cheer from the crowd, and the choruses became a big singalong. "Dark Passion Play's" epic opening track "The Poet and the Pendulum" is a long one, and it was cleverly enhanced with some pyro effects and an explosion of paper snow from the ceiling, leading to the band's arguably biggest hit so far, "Nemo". Again Tuomas tinkled those familiar notes from his synth, and I think the Zenith shook a little...
This was my first time seeing the band fronted by Anette, and she did a good job. She seems quite comfortable with the Tarja-era songs in the setlist, and her stage presence is more down-to-earth than that of the somewhat distant predecessor of hers. The other band members are characters of their own too - Captain Holopainen leading the ship over stormy waters, guitarist Emppu being a whirlwind on stage and constantly impressing with his effortless playing... Jukka's drumming is quite "showy" as well, and in Marco the band has a seasoned veteran of rock wars to be the second frontperson. Damn, the band sounds like superheroes, The X-Men or something! Now let's just wait for the cartoon...
Report by Kimmo Toivonen, kimmo [at] rockunited.com