Nightwish and Sonata Arctica have been at the forefront of the Finnish power metal scene, with each band having been around about 40 years combined. Only once though, had both bands toured North America at the same time (in 2005), so it was a pleasant surprise when both bands were announced as touring together on Nightwish’s second run through of North America in support of their most recent album Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Along with Dutch melodic/symphonic metallers Delain, the bands set forth to put their brand of metal across the continent, making a stop on March 16 in Kansas City, MO.
Prior to the stop in Kansas City, the tour had some bumps in the road, most notably a flu that had been floating around the Nightwish camp that forced a cancellation in Boise, ID the week prior. Seemingly, with the show going off without a hitch for the most part, things were back to normal (more on this later). Delain kicked things off with a 30-minute set, and despite the time constraints, they showed a great deal of energy and a highlighted mic stand. It should also be noted that they were without a bass player for the duration of the tour, as Otto Schimmelpennick van der Oije was back in The Netherlands to be with his wife, who was expecting during the tour. The set list kicked off with “Suckerpunch,” which showed the importance of having a frontwoman that can get a crowd into it, as Charlotte Wessels proved here and throughout their set. The set list was surprisingly heavy on songs from We are the Others, as half of the list was devoted to the album, but it also showed off songs from their latest EP Lunar Prelude, as well as a song from The Human Contradiction (“Army of Dolls”). By the time they finished their set with “Not Enough,” Delain gained fans that may not have heard their material before and existing fans were satisfied.
Sonata Arctica was next to hit the stage, and despite just a 45-minute set, everything that made their live set enjoyable was present, from vocalist Tony Kakko’s in-between humorous banter with the fans to the equally energetic set of songs. With several albums under their belt, picking seven songs, intro not included, was not an easy task, but Sonata Arctica did well to at least pick a song from most of the albums, with only their debut Ecliptica having more than one song on the list. Beginning from their latest album Pariah’s Child and the song “The Wolves Die Young,” Sonata Arctica dived into what is becoming a regular occurrence of lively music, strong stage presence, and a great sense of humor during the in-between banter. Going into older favorites “My Land,” which featured banter about the band’s home land, and “Fullmoon,” the songs almost sound as though it never aged thanks to the overall energy in which the band play. They slowed things down halfway through the set with a combination of “Tallulah” and “Last Drop Falls” before delving into “I Have a Right.” Sonata Arctica closed out strong with “The Cage” and “Don’t Say a Word,” but not before banter in-between the songs got so long that Tony encouraged the crowd to shout, “Shut the **** up, Tony!” If people didn’t love Sonata Arctica before this live set, it might be a good idea to check your pulse.
Nightwish was the last to take the stage, but midway through the opening song “Shudder Before the Beautiful,” bassist Marco Hietala went off the stage and was notably absent for much of the second song “Yours is an Empty Hope.” Prior to “Ever Dream,” vocalist Floor Jansen kept the crowd’s attention with a little fun banter while Hietala’s technical difficulties were being fixed. Hietala would soon appear and apologize for an outburst, as problems with his bass flustered him and he stormed off the stage during the opening song. Once the problems were solved, Nightwish were able to put on their best show, with Jansen proving to be one of the best live vocalists and a perfect fit for Nightwish. Going through their latest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful for the majority of their set list, it proves to be better in a live setting than in studio. There were also instances in which Nightwish delved into their extensive discography, as all except for Angels Fall First were mined for songs, with “Stargazers” and “Wishmaster” from Oceanborn and Wishmaster, respectively. Overall, what started out rather disastrous was ultimately saved, as Nightwish put on a great performance in spite of earlier problems in the set.