$13 for Internet access was just too much to pay, or else I would have blogged from Las Vegas this weekend. We went there primarily so that Dave and I could see Nightwish, an amazing metal band from Finland.
I actually learned about Nightwish from Dave back in 2005 when he mentioned in casual conversation that he had just seen a metal band with a female lead singer who was classically trained in opera. So of course my curiosity was piqued, and eventually I heard them on my XM radio so I bought their album Once. And I was blown away by their amazing, different sort of sound. (I'm a huge fan of 80s metal but I can't name one decent band with a female singer. No, Vixen does not count.)
So of course, the next time they came to Seattle I was going to be there. And that didn't happen until October 2007, when luck would have it, I got so sick the week before the concert that there was no way I could make it standing in a club for the show. I still regret not going, but I know I would have been sick for an extra week if I had gone to the show.
But I was going to see them live, and I was thrilled to find out they were coming back to the US in 2008 for a short tour. Unfortunately Seattle wasn't on their list, but Vancouver was, and so was Las Vegas. And the Vegas show was on a Saturday night. Of a long weekend. So that sealed the deal and I planned this trip a few months ago.
The show was at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay, which is basically a large club with a balcony. I hate TicketMaster so I bought the tickets through a fan site linked on the Nightwish page. This caused us some concern since the venue didn't get our names on the Will Call list until a couple of hours before the show. But that minor crisis was averted.
We stood in line briefly with all the goth and metal kids and grownups (it was an all ages show) and once the doors opened, we found a perfect spot in front of the bar, with a bench to lean on, where we had a perfect view of the stage but didn't need to be on the floor with everyone else. I guess that means I'm getting old, if I just want to hang out in back and stand there with my drink in a comfortable spot.
The HOB has an interesting scheme - there are a few bar tables with a great view of the stage that you can sit at *if* you incur at least a $150 bar tab. Their mixed drinks were about $8, and since Dave wasn't drinking, there was no way I could justify this. But if you go there with a group, it's a great deal and you'll be comfy. (That's the oldness talking again.)
We were pleasantly surprised by the opening band, Sonic Syndicate. I heard a couple of their song clips on MySpace and thought they *might* be ok. They are a metal band too (from Sweden, I think) and the interesting thing about them is that they have 2 lead vocalists, one who does the Cookie Monster death metal growly thing, and the other who can really sing. At the show we found out the one who can sing can also do growly, but it sounded different and surprisingly complementary to the other guy.
Usually I just tune out when it turns to the Cookie Monster sound, but these guys were really good. Their music was amazing, and having both vocalists was really cool. It was almost like the death metal vocal dude was there as another instrument that made up their sound. I think I'm going to download their stuff if I can find it on Amazon MP3, or buy the CD. I'm so over iTunes and their DRM.
Here's one of their videos:
Also, their bass player was a GIRL! And she was good, and it wasn't a big deal that she was a girl - she wasn't like Fergie or Gwen Stefani, whose girlness is part of their bands' image. She was just one of the members of the band, and awesome.
After a short break, Nightwish came on. I don't think I can even do justice to the show by writing any kind of review. It was just *incredible* and totally worth the wait. No fancy pyrotechnics, or costume changes, or elaborate video montages. Just the band, and their awesome music, and a ton of energy. It was the best show I've seen in a long time, probably partly because they're one of the few bands I've seen recently that I've never seen live before. I think HIM was the last.
They played several songs from the new album (Dark Passion Play):
Bye Bye Beautiful (kickass opener)
The Poet and the Pendulum (even better live)
Whoever Brings the Night
They almost ready my mind, because they skipped most of the ones I'm not crazy about. I am sad that they didn't do "Cadence of Her Last Breath" which is one of my favorites.
They also did quite a few of the older songs, which was interesting to watch how the new vocalist Anette handled those. Her voice is *really* different from Tarja's, an alto (if I had to guess) and a harder, more rock 'n' roll than the opera vibe that Tarja's has.
I Wish I Had An Angel
Sleeping Sun (one of my favorites!!)
I may have forgotten a few songs. The show was way too short - only an hour and a half. But for a band used to selling out arenas in Europe, playing to a club that wasn't quite full was probably a strange experience. Maybe someday I'll get to see them in Finland!
But wow, this was such a great experience and truly one of the top 5 concerts I've ever been to. I'd totally see them again. And again.