Live Report - Nightwish/Kamelot gig Aug 31, 2012 in Royal Oak, MI
No label
Melodic Power and Symphonic Metal

Release year: 0
Reviewed by Alex

After not having gone to a concert for nearly six months, last weekend I was back on the road to a show trying to catch up to what Kamelot and Nightwish had been doing lately after seeing Tyr/Moonsorrow/Korpiklaani live it up only a few weeks ago. After appreciating Kamelot from their early days through The Black Halo I have not been on the band's bandwagon for the last couple of albums. I don't even remember the day when I have fallen off the Nightwish wagon (if I ever have been on it). So, mainly it was Kamelot I was after. Also, this time I had an opportunity to take someone to a show, my companion being a young friend of my wife's who is really not into metal with the probable exception of, you guessed it, Nightwish.

Unlike Korpiklaani and Co. who have to toil their wares in the smaller shacky venues like Peabody’s and Blondie’s in Cleveland and Detroit, respectively, Nightwish and Kamelot get to play in more established buildings, like Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, MI. When we got there the doors have not opened yet, and the line was visible from afar, snaking around the building. Thanks to Kamelot tour manager the tics were there for us on will call, so we got in on time, and did not miss the opening act I was really there for. Because in large part it was a Nightwish show, the crowd was nothing I would normally see coming to the shows, featuring totally different demographics. Older, cleaner cut crowd, for some of them it would be the one and only metal show in a long time, the people consumed as much bottled water as they did Heinekens, and I saw nobody out there wasted, puking, with dirty long mottled hair, wearing death metal shirts and ready to start a moshpit. The venue eventually got to be pretty full, with some of the VIP crowd enjoying the show from the balcony, sitting down, very unmetal like.

Kamelot started about an hour after the doors opened, and even if the crowd was there for Nightwish, the Floridians got a very warm and energetic reception. The main question on many Kamelot fans minds is, of course, how capable Tommy Karevik would be in replacing Khan. I still remember the Norwegian towering up in a black trenchcoat, feet on amps, a few years ago at Harpo’s singing March of Mephisto. Karevik cuts a much cleaner figure, dressed in a black shirt and jeans, and for the very first few moments I wasn’t sure how he would fit in, but a pair of fast songs in, like Rule the World and Center of the Universe, I had my doubts removed. To pass full judgment, new album Silverthorn would need to be listened to as it comes out of the studio, but it seems that vocalist is not going to be Kamelot’s weak spot. Thomas Youngblood kept pumping the young Swede up, giving him multiple pats on the back throughout, while also hydrating the crowd throwing bottles of water to people. Bassist Sean Tibbets was entertaining with his dreadlocks and antics, and Karevik fed off the crowd’s energy trying to dial the proverbial “volume knob” to get people to sing along on The Human Stain. The new single Sacrimony seems to contain as much symphonics and drama as the band’s later output, but full judgment before hearing it in the studio version has to be reserved. Mine, and seemingly crowd’s favorites, were Kamelot’s earlier hits, like When the Lights are Down and, especially, fantastic Forever, although it always boggles my mind why the band never gave Edvard Grieg credit for the main melody (it is so obvious that Valkyrja lays at the base of Forever). Kamelot 45 min set ended with, what else, March of Mephisto, where Alyssa White-Gluz from the Canadian melodic death outfit The Agonist played the part of the vixen and Shagrath at the same time. Clad in leather and having died her hair blue, she let out some pretty good shrieks and yelps. The other female singer used in spots throughout the show, Elyze Ryd from Amaranthe, was a little lost in the sound mix.

Not being the main attraction, Kamelot’s sound was a little shrill, especially when it came to solos, and not entirely 3-dimensional. Casey Grillo was pounding a much smaller drum set located to the side of the stage, and Oliver Palotai’s keyboards were mostly heard on intros and interludes, but not in the body of songs. This is said if you are very picky, and in my opinion Kamelot are deserving even of a better treatment than they got, while as I said above, the crowd was fully engaged throughout.

The sound was vastly improved when Nightwish hit the stage, and Tuomas Holopainen keyboards were quite dominant, creating all kinds of drama and cinematic score atmosphere. Nightwish ripped into four or five fast hits at first, and confirmed my feeling as of late that the band needs to diversify along the rhythmic and riff lines to win me back. To me Anette Olzon is no Tarja, but her voice is strong enough and fits with the band’s “big sound” productions. She did Wish I Had an Angel no worse than Tarja would, and the crowd was happy. Marco Hietala, bass and male vocalist, makes for a nice pairing to Anette, and when they went after jazz/lounge music with Slow, Love, Slow, it was obvious that the band enjoys experimentation and stepping outside the genre, just like they enjoy ripping them off with Planet Hell or Last Ride of the Day. My young friend was giddy throughout the show, just like 99.9% of the crowd, the young man just next to us wearing Jewish kippa wide-eyed, jumping and dancing non-stop throughout, being a good representative. Me, I mostly liked Gary Moore’s cover of Over the Hills and Far Away, with excellent rolling drum beats. Also, bringing in Troy Donockley to play Uileann pipes live is an excellent authentic touch by the band.

I know that I am a little short with my Nightwish review, but I see it more as my assignment to have Kamelot covered for you. Nevertheless, the Finns are awesome professional musicians. They work non-stop for an hour and half, and know how to put on a show. I know, for example, that when my sister attended this same very concert a few days later in Denver, Anette fell ill and was rushed to the hospital, yet the show went on with Elyze and Alyssa stepping in.

The thought that wouldn’t leave my head while listening to Nightwish was that the band is extremely important as metal ambassadors and have almost moved into a mainstream with their stature. As I mentioned above, you may not stand heavy metal at all, but give you a little Nightwish, and your heart will warm up to that “isolated” realm of music. I doubt some of the 50yr olds in the crowd that night had any other metal CDs in their collections, yet they were singing to Nightwish lyrics. So, that got me thinking if I need to try and suggest to the managers of a new basketball arena/music concert venue in my little town, on the local University campus, to try and book Nightwish the next time they are through. It would be interesting if they could pack 5,000 people into that building, but then if they could, I would need 10 min to get to the show, while the people from Detroit, Cleveland and Columbus would have to come and visit us, not vice versa.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted
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