Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nightwish Belfast

Tonight marked Nightwish first concert date anywhere in Ireland, one of two local dates on their 40 date 'Dark Passion Play' tour.

The venue was Belfast's Mandela Hall, part of the Queen's University complex -- an intimate but still sizeable setting.

Things began rather unusually when we simply strolled in off the street without being asked for a ticket! So far so casual.

The support band were Pain, a compotent, indeed impressive bunch, who worked the crowd well. Unfortunately there was then a delay of almost an hour before the main act came on. Was it worth the wait?

Bouncing on stage to thunderous applause, the band kicked off with 'Bye Bye Beautiful', a two-fingered salute to their recently departed singer Tarja.

The band's sound was tight and highly compotent, with impressive acoustics from the small venue. But the question on everyone's lips was 'how does new vocalist Annette measure up?'

On the basis of tonight, Tarja can go get a day job. Annette may not possess the operatic pipes of her predecessor, but she more than makes up for it with her gutsy performances and boundless enthusiasm. She was an absolute joy to watch, throwing everything into every track, working the crowd, smiling incessantly and even bantering in surprisingly good English between songs.

Tuomas gave a polished and often intense keyboard performance, while Marco frequently stole the show with his anecdotes (some inaudible) and vodka drinking!

Compared to a lot of bands I've seen, Nightwish really knew how to work the crowd -- sprinting round the stage, joking, throwing plectrums and above all, really getting into it! This was top notch entertainment.

Most of the new album was performed, including the ambitious opener; 'The Poet And The Pendulum', (for some reason shoe-horned into the middle of the set) and three of the four singles (Eva was notably absent).
The biggest roars were reserved for the 'Once' tracks, particularly 'Dark Chest Of Wonders', 'Nemo' and the closing 'Wish I Had An Angel', every one superb.

Encores were the surprisingly intense; 'Seven Days To The Wolves', the classic 'Wishmaster' and the previously mentioned 'Angel'.

This was debatably my first metal concert, and a great experience it was, complete with head banging, crowd surfing and a couple of manic Chinese blokes pogoing on our toes! I'd definitely go back for another helping! An excellent night.

For anyone wondering if Nightwish can survive without Tarja, worry no more. On the basis of tonight's performance, they have a long, long career ahead of them.

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