The Wembley Arena is a huge deal for many bands: with a capacity of 12,500, it’s an iconic venue that has played host to the likes of Queen, Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden in the past. On this cold night in December, legions of fans are queuing up outside to see the UK’s first arena performance from Nightwish, the final show of their European tour in support of Endless Forms Most Beautiful. Shortly before the show, singer Floor Jansen has revealed that it will be filmed for an upcoming DVD and that there will also be a surprise guest – so excitement levels are high.
Amorphis are the first to take the stage. The Finnish band’s music is a mix of death metal with other genres like progressive and folk. They put on a great performance and get the crowd warmed up well, though they don’t seem to be as excited at the prospect of playing Wembley as the other bands do. With a beautiful backdrop but few other gimmicks, they play a short set of 8 songs, finishing with House of Sleep. A good start to the night. (7/10)
Following them are Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy, bringing with them their new frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz. Their show kicks off with a bang and it’s immediately clear that Alissa is a real powerhouse, growling both the band’s old and new songs with ease as she bounces around the stage. The setlist consists largely of songs from their most recent albums, War Eternal and Khaos Legions. Unlike Angela Gossow (the band’s previous pioneering vocalist), Alissa doesn’t require any effects to pull off her vocals, and she seems to have endless energy and enthusiasm. Their performance is stellar and by the time they conclude the show with their most famous song (Nemesis) they have won over the crowd, many of whom aren’t even fans of the harsher side of metal. (9/10)
And finally it’s the moment everyone’s been waiting for. A curtain in front of the stage drops and Nightwish launch straight into Shudder Before The Beautiful, the opening song of the album. They’ve also brought their full production with them – huge screens with videos that accompany each song, spectacular lighting and even fireworks illuminate the stage. Floor powers her way through Yours Is An Empty Hope, Ever Dream and Storytime. At that point, pipes player Troy Donockley joins them on stage. As a Brit, he’s clearly beside himself with joy at getting to headline the venue.“I’ve been wanting to say this since I was nine years old…” he says. “Hello Wembley!” My Walden follows, a jaunty folk number that gets the entire crowd dancing.
Keeping the hits flowing, there are fab performances of Nemo, I Want My Tears Back and even something from deep into the back catalogue: Stargazers. The final portion of the show is pretty much non-stop epic. Fan favourite Ghost Love Score (or Ghost Love Floor as it has been nicknamed) doesn’t disappoint, and neither does a storming rendition of the usual show closer Last Ride of the Day. But it doesn’t end there… There’s a new epic to perform, and it really is a showstopper. The appropriately titled The Greatest Show On Earth is the final track, a spectacular 20 minute journey through the history of our planet complete with amazing visuals, fireworks and yes – that special guest appearance. At the very end of the song, biologist Richard Dawkins appears on stage to reprise his narration from the album, and is met with much applause.
Overall, this Wembley show is an incredible night that neither the band nor fans will ever forget, and one that cannot be recreated. Thankfully, we’ll get to relive it on DVD. (10/10)
Author and photos: Sophie CleverlyRead the full story