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Nightwish, Sonic Syndicate @ The Pearl Room, Mokena, IL (USA)

in Saturday, 31 May 2008 at The Pearl Room
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos

I have seen NIGHTWISH on-stage twice during the time when they had Tarjia behind the mic. So, I was something more than curious to see again how the Finnish band has changed after Tarjia's replacement with Anette. The reports from my fellow countrymen about the band's performance in the 'March Metal Day' festival in Athens, Greece were at least disappointing especially when the conversation was focused on Anette's vocals and on stage performance.

I had to get to the venue very early since I had scheduled an interview with Tuomas Holopainen that went extremely well as you will read in the following days. Despite my early arrival, I found in front of the venue's door a pretty long human line consisting of die-hard NIGHWISH fans. Eventually, the doors opened and to my surprise 1000 (maybe more) metalheads filled up the Pearl Room proving that the guys from Finland have a very solid fanbase here.

The opening act was SONIC SYNDICATE, a band that was strongly promoted by Nuclear Blast with the release of Only Inhuman. Personally, I was extremely disappointed with this one because their debut Eden Fire had raised some expectations. Indeed, the Swedes have taken the Metalcore trendy path with some catchy guitar riffs and the classic but definitely boring clean vs shouting vocal recipe. When they got on stage I figured out why Nuclear Blast has been promoting them so hard; SONIC SYNDICATE have the attitude and looks to support this Metalcore sound and do a hell of a job during their live performance. Although, the band did give a very good Metalcore show with a lot of jumping and screaming they failed to get through the audience. This was kind of odd for me because in past concerts the US audiences were in favour of this music genre.

The time for NIGHTWISH had come and you could feel in the humid air the fans' great anticipation. So, the lights went out and the after the short intro Bye Bye Beautiful opened the setlist. Although, this was the band last US gig (not for this year though) the guys were in top mood and full of energy. Anette came on stage after a while with a quite hot outfit and was warmly welcomed. During the first three songs it was really hard to make a fair judgment to Anette's vocals since I was in the photo pit where the screams from the ecstatic young in age fans were literally blocking my thoughts. After the photo session the kind security guys lead us to the press area that was conveniently located next to the stage. I am not mentioning this to brag about my privilege but to make it clear that I was in the perfect position to make a fair judgment on the vocals and generally the concert. Eventually, Anette had made progress with her singing and had gained significant amounts of self confidence while being on the road with her new band. You have to keep in mind that Dark Passion Play was already recorded before Anette addition to the lineup and this means that she had to adapt her vocals to the music and also stand all the pressure from the fans and the media that were comparing here to Tarjia.

Without Tarjia filling the stage with her powerful presence I managed to notice the rest of the guys that seemed to have a very good time. Emppu was relentless walking up and down while Marco had a dominating presence with his bass guitar despite his Non Metal looks wearing sandals with socks! Actually, this time I liked his vocals during the atmospheric The Islander and the melodic Sahara.  As it was announced John Two-Hawks joined the band during Creek Mary's Blood greatly enhancing the Indian atmosphere. He performed all the otherwise pre-recorded parts with some traditional musical instruments and ending the track with the Indian spoken part. Tuomas had in front of him some passionate girls who were screaming and shouting every time he laid his eyes on them. Actually one of them had a placard saying Tuomas throw me your towel� (he did give her one though)

Anette did also well during The Siren, the groovy Nemo and of course I Wish I had An Angel that concluded the band's setlist. At the end of the concert Anette was jumping up and down like a young girl and I pretty sure that she was deeply moved having withstood all the pressure during the band's tour. Yes, we have to give her another chance with the next album that will be written based on her voice as Tuomas said in the interview.
The bottom line is that NIGHTWISH look and sound way different without Tarjia but to my ears this is not bad news at all. Tarjia is doing extremely well with her solo career (her Greek show was excellent) while NIGHTWISH look more of a band now. So, I was more than satisfied with this concert and judging by the fans' reaction was a successful one!  

NIGHTWISH setlist:

01. Bye Bye Beautiful
02. Dark Chest Of Wonders
03. Whoever Brings The Night
04. The Siren
05. Amaranth
07. The Poet And The Pendulum
08. Dead To The World
09. While Your Lips Are Still Red
10. The Sahara
12. Creek Mary's Blood
13. Wish I Had An Angel

(photos by the Islander)



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