A minagary of devoted fans line the block of The Ogden Theater in the stunning and full city of Denver, Colorado. Some fans sporting Nightwish shirts, others with Sabaton shirts, and even a handful with Delain shirts, all here for one thing; A fantastic Metal show. The line was endless, fitting the title for the tour no doubt as it wrapped around the building. The amount of fans showing up for a Symphonic Metal show in my home state made me proud. The fact that so many fans were willing to put up with an undersized and terribly set up venue was a surprise to me. However, no Metal fan in their right mind could pass up a lineup like this and the chance to experience Floor Jansen at the beginning of her prime. Clearly, the fans who will forever be butt hurt over Tarja stayed home sadly. The real Metal fans showed up that night. All those fans were treated to one of best Metal shows the Mile High City has ever seen.
As a huge Delain fan (as you probably know if you follow this blog) I was ecstatic about seeing this band for the second time in 6 months. The first time I saw them, I was mesmerized beyond anything I had experienced before. This time, Delain only had 30 minutes to mesmerize the crowd and hook them with power and energy. Were they as successful with a shorter set? Not surprisingly, yes, Delain successfully pulled the crowd in with a blazingly fast set. Even with the sound problems, shortened set, Delain were the most entertaining band of the night. Front woman Charlotte Wessels has the incredible ability to keep eye contact with everyone in the venue at once. Her stage presence is strong, but inviting and so exciting. The band altogether is tight, technical, and eye catching. They opened with the heavy and dark Mother Machine, to crowd favorites like Get The Devil Out of Me, Stardust, Not Enough, and Army of Dolls. The crowd also got the incredible honor of Marco Hietala of Nightwish coming out for the first time on this tour for The Gathering. The crowd exploded with cheers and screams, finally matching the noise and excitement that Delain deserves. It was an experience I will never forget.
Sabaton, the legendary Power Metal band, joined this tour later in the announcements (Much to Delain fans’ chagrin) and are another crowd favorite with a fairly large following in the states. Sabaton always put on a energetic, educational, and flawless show. At The Ogden Theater, they played favorites like Ghost Division, Gott Mit Uns, Carolus Rex, and Primo Victoria. That night, Sabaton were explosive and highly entertaining as they should be for the entirety of the tour, but not as good as they were on last year’s tour. When I saw them in Denver in 2014 with Iced Earth and Revamp, the band was nonstop pounding Power Metal for at least an hour. This 2015 Sabaton set wasn’t as tight and fluid as that particular show. It seemed like the band was trying to impress to hard with clearly rehearsed antics and an unnecessary comedy act. Although Sabaton showed immense personality and had Joakim playing guitar at one point, it was a let down compared to Delain’s nonstop and fluid set. I love Sabaton and all their music and lyrical content, but this set was disappointing. The fans paid for a Metal show, not a variety show featuring two great Symphonic Metal bands. Also, Sabaton’s music lacks diversity in a live setting. My point with this critique is that Sabaton did not fit on this tour, at all. The opening band put on a better show than the co-headliner, in my opinion.
Pioneers of Symphonic Metal, Nightwish, are known for their enchanting and powerful shows with limited added production. They are a no frills dynamic live band with immense musicality, so my expectations were high for their show. This was sadly my first time seeing Nightwish, making the show even more important than normal. The last time Nightwish played at The Ogden Theater, they had no lead vocalist and the show was not up to the band’s standards. This show was not only important to the fans, but to every member of Nightwish. They had a lot to prove with this show, and they vastly succeeded with the quality. The setlist was perfectly crafted to ebb and flow seamlessly besides lovely gratuitous words from Floor and Marco. As a very first Nightwish show, you learn so much about the band through small interactions and passion filled musicianship. Every song was epic. Every song was beautiful and powerful. It was almost like watching a beautiful film constructed by James Cameron, but with one hell of a soundtrack.
Nightwish flawlessly performed new songs like Elan, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, Weak Fantasy, Yours Is An Empty Hope, opening with Shudder Before the Beautiful, and epic The Greatest Show on Earth. Floor was vastly impressive on these new songs, showing perfect melodies and effortlessly controlled power. Emppu also impressed me with his laser accurate guitar solos showing immense speed. Also, you do not realize how amazing of a pianist and keyboardist Tuomas is until watching his effervescent live performance. Marco’s vocals were absolutely spot on as Floor is able to harmonize better than any other Nightwish vocalist. Obviously Troy’s use of many different folk instruments added a new genuine layer to the show. The sound of Nightwish live sounds so much more authentic with Troy and Floor added to the mix.
The stage set up was perfect, with two large statues holding a keyboard and microphone and a unique stump made for Troy’s seat. It was unlike any setup I had seen before. It was very easy to see the front four members of the band. However, the lighting at The Ogden Theater was not apt for such a large show. I feel like drummer, KaI Hahto, was under lighted and hard to see at this particular venue. His drumset was mammoth and included an interesting green glowing symbol. Their effects and show design made it even more mesmerizing, but didn’t overshadow the explosive music. The stage presence from each member was unique and intense, but appreciative and inviting. In this small venue, it was fairly easy connect with each member. I am very thankful for the small venue for this, even though it was very crammed and hard to get comfortable.
Nightwish also played crowd pleasing classics like Amaranth, She is My Sin, the beautiful The Islander, Ever Dream, I Want My Tears Back. Most notably at this show, Floor’s rendition of older songs were absolutely mind blowing with power. Floor meets a level of vocal perfection on Ever Dream, also pulling out Stargazers to prove her operatic prowess. One of the greatest songs I have ever seen live is Ghost Love Score, however. Her passion, technique, power, vulnerability, and vocal endurance on this track is legendary. There are few singers that can perform at this level, but Floor even exceeds them after this performance. People who underappreciated and doubt this vocalist’s talent shall be silenced after this tour setlist is immortalized on a new DVD. Nightwish will remain the top pillar of Symphonic Metal, regardless of those who cannot accept Floor’s vocal style over the immense talent of this band.
To sum up this show, it’s one of the shows closest to perfection that I have ever seen in person. I do recommend seeing all three bands, just not at The Ogden Theater. The promoters seem to have vastly oversold this poorly setup and small venue. It was great to be so close to the bands without being in the pit, just not great being so close to other fans packed tight. It was the best show in the worst venue. I can say it would take a lineup even better than this to get me to come back to this venue. Instead, I suggest The Fillmore Auditorium, The Bluebird Theater, and Summit Music Hall.
Concert Rating: 9/10- Must See Tour