Having wanted to see the Finish metal titans live for more than 12 years, my expectations were high - and not only did they not disappoint, they were far better than I could have imagined.
Supporting Nightwish at their Arena Birmingham show last night were fellow Finnish rockers Beast In Black, who formed just three years ago.
Fronted by Greek singer/songwriter Yannis Papadopoulos, this up-and-coming power metal band gave a superb performance, with excellent stage presence and a thrilling, heavy sound mixed with electro beats.
Yannis boasts incredibly unique vocals, ranging from deep, growl-like tones, to supremely high notes which, alongside the powerful sounds of the skilled Anton Kabanen on lead guitar and the wildly energetic Atte Palokangas on drums, make this superb new band one to watch.
Following a short interval it was time for the main attraction to grace the stage, but not before an announcement came over the speakers urging fans to turn off their phones and ‘say no to that digital demon’.
And though Nightwish played a solid set of two hours, I could have continued to watch them for double that time at least.
The band is most commonly described as ‘symphonic metal’, but their music actually crosses far more genres, blending folk with heavy rock and opera to create a truly distinctive sound unlike that of any other group, and the result is nothing short of breath-takingly mesmerising.
Each song in their varied set was as powerful as the next, as the six-strong group performed on a stage eerily covered with smoke while flames shot into the air in time with the beat, creating an incredible atmosphere.
Like many Nightwish fans, i found the departure of founding frontwoman Tarja Turunen in 2005 to be a huge disappointment, but her replacement Dutch singer Floor Jansen did a tremendous job; her alto soprano vocals impressing at every turn.
Dressed in a black and gold corset, with thigh-high boots and a cape, she was a commanding figure on stage, encouraging fans to clap and move with the songs, as she herself bounded around, banging her head to the music.
“Hello Birmingham,” beamed Floor.
“It’s been forever since Nightwish was here and it’s the first time I’ve been here with Nightwish.
“We’re going to go on a road trip down memory lane with you - are you ready?”
With the Decades World Tour marking the release of the remastered greatest hits album of the same name, the set included outstanding performances of the band’s best-loved material, including Wish I Had An Angel, Gethsemane, Elvenpath and The Carpenter.
Each of the musicians was outstandingly talented, with Tuomas Holopainen stunning with intricate, often lightning-speed playing on keys, while Emppu Vuorinen impressed with rip-roaring riffs on lead guitar. Troy Donockley, meanwhile, gave stupendous performances on uilleann pipes, flute, and guitar - giving the band their enchanting folk-like feel.
Highlights of the show included a spine-tingling rendition of 2004 hit Nemo and a captivating rendition of The Greatest Show On Earth - both of which displayed Floor’s tremendous vocal abilities.
An absolutely awesome, enthralling show in every sense, which left fans astounded and wanting more.
We can only hope Nightwish will return to the UK again soon.