Concert Review: Nightwish, Sabaton + Delain at the Palladium in Worcester, MA
Reviewed by: B. Cross
I knew Nightwish was a big draw, but I’d never seen a show as packed as this one. When we arrived, we were greeted with the longest waiting line I’d ever seen. It snaked around the entire block, then back into the parking lot, where it curled around itself again. I spent most of the time wondering just how in the seven hells everyone was going to fit inside the venue, let alone how long it would take to reach the door. Much to my surprise, we only waited in line for less than an hour. Kudos to the Palladium staff for getting everyone into the building quickly and safely.
The only downside of the long line was that we missed the first two songs from opening act Delain. It’s a good thing the remainder of the symphonic metallers’ set graciously filled that void with some excellent sound, indeed. Charlotte Wessels’ powerful vocals and her bandmates’ crunchy riffs brought on all the power of a headliner despite being the first band on the bill. Unlike most other shows, every single person in the crowd seemed to be a massive fan of all three bands on the tour, and the response to Delain’s set proved no different. Delain excited the crowd with fan favorites like “Army of Dolls” and “April Rain” before taking their leave with “We Are the Others.”
Following that impressive opening was Sabaton. The Swedish power metal heroes mixed up intense anthems like “Soldier of Three Armies” and “Swedish Pagans” with a bit of less serious fare as vocalist Joakim Brodén joked with the crowd in between cuts. Hey, if your songs are about the horrors of war, you need to lighten up every now and then. Sabaton’s considerable skills were in full effect, as their rock-solid musicianship and songwriting made everything seem effortless.
The highlight of their set was something you wouldn’t expect. Brodén noticed a young man in the crowd who had attended their previous show in NYC, and invited him to come up on stage. This was Freddy, a kid who appeared to be maybe eight years old. He ended up playing on stage with Sabaton for their final song, “Metal Crüe,” banging on the cymbals and having a blast. He even got in a bit of a guitar solo when the band let him wail on the fretboard! With the crowd chanting his name as if they were ready to go into battle on his behalf, Freddy will be telling this story to his grandchildren.
And then along came Nightwish, immediately capturing the crowd with their riveting blend of symphonic metal led by Floor Jansen’s enthralling voice. Their latest album Endless Forms Most Beautiful just hit the shelves within the past month, and this was only a few days into the North American tour to support the record. The newer material actually sounded even better live than the studio versions, as the guitars in particular seemed to pack a bit more punch on stage. The opener was of course “Shudder Before the Beautiful,” which also kicks off the album. Other material new and old, such as “Amaranth,” “She Is My Sin,” “Élan” and more showcased Nightwish’s extensive experience in finely-crafted power metal with a strong classical undercurrent. The band spaced out a few slower songs amongst the speedier fare, and a prime example was when we were treated to a solo acoustic performance of “The Islander” by bassist Marco Hietala. The rest of the band joined in halfway through, making the performance all the more impressive. Many songs featured Troy Donockley on uilleann pipes, and having a live performance of that wonderful instrument really raised the bar.
Nightwish kept the energy going with rocking singles like “Nemo” and “I Want My Tears Back.” Hearing Jansen put her own spin on older songs that featured the band’s previous vocalists was a delight, as she naturally did not copy her predecessors’ vastly different singing styles. Jansen even had a solo showcase of her own with “Sleeping Sun,” a true classic. I could go on and on about how great her voice is, but I’ll make it easier on you: just go out and buy anything Jansen sings on, and you won’t be disappointed. Nightwish closed out their set with the first half of “The Greatest Show on Earth” before retaking the stage for an excellent encore performance featuring “Ghost Love Score” and, appropriately, “Last Ride of the Day.”
Nightwish remains a tour de force in both studio and live settings, as this show made clearly evident. The sold-out Palladium was almost literally packed to the rafters, as both the floor and the balcony section were full to bursting; a testament to Nightwish’s enduring legacy. It’s certainly not a show to be missed, long lines be damned!
Check out the remaining Nightwish tour dates here.