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Nightwish – Imaginaerum-Komplettpaket: Konzert, Film, Soundtrack & Wein / The Complete Imaginaerum: Concert, Movie, Soundtrack & Wine

Stadt / City Helsinki 
Land / Country FIN 
Web nightwish.com
Hartwall Areena 
Datum / Date10.11.2012 
Bildergalerie / Picturegalerie Nightwish12 
Photos: Tina Solda 

Nightwish are no strangers to megalomania, and the scope has been getting steadily bigger with each album. As film music has always been a major influence on Tuomas Holopainen´s songwriting and the band´s videos have often been small movies in themselves, the making of a full-length Nightwish movie was only a question of time. The world premiere of Imaginaerum was staged at Finland´s biggest hockey hall, Hartwall Areena, and preceded by a live show.

The venue is best known to Nightwish fans as the setting of the End Of An Era DVD concert seven years ago, after which original singer Tarja Turunen was spectacularly fired. Now the next era has come to an end: Tarja´s successor, Anette Olzon, was just a month ago replaced in the midst of the US tour. With less drama around it for sure, but surprisingly all the same. Her stand-in, however, turned out to be a gift to all of us who had long hoped for the return of a "heavier" Nightwish: Dutch metal queen Floor Jansen.

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
From the first bars of "Storytime" (following Marco Hietala´s introductory solo piece "Taikatalvi"), it was clear that this woman knows her job. I never even liked this song, and "Amaranth", which followed shortly after, I had always found equally annoying. But performed by Floor, all of a sudden even these two pop tunes sounded great, which rendered the rest of the material nothing short of epic. The Turunen era songs in particular were finally done justice again, but also songs that had been showcases of Anette´s qualities - which as such were undeniable, only very different in style - such as "Scaretale" and "Slow, Love, Slow" sounded awesome in Floor´s rendition. It was not just her voice, though, but her entire stage presence. Even Tarja had always been more of a singer than a performer and Anette had more often than not seemed a bit out of place on a rock stage, but Floor commanded that stage in a way that almost dwarfed the rest of the band - and not just in terms of sheer physical size.

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
The singer was not the only spectacular aspect of the show, however. In addition to Nightwish´s trademark pyrotechnics, a group of fire jugglers took over the stage during "Arabesque" which as far as I know was played live for the first time at this gig. Piper Troy Donockley has been with the band for the entire tour, but this time also Pekka Kuusisto, arguably Finland´s best-known contemporary violinist, joined for "I Want My Tears Back" and "Last Of The Wilds". If there was a weak point in the set, it was "Song Of Myself" - the album´s spoken word part was left out and its words instead appeared in writing on the backdrop screen, but still it isn´t one of Tuomas´ best compositions and felt rather boring compared to the rest - but the following "Ghost Love Score" more than made up for it. Damn, I had almost forgotten what a stunningly beautiful song this is. Thanks, Floor, for the reminder.

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
After the pyro-soaked grande finale of "Last Ride Of The Day", the hall was emptied for a break, and while we enjoyed some drinks, chairs were put in place for the presentation of the movie. Before it started, Marco Hietala (in lieu of his ever-too-shy bandmate Tuomas) and director Stobe Harju gave a little introductory speech, telling about the production process and thanking everyone involved. Additional thanks from Stobe went out to his wife, who had just given birth - in time for Father´s Day, which happened to be on this weekend in Finland. My congratulations to the whole family, and I´m sure the director will be a much better father than the main character of his movie.

The movie
This character is Thomas Whitman, an aged composer whose entire life was overshadowed by childhood tragedy. Hospitalized after a series of strokes, his mind is tormented by memories of the past mingled with allegoric visions while at the same time clouded by dementia towards the outside world and the only two people that are left to him. The underlying themes of family relations, love, loneliness and facing the end of life are universal and a more experienced screenwriter might have given more depth to the plot than realized here, but Imaginaerum certainly goes beyond being just an extended music video to accompany the album of the same title - which I had feared upon reading the first official statements about the project a couple of years. The band´s role in the movie is quite small - they perform a couple of songs that feature in the old man´s visions/recollections, but only Tuomas has a small (and silent) acting part. I won´t go further into the plot details here, but an interesting aspect to be mentioned is that despite its fantasy elements, the movie actually offers an antithesis to Nightwish´s perennial topic of escapism. And while fans of the band might watch it first and foremostly for the music, the gothic-style visual realization also offers a feast for the eye.

As for the music - in time for the movie premiere, the actual soundtrack has been released on CD. It features no newly-recorded music but doesn´t sound entirely familiar either. In essence, it is a remix of sorts: co-composer/arranger Petri Alanko worked with snippets from the instrumental (and a few vocal, of which "The Crow, The Owl And The Dove" provides the most prominent "song feature" of the score) master tracks of last year´s album, weaving them into a new tapestry adapted to the flow of the movie scenes while retaining relatively few immediately recognizable strands of the original songs. A word of warning therefore - don´t buy this album in hope of new Nightwish songs, because you´ll be disappointed and most likely find this record superfluous and boring. If, on the other hand, you like to listen to movie soundtracks at home, this is a pretty decent one: sufficiently dramatic and freely acknowledging Hans Zimmer´s influence, but not overdone. Since I fall into that latter category, I might in fact end up listening to this one more often than to the actual Imaginaerum album.

More photos in the gallery, link in the header
At Hartwall Areena, I didn´t get close enough to the merch stand to find out whether the new Nightwish slippers were on sale (www.reinokauppa.fi/nightwish/en), but I did have a glass of the new Nightwish wine at the bar. Due to a slight allergy, I rarely touch red wine, but my curiosity won and to my delight this one not only didn´t give me any problems, but actually tasted quite nice - round, warm and fruity. And admittedly classier than the Nightwish beer back in the Wishmaster days. Should the next step up the ladder be a nice single malt whisky, I promise to order my bottle well in advance.

Setlist Nightwish 10.11.2012:
Dark Chest of Wonders
Ever Dream
Slow, Love, Slow
I Want My Tears Back
Last of the Wilds
Planet Hell
Ghost River
Song of Myself
Ghost Love Score
Last Ride of the Day

Imaginaerum - The Score (Nuclear Blast, 53:43)
Find Your Story
Orphanage Airlines
Spying In The Doorway
A Crackling Sphere
Hey Buddy
Deeper Down
Dare To Enter
I Have To Let You Go
Heart Lying Still
From G To E Minor

Nightwish Imaginaerum Wine: www.nightwishwine.com

Tina Solda

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