Friday, October 19, 2007

Phantom of the Nightwish

Yesterday evening, the Dilettante, her friend Tristan and a special representative from Night After Night trekked to Nokia, the serendipitously named—and located: half a block from the theater presenting Phantom of the Opera!—venue hosting Finnish band Nightwish.

The charms of Nightwish had eluded me for years. I just couldn't get into to the mix of power metal and operatic vocals. This all changed when the band unceremoniously kicked out singer Tarja Turunen, replaced her with a Swede with a pop background named Anette Olzon, and released the album Dark Passion Play. One listen and I was hooked. Actually I should specify: One listen to the first track, the 14-minute-long "The Poet and the Pendulum," and I was hooked. So many things I love are crammed into it: Abba and Metallica, Jim Steinman and Lord of the Rings, blastbeats and a ginormous orchestra. Also a singalong chorus, a Celtic gig interlude and a children's choir, because why not? ("Because why not?" is my favorite rationale for art.)

Nightwish "The Poet and the Pendulum" (from Dark Passion Play, 2007)

I'm sure Night After Night will comment on the musical side of the show so I'll just expand a bit on some side aspects. I can't remember, for instance, the last time I saw men sing along so lustily at a gig; I suppose the power riffage and brute drumming allow them to distance themselves from the fact that they're singing along to very pop choruses. Still, it was a sigh to behold to see all those dudes mouthing long stretches of verbose lyrics.

Another surprising thing was the band's amiable stage presence. Mastermind Tuomas Holopainen played the part of tortured artiste to the hilt behind his keyboards, but the rest looked very happy to be there, particularly guitarist Emppu Vuorinen. It was actually a bit jarring at times, considering the lyrical content ("I cannot die, I, a whore for the cold world," etc.). I'll quote Tristan's suggestions for Anette:
- Avoid smiling. We realize that given your genetic and ancestral makeup this may be impossible. In that case, perhaps a black veil could be considered, maybe one decorated with silver spiderwebs.
- Do not wave happily at audience members. Try instead to look malevolent and resigned.
- Please avoid making any gesture whose meaning is “I encourage you to applaud!” Instead, gestures in the category of prayer, anguish or ritual sacrifice could be substituted. We can provide helpful examples for you to emulate. You can also fold your arms Pharaoh-style.

You can tell Tristan regularly goes to the Met.

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