With critically acclaimed compilation Decades released on March 9th this year, Nightwish are on the final dates of the mammoth eponymous world tour – and they’ve been on tour almost constantly since the release date. I managed to join them on their fourth to last date at Wembley SSE Arena to once again take in the awesome stage show and relive the memories of albums past.

The arena is already half full by the time the lights dim and Beast in Black fires onto stage after “Night Crawler” by Judas Priest, an appropriate introduction to their heavy metal sound. All nine tracks they play in their fantastic 50-minute set are from their debut album Berserker released in 2017 (two years after their inception), and frontman Yannis Papadopulos even teased us in between songs with news of an upcoming album – From Hell with Love – coming on February 8th 2019.

Beast in Black have a great chemistry with one another, their camaraderie oozing in bucket-loads. They have great energy and are an extremely entertaining band to watch, with tight instrumentation and spectacular musicianship. Their set flies by, after which they depart the stage to roars of appreciation from the enamoured audience, and then there is a 30-minute interval whilst the crew sets up for Nightwish.

Why does the “Élan” video have over 53 million views? Don’t ask, just watch…

At 20:50 the curtains drop to rapturous cheers as the headliners prepare to start. A narrative set to clockwork imaging upon the giant screen behind the stage asks us to go back in time, revisit memories and leave our cell phones alone – the irony of which lost against the resplendent back-light of cell phones alight in the audience. After a gorgeous intro by Troy Donockley on the pipes, the band come onto the stage to more roars and head straight into Once’s “Dark Chest of Wonders,” before slipping seamlessly into the same album’s lead single “I Wish I Had an Angel”.

Vocalist Floor Jansen is stunning and statuesque on the stage, an operatic Xena replete with corset and cape. “10th Man Down” warms up the previously chilly arena with more spectacular pyro effects before early-era classics “Come Cover Me” and “Gethsemane”. Whilst Floor introduces the latter, she refers back to a ‘memory lane’, a not-so-subtle nod to the live DVD that was filmed on the very same stage three years ago.

The set jumps back and forth in chronology, as newer track “Elan” fires up the audience further before diving into the past with “Sacrament of Wilderness,” the emotive “Dead Boy’s Poem” and jovial “Elvenpath,” and back out into Imaginaereum’s hit “I Want My Tears Back,” which positively sets the room and band alight, jigging and jumping. Through the energy, though, it’s clear that it’s not Floor Jansen’s most comfortable song to sing, a minor blemish in a set of otherwise flawless delivery. The strength returns with a thrilling run of “Last Ride of the Day,” “The Carpenter,” “The Kinslayer,” “Slaying the Dreamer,” the timeless classic “Nemo” and the most wondrous 12-minute epic, “Ghost Love Score” – a challenging song she nails with gusto.

Shots of Nightwish at Massey Hall (Toronto, ON) on March 21, 2018.

The whole show is mesmerising and explosive – especially with fire, pyro and the large digital backdrops providing jaw-dropping visuals which are bound to hypnotise and enthral. The whole band are beyond impressive, giving their all to every moment of the show, with the spectacular “The Greatest Show on Earth” laying testament to this, with a wondrous affair of colour, pyro and the story of culture and humankind.

Nightwish can fill arenas so easily because they effortlessly exude the energy required to do so. They are one of the few bands that pull off greatness, without getting too big for their boots – I wholly recommend that old and new fans check out a live show on their next tour, it’s just too good to miss.

Nightwish’s Setlist:

01. Intro – (Swanheart performed by Troy Donockley)
02. Dark Chest of Wonders
03. Wish I Had an Angel
04. 10th Man Down
05. Come Cover Me
06. Gethsemane
07. Élan
08. Sacrament of Wilderness
09. Dead Boy’s Poem
10. Elvenjig ([traditional] cover)
11. Elvenpath
12. I Want My Tears Back
13. Last Ride of the Day
14. The Carpenter
15. The Kinslayer
16. Devil & the Deep Dark Ocean
17. Nemo
18. Slaying the Dreamer
19. The Greatest Show on Earth
20. Chapter I – III
21. Ghost Love Score
22. The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapter IV & V) [Song played from tape]