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Arena Treptow, Berlin, Germany
21st February 2008
Nightwish, Pain & Krieger

Over the past few years, I had grown bored with NIGHTWISH. The album ‘Century Child’ never excited me, the clichéd 80s metal references that I perceived even annoyed me, ‘Once’ sounded a lot better to me again, but I had the feeling that by then I had heard it all. Even though NIGHTWISH has always been great live, I would’ve never been bothered to visit one again. And then, in 2005, the news came that singer Tarja Turunen was thrown out and that NIGHTWISH was looking for a new singer.

Since then, I had been expecting NIGHTWISH to go down. Replacing a singer is like changing your identity; and replacing Tarja Turunen, who had become an icon, a rock diva and beauty queen with a unique sound, must mean compromising your musical quality as well. In 2007, NIGHTWISH announced the new singer and released their new album, ‘Dark Passion Play’.  Now they came to Berlin to promote that album, and my huge curiosity for the new singer brought me to a full Arena on a rainy evening in Berlin.


The concert would start at 20.00h, but when we entered the Arena at 19.30h, the support act KRIEGER from Dresden (Germany) was already playing and the standing area was completely filled. Luckily we still found comfortable seats with a great view on the centre of the stage, surrounded by people who were at least 10 years older than ourselves. On stage an athletically built topless man was screaming into the microphone with a light, raw voice. The music didn’t really fit into the NIGHTWISH genre - it was simply old school rock, so to say, no affiliations to any kind of bombast at all, and in comparison actually a pretty thin type of sound.

Still, KRIEGER presented a stable, steady rock show that promoted their self-titled debut album that came out in September 2007. Lighting was pretty poor in either white or red or blue, and the band received a mellow reaction from the audience. Nothing remarkable happened on stage, even though the band was definitely devoted to their music. It wasn’t bad, but not memorable either.
Music: 7
Performance: 7
Light: 6.5
Sound: 8
Total: 7.1


After only 15 minutes of waiting the lights were turned off and from the side, a man came walking on stage, standing still in the middle and raising his hands. The audience raised their hands back in reply and screamed as the man ascended to the raised drum kit. It’s the freaking support band, how the hell did he pull that off, one wonders. During their show it became clear that this band has been around longer than I had presumed for a support band that I’d personally never heard of. Indeed, they have been around for more than 10 years now and are now special guests during the NIGHTWISH tour.

PAIN is the project of former HYPOCRISY front man Peter Tägtgren, a widely respected Swedish musician and producer. With the latest album, ‘Psalms of Extinction’, Tägtgren aims for a worldwide audience, wanting to make PAIN “the biggest fucking band of the genre”. That would be the metal-plus-electronics-genre. Even though the music itself didn’t really sound all that new to me, it definitely had more affiliations with NIGHTWISH’s music than KRIEGER, and it was definitely music that excited my simple soul, and that of the rest of the audience. What happened here was something I’d never seen before with a support band. PAIN’s catchy, rhythmic, and very powerful rock/metal succeeded in making the entire venue move from the first to the last song, while Tägtgren and his supporting band members definitely had a gift to communicate with the audience, orally as well as physically.

By the fourth song they seemed to be the evening’s headliner, and the highly versatile voice of Tägtgren only faltered during one of the ballads. Even though it was short, this was a full rock show by experienced and gifted performers, and I could’ve left the Arena with a satisfied feeling even without seeing NIGHTWISH......

Music: 8
Performance: 8.5
Light: 7.5
Sound: 8
Total: 8


NIGHTWISH started their concert with a bang - literally. Fireworks were launched as the band entered the stage, the new singer Anette Olzon being the last. Even though the Swedish newbie enthusiastically waved at the audience, the response was cool. This was going to be tough. When she started singing, the band’s strategy was clear; they were not replacing Tarja Turunen with a bad copy, but rather introducing a new style and a new personality, and indeed a new band identity. Olzon’s looks, presentation, voice, and personality presented an entirely new image on stage, which resulted in completely different stage dynamics as before. Olzon was chatting to the audience, connecting all the time (“I do see Finnish flags, but where’s the Swedish?”), moving up and down the stage, and added a playful freshness to the music. At times she pushed it a bit too far by having the audience screaming “Ha! Ha!” with her, but generally it worked.

She even threw out condoms for after-concert-safe-pleasure - definitely working on bonding with the fans. Her voice is not a soprano voice, but rather a female rock singer’s voice whose timbre is reminiscent of WITHIN TEMPTATION’s Sharon den Adel, which reduces the amount of drama and bombast of NIGHTWISH’ music and puts the music itself in the foreground again. This new incarnation of NIGHTWISH is above all balanced. Now, the voice was one of the instruments that added to the music instead of grabbing all attention. This was a band playing, a unity existing of 5 people rather than a stage-filling diva and her backing musicians. Obviously, both parties came out better, even though Olzon’s voice is more limited and was at times not powerful enough to dominate over the instruments. Still, her own sound fitted NIGHTWISH’ music very well; she succeeded in making it sound different yet the same.

During ‘Wishmaster’ however (one of the very few old songs) it would’ve sounded better if Olzon had tried to do something different as well. Song parts that gave Turunen room to show off her voice are simply not suited to Olzen’s voice. In contrast, ‘Nemo’ sounded great. Olzon at times even left the stage so that the band was playing alone. That, and her voice, gave the band some fresh air, it almost felt as if it was a chance to breathe that they didn’t have before. By the end they played 4 “extra” songs, introduced by a remark that they “were now gonna pretend to leave the stage and let you scream enough to stroke our egos and come back to play songs we were going to play anyway”.

The light & effects show and atmosphere both on and off stage was absolutely wonderful; the entire Arena was on fire, and by the end of the show Olzen was applauded enthusiastically; her warm and cute personality closed into the heart of the fans. The German critics had already officially acknowledged her qualities a few days before; they won an ECHO award for “Band of the Year (international)”, for which the band thanked the audience during the concert. Even though there will always be fans who prefer Tarja Turunen, my interest in NIGHTWISH as a great rock band has been renewed that night thanks to Anette Olzon. 

01. Bye Bye Beautiful
02. Cadence of Her Last Breath
03. Dark Chest of Wonders
04. Everdream
05. Whoever Brings the Night
06. Amaranth
07. Dead to the World
08. The Islander
09. The Poet and the Pendulum
10. Sahara
11. Nemo
12. 7 Days to the Wolves
13. Wishmaster
14. Wish I Had an Angel

Music: 8.5
Performance: 9
Light: 10
Sound: 9
Total: 9.2

All pictures by Nadine Ginzel

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