Kerrang! (UK) - - Lives -

Epic metal roy­alty bring arena-slay­ing alchemy to the cap­i­tal

■ It’s been three years since Nightwish last head­lined Wem­b­ley. It’s the same venue and the same band, but the at­mos­phere tonight is dif­fer­ent. Back then, there was a feel­ing of near-dis­be­lief that this most grandiose of rock bands could have so com­pre­hen­sively cap­tured the pop­u­lar vote on th­ese shores. That show, im­mor­talised on 2016’s Ve­hi­cle Of Spirit DVD, was only the start. Now, th­ese stars of sym­phonic, cine­matic metal rarely play any­thing more in­ti­mate than are­nas. Tonight, Eng­land ex­pects – and Nightwish truly de­liver, with a set that’s as much a pro­duc­tion as it is a gig.

Be­fore the ex­plo­sions, both emo­tional and py­rotech­ni­cal, Beast In Black of­fer an un­ortho­dox con­fec­tion of in­tri­cate gui­tars, cheesy key­boards and ozone-eat­ing vo­cals. The Finns cer­tainly have some an­thems, but their more syrupy stuff has an odi­ous air of Euro­vi­sion about it.

In con­trast, af­ter the head­lin­ers’ long in­tro teases to the point of mad­ness, there’s a cathar­tic ex­pul­sion of joy as Nightwish smash into opener Dark Chest Of Won­ders. They’re ac­com­pa­nied by flash­bombs, fire­works and, fi­nally, the re­li­ably con­trolled soar and re­lease of Floor Jansen’s in­cred­i­ble voice. The re­sult is sim­ply as­tound­ing.

The set list is a two-hour ret­ro­spec­tive, in­clud­ing some rare one-off songs from the vault that they’ll never play again, like El­ven­path from their 1997 An­gels Fall First de­but. Mean­while, Slay­ing The Dreamer jud­ders with power, Nemo ca­resses with feel­ing, and the multi-part The Great­est Show On Earth re­mains one of the finest rock ex­trav­a­gan­zas you’ll ever see.

Tonight is ac­tu­ally the happy res­o­lu­tion of a story so loaded with dif­fi­culty it was some­times tough to read. Through sheer mas­tery of their art, peer­less mu­si­cian­ship and top stage­craft, Nightwish have be­come one of metal’s big­gest bands. It’s hard to think of any­one who de­serve it more. STEVE BEEBEE

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