Pain is Hypocrisy frontman Peter Tägtgren's industrial-edged metal side project and, apart from occasional guest musicians on the, to date, 5 studio albums, Tägtgren is more or less autonomous in the recordings, performing all instruments and vocals himself. Earning the prestigious 'special guest' sole support slot on Nightwish's current European tour, Pain's live line-up is completed by bassist Johan Husgafvel, drummer David Wallin, and guitarist René Sebastian. Taking to the stage around 7.50pm, they launch into opening track 'Same Old Song' from 2005 album 'Dancing with the Dead' and, with an engagingly energetic performance from the offset, the crowd reciprocate with lively reactions to the band's music. Then follows Tägtgren's heavied-up version of The Beatles' 'Eleanor Rigby' from 2002's 'Nothing Remains the Same' which sparks the audience into a greater mosh-pit frenzy. Opening for a band as iconic as Nightwish with their concomitant dedicated fanbase, particularly with generically disparate music, must be no easy task, though judging by the huge cheers when certain songs are announced, a portion of the 2,000 strong audience in the sold out Academy must already be fans of the band, and those unacquainted with their music before tonight are seemingly won over by Pain's accomplished live performance and array of strong material. New tracks 'Zombie Slam' and 'Nailed to the Ground' from last year's 'Psalms of Extinction' are also well received though, for me, it's the mid-era Pain material which really shines tonight - 'Just Hate Me' works so much better as a live track, and 'Shut Your Mouth', with its 'alarm clock' intro (or at least through its video interpretation), is their set closing masterstroke. Already a fan of Pain, I'd never managed to catch them live and, tonight, they exceed all my expectations. A phenomenal live band.
Sunday 30th March 2008
Academy in Newcsatle, UK
The last time I saw Nightwish was at Nottingham Rock City in 2004 with Tarja Turunen. Hearing mainly positive reports of post-Tarja Nightwish for other dates on their tour with new vocalist Anette Olzon, I had high expectations for tonight. As intro music plays through the PA and band members appear on stage to deafening screams from the audience, they commence with 'Bye Bye Beautiful' from stunning new release 'Dark Passion Play', and those reports I'd read are immediately confirmed, as the four Finns, together with their new Swedish frontwoman, look like a band rejuvenated, as they play with a passion and unrelenting energy, bound together by a rediscovered onstage chemistry. With a set largely comprised of material from the new album, highlights are undoubtedly the epic 13+ minute 'The Poet and the Pendulum', and the poignantly melodic instrumental piece 'Last of the Wilds'. Preceding the latter is 'The Islander', for which bassist/vocalist Marco Hietala introduces Troy Donockley to the stage for "the last time for a while", as he performs uilleann pipes on both songs. Hietala is a skilled vocalist, and his singing on 'The Islander' shows another dimension to his voice with a folkier delivery reminiscent of Martin Walkyier's work in Skyclad. 'Last of the Wilds' perhaps provides one of the evening's more emotional moments as the band are discernibly ecstatic to be performing with Donockley, and both guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen wander over to give him a huge hug before he exits the stage. From the Tarja-era material aired tonight, there are disappointingly no songs from, to my mind, the band's seminal work 'Oceanborn'. 'Century Child' is represented with a single track, 'Slaying the Dreamer', and Olzon's vocals, although different in style to Turunen, and lacking her operatic flair, sound just as fitting for the music, and perhaps even bring a degree of innovative freshness to the material. Hietala announces 'Nemo' as "this is our final song...but it's a big one!", which engenders huge movement from the crowd, before the band exit the stage, then re-appear a couple of minutes later for encore tracks of '7 Days to the Wolves', 'Wishmaster' (the earliest track played tonight), and 'Wish I Had An Angel'. So, post-Tarja Nightwish? Awesome! Olzon is a far more animated, natural performer and interacts with the audience with a far greater sincerity than Turunen ever did. Some of the Nightwish purists will perhaps be critical of Olzon and her disparate vocal style, though they will hopefully remain in a minority. My own minor criticism is the lack of early material in their set, although with a strong back catalogue of six albums worth of songs to draw upon it is, like I say, only a very minor criticism.
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Reviews & Photography by Mark Holmes
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