NIGHTWISH with SONATA ARCTICA and DELAIN at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City
Words by Randy Shatkowski | Photos by John Thornbrugh
European symphonic metal band Nightwish brought their tour to the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, along with Sonata Arctica and Delain, and all three bands had an element that elevated them above most of their contemporaries.
For opener Delain, that element was energy. Delain‘s sound fits very comfortably on a Nightwish tour (female vocals, orchestral backing tracks), however, as a whole, the band isn’t quite on the same level in terms of songwriting. What they had, however, was energy, both in terms of on-stage antics – even drummer Ruben Israel was active behind the kit, leaping out of his seat and juggling drumsticks with aplomb – and connection with the crowd. The give and take between Delain and the audience was thrilling, with the band serving as the perfect cheerleader to hype the audience up for the next two bands.
Sonata Arctica were not as thrilling to see on stage, and their stage presence devolved into awkward mumbling by frontman Tony Kakko a few times, but where they excelled was ability. This band knows how to play, and they effortlessly threw in technical elements complex enough to please musicians while performing songs catchy enough to please casual fans. Drummer Tommy Portimo brutalized his kit, throwing in double-kick runs underneath impressive ad-lib fills at every opportunity and made it look easy.
And of course the headliners, Nightwish, had an element that made their show phenomenal: presence. I was intrigued to see how Nightwish did with their current/third vocalist, Floor Jansen, having only seen them with their previous singer, Anette Olzon. While she has neither the inhuman range of original vocalist Tarja Turunen (but then again, who does?) or the manic energy of Anette Olzon, she brings her own flavor to the band and it fits perfectly. She doesn’t move around on stage much, but she doesn’t need to: she commands your attention while standing stock-still. Her voice is more limited than her predecessors, but she’s so magnetic on-stage she still seems to be a better match for the band than Tarja or Anette. With a set full of sweeping, cinematic songs – late-show highlight Ghost Love Score topped ten minutes in length but never felt like it was dragging – and frequently nautical imagery, the stately, queen-like stolidity of Floor Jansen is a force to be reckoned with, and if given the chance, not something you should miss. The rest of Nightwish also deserve praise for their composure in a set marred with technical difficulties. Midway through the first song, bassist Marco Hietala’s rig quit on him. The band continued through the second song sans bass while techs tried to fix the problems, and took a brief break before relaunching the show after the issue was resolved. Mics cutting out, lighting cues being mistimed, and recurring issues with the bass rig did nothing to disrupt the band, who powered through what would for most bands be a frustrating set and never once lost their cool. As they say, the show must go on, and Nightwish‘s show did indeed.
Especially considering these bands are from Europe and only infrequently do major US tours, if you have the opportunity to see them on the rest of their current tour, you should absolutely do so. [blog type=”alt” heading=”Nightwish | Sonata Arctica | Delain – Uptown Theater – Kansas City, MO – 16 March 2016″ heading_type=”block” tags=”nightwish-kc-031616″ /]