December is always a busy time in the music industry. Take out the race for Christmas number one and you'll find the world and his wife are all touring the UK (and Europe) at the same time. Night after night small venues, concert halls and arenas are jostling for the gig going public’s valuable pound. Will you see that big band at the arena, the popular band at the Academy venue or the smaller band in the room above the pub down the end of your street? Wherever you look at this time of year there is a gig going on!
Tonight in Birmingham alone there are a multitude of gigs for us to choose from, but ultimately there was only ever going to be one winner. We head to Arena Birmingham on the regenerated canal side in the city centre for the biggest show in town Finnish symphonic metal ensemble Nightwish.
With the arena filling up fast the only support band of the night take to the stage, fellow Finnish beat combo Beast in Black. Formed just three years ago by former members of Battle Beast the band have risen to prominence quickly, indeed their first ever show was in support of Nightwish; a debut show some bands could only wish for. Three years on however the band are more established, a tighter nit entity and can put on a show of much greater magnitude.
Opening with their self-titled number, the band set out their stall quickly. Differing in style from their label mates, tonight’s headliners, Beast in Black are out and out power metal snarling guitars with powerful, high range vocals. Yannis’ singing style steers the band through their 45 minute set, leather trench coat flowing in the breeze and he stomps around the stage. The Nightwish fans seem to be lapping up this support act, as cheers go up for a standing ovation and the band leave the stage with smiles as wide as their faces. New fans won on this evening.
Nightwish headline this string of arena dates off the back of the a stunning festival closing performance at Bloodstock this summer. As the sounds from the Uilleann pipes of Troy Donockley gently flutter around the packed arena the remaining members of the band take to the stage, Floor Jansen cuts a striking figure front and centre in her female warrior outfit as the focus turns to her.
The band open the set with Dark Chest of Wonders, Wish I Had An Angel and 10th Man Down. Pyro and thick fog filling the venue and creating an atmospheric feeling that ripples to the back of the room. Huge video screens behind the band portray the imagery of their music throughout the set.
The symphonic metallers set is driven by their music talent, technical meandering riffs from the guitars and the magical story telling ability of the keyboards keep you enthralled throughout the bands set. However it’s the bands vocalist Jansen who takes the audiences focus, lyrical mastery delivered so powerfully it grips the listener. Jansen teases and plays with the fans throughout, along with her band mates providing and aural and visual show like no other during this enthralling evening.