Nightwish returns to Denver, Colorado, at the Mission Ballroom with a hunger to play live again. Mission Ballroom was close if not sold out for Nightwish. The pandemic has been very challenging for Nightwish. They released their Human. :II: Nature album just as the pandemic began in 2020. The Human. :II: Nature tour was postponed until this year. They performed a virtual Livestream performance for fans last year. Tonight, Colorado Nightwish fans finally saw the Human. :II: Nature tour, plus some of their favorite Nightwish songs performed live.
Opening for Nightwish is their fellow Finnish citizens, the Helsinki-based power metal quintet Beast in Black. Beast in Black is a crossover of Hammerfall, Sabaton, and 80s rock. It would be Beast in Black second time in Colorado as they had just played in Colorado Springs two weeks ago. Beast in Black played a shortened version of the Dark Connection tour as the opening act. They saw them play tracks from across their three-album discography, focusing on their first and most popular album, Berserker, and their 2021 release Dark Connection. Beast in Black brings the same energy and excitement to every performance. Whether they are playing in front of a few hundred people or a couple of thousand metalheads at the Mission Ballroom in Denver, Colorado, doesn’t matter.
Beast in Black is the brainchild of former Battle Beast guitarist Anton Karbanen. The Finnish-Greek-Hungarian power metal had triple axe attacks and dueling guitar solos. Plus, a lead singer in Yannis Papadopoulos with an extensive vocal range. They opened the show with “Blade Runner” from the Dark Connection album to the fans’ screams in the packed Mission Ballroom audience. Yannis thanked the audience and went into the title track, “From Hell With Love,” from their second album. They continued with the track “Beast in Black” with a triple axe attack from guitarists Anton Kabanen and Kasperi Heikkinen and bassist Máté Molnár. Highlights from the rest of the set included the “Die by the Blade” and the fun “One Night in Tokyo.”
Beast in Black delivered a tight performance as the opening act. I was amazed at how incredible Papadopoulos’ voice and energy throughout the night were in the Mile High city. He was running back and forth across the stage but could still maintain his diverse vocal range. The quick nine-song set ended with another from the Berserker album, “End of the World” The band got the audience to clap their hands in the air as the song started. “End of the World” was pure power metal with Atte Palokangas drumming and Papadopoulos screaming vocals. Beast in Black is a headliner in an opening act spot. They could get audience participation throughout the short set was exceptional as an opening act. Beast in Black will be headlining the Mission Ballroom in the near future.
Yannis Papadopoulos – vocals
Anton Kabanen – guitars
Kasperi Heikkinen – guitars
Mate Molnar – bass
Atte Palokangas – drums
1.) Blade Runner
2.) From Hell With Love
3.) Beast in Black
4.) Born Again
5.) Die by the Blade
6.) Moonlight Rendezvous
7.) One Night in Tokyo
8.) Blind and Frozen
9.) End of the World
Nightwish did not disappoint. I have seen Nightwish three times, and each time, they’re better and tighter with every live performance. When Marco Hietala left last year, many fans wondered how Nightwish would replace him. He had been a significant part of Nightwish over the previous twenty-plus years, including as the second lead signer to Floor Jensen’s vocals. Jukka Koskinen was introduced as Marco’s replacement bassist for the tour. Multi-instrumentalist member Troy Donockley took over Hietala’s lead vocal parts on a few tracks.
While some of the classic Marco Nightwish songs such as “Wish I Had An Angel” and “Phantom of the Opera” was now missing from the setlist. This allowed Nightwish to play more songs focusing on Floor’s stunning vocals. She can sing Tarja Turunen‘s operatic high octave vocals or Anette Olzon‘s pop style vocals and still be able to put her stamp on them. There were some beautiful duets with Floor throughout the show, with Donockley singing in place of Hietala.
Nightwish began the night with a dark stage and a spotlight on Kai Hahto, the drummer with “Music” played as an intro. The rest of the members appeared on stage and opened with the first live performance of the song “Noise” from Human. :II: Nature album to the roar of the crowd. Lights came on as Floor Jensen walked to the center of the stage wearing the “metal meets steampunk” outfit seen in the Human. :II: Nature album. Floor Jensen is not only the front person for Nightwish; she is the heart and soul of the band.
The classic “Planet Hell” from Once followed “Noise.” What used to be a duet with Marco Hietala, Floor sings many of Marco’s parts. She does an incredible job going from various octaves to create a beautiful interpretation of the classic “Planet Hell.” The popular Human. :II: Nature song, “Tribal,” followed after “Planet Hell.” The audience witnessed the Floor’s extensive vocal range within the first three songs. “Tribal” has Floor singing with raspy vocals.
Behind Floor on the upper platform riser was the leader and mastermind of Nightwish, Tuomas Holopainen, on keyboards. He is positioned between the drummer Hahto and multi-instrumentalist member Troy Donockley. He was smiling throughout the night, showing how much he enjoyed finally playing to a live audience. Throughout the evening, Holopainen playing reminded me of the late Keith Emerson of ELP.
Some of the night’s highlights included the two duets between Floor and Donockley. The first was “I Want My Tears Back,” from the Imaginaerum album. Troy did a fine job singing Marco’s parts to Floor’s vocals. The second duet was the beautiful acoustic song “How’s The Heart” from the Human. :II: Nature album. This song showcases how Troy’s vocals worked beautifully with Floor’s voice.
It was great to hear tracks from the Human. :II: Nature album performed live. Some of us older Nightwish fans were happy to hear classics like “Nemo,” “Ghost Love Score,” and “7 Days of Wolves” performed live again. There will always be songs from Nightwish’s earlier materials that fans, including myself, would have loved to hear. However, tonight’s setlist was fine in showcasing songs from the last twenty years.
The night ended with the colossal “The Greatest Show On Earth” from the Endless Forms Most Beautiful album and a vocal-only performance of “All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World: Ⅷ. Ad Astra” by Floor. Nightwish’s new lineup played amazingly tight together. They also look like they enjoy performing together, as seen by the smiles from all the band members throughout the night. We will miss Marco Hietala, but Troy Donockley did a great job singing Marco’s part. Through it all, Nightwish is Tuomas Holopainen’s songs perform beautifully by the incredibly talented vocalist Floor Jensen. It’s time to listen to the Human. :II: Nature album again.
Tuomas Holopainen – keyboards, piano, synthesizers
Floor Jansen – lead vocals
Emppu Vuorinen – guitars
Troy Donockley – uilleann pipes, tin whistle, low whistle, guitars, bouzouki, bodhrán, male vocals
Kai Hahto – drums, percussion
Jukka Koskinen – bass
1.) Music (intro with Kai on percussion)
3.) Planet Hell
7.) She Is My Sin
9.) 7 Days to the Wolves
10.) Dark Chest of Wonders
11.) I Want My Tears Back
12.) Ever Dream
14.) How’s the Heart? (Acoustic with Troy and Floor)
16.) Last Ride of the Day
17.) Ghost Love Score
18.) The Greatest Show on Earth (Chapter I: Four Point Six;… more )
19.) All the Works of Nature Which Adorn the World: Ⅷ. Ad Astra (Floor singing her part)