Thursday, Feb. 25th was a night of Euro symphonic powerhouse metal for the LC Pavilion’s newly dubbed moniker Express Live. The Endless Forms Most Beautiful came to Columbus and delivered with fellow female fronted Delain and power metal veterans Sonata Arctica. The Kitee, Finland natives may have proven third times the charm as former After Forever, ReVamp vocalist Floor Jansen took the helm as the new album, stage songstress, illuminating with her own aura and presence. Exhibiting more similarities to the original voice in vocal delivery and appearance, Jansen brought multi-talented persona’s to the audience from ravenous beauty queen, to intense seductive siren to spell-binding sorceress. At times appearing to bend the light with her hands at will as hair whipped the air in a symphonic wind storm.
The evening began with the ladies of Delain. A history that started with Within Temptation, vocalist Charlotte Wessels and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, brought their symphonic serenades from the Netherlands to Columbus. The band name was chosen and spawned from the mind of Stephen King and The Eyes of The Dragon. With four releases since their 2002 formation, they’re currently promoting the Lunar Prelude EP.
They opened straight out with the new EP “Suckerpunch,” getting the demons and dark spirits out early. Piano keys started the energetic poppy “Get the Devil out of Me.” We visited The Human Contradiction on “Army of Dolls” as society’s sick image of unrealistic anatomical perfection can’t compete with natural, real-life beauty. The gears of “Mother Machine” awoke through the speakers as guitars thrashed down and thumping bass accompanied Wessels voice on the heavier, epic tune with a soft spot, telling the tale of sterile factory life and the vibrant dreams of a girl lost within.
“We are the Others” was dedicated to the memory of Sophie Lancaster, who was viciously attacked with her boyfriend in the UK in 2007 over their ‘gothic appearance.’ Wessel took a moment to recognize a ‘very dedicated’ fan in the front making the Columbus gig his 200th show with Delain. Synthesizer riffs hit the speakers as fan dedicated “Don’t Let Go” drew inspiration from the many faces in the crowd. A final tribute to Lancaster ended the show with “Not Enough.”
Finnish power metaler’s Sonata Arctica came to Columbus bringing 20 years of music with eight albums celebrating the 15th anniversary revisiting of 1999’s debut Ecliptica, starting with Pariah’s Child’s introduction “The Wolves Die Young.” With epic opening guitar notes we revisited “My Land” fighting the good fight for what’s ours with guitar crunch and balladry. The sorrowful piano keys introduced the despaired, desperate tale of man fighting his greatest primal instincts. The guitars galloped like the creatures feet, whether man or beast, the night brings the “Fullmoon.”
Vocalist Tony Kakko in true, (rock star) ballad style took a seat at front and center stage to get the mood going, staring at the full house with a smile, as if to say ‘yeah, I’m sitting down at a rock show, and I’m in the band on stage.’ He moved stage right and sat closer to the people by the wall for a moment. “Sorry guys,” he said smiling down at the struggling photographers in close confines following him.
“Last Drop Falls” hit the heart strings hard and true with ‘80s power ballad melody. A beautiful song played to the words of manipulative betrayal and poisonous love. It could be their homage to the Scorpions enduring the winds of emotional change. “I Have a Right” breathed of emotional broken bonds of father and son. Their “8th Commandment” said though shalt not steal my heart and soul with your lies. The show ended with Reckoning Night’s “Don’t Say a Word,” finishing what they started with lessons learned and proving a keytar stills looks cool on stage.
Nightwish have become a worldwide phenomenon, gaining global acclaim and devotion through grandiose albums of epic storytelling and bombastic music. Creating musical narratives about history, emotions and stories created within the music itself. Some songs not even needing words to place vast landscapes and imagery in the mind’s eye. They came to Columbus with a 16-song arsenal ready to excite and satisfy long term die-hards, fans of different eras and newbies. Not all the favorites and classics were played. “The Islander” wasn’t at the seashore, there was no “Romanticide” committed or “Scaretales” told but they summoned many songs old and new from Oceanborn to the highly Charles Darwin inspired Endless Forms. So everyone went home happy.
The beauty of life and existence began when the lights lowered as the “Roll Tide” intro began. “Shudder before the Beautiful” began. The crowd roared as Jansen made her first gothic appearance. Adorned in glistening black, going from the beauty of life to more serious heavier material with narrowed possessed eyes screaming in the crimson light she sang and bellowed with Marco Hietala, leading all to an unseen end, “Yours is an Empty Hope.” Though Jansen held her own unique bravado amongst the guys she didn’t hesitate to throw down with the hair spins.
Century Child made its sole appearance as cool blue light blanketed the stage with the angelic choir of “Bless the Child.” Wishmaster came and went with forbidden love on “She is my Sin.” Hietala broke out the double bass for a few tunes. We weaved our own worlds deep in the woods of paradise in Celtic tranquility on “My Walden.” Hietala said there’s a lot of weird shit going on in the world right now, taking over the mic. Best to hug and kiss your loved ones “While Your Lips are still Red.”
The world’s video introduction to the Jansen era “Elan” questioned and celebrated the meaning of life for each person taking the road less traveled. The limiting confines of certain religions were chastised on “Weak Fantasy.” Imaginaerum was finally visited for some “Storytime” to Never-Never Land. “7 Days to the Wolves” gave us a piece from Dark Passion Play.
The razor sharp reminiscing riffs of “I want my Tears Back” led keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen to start arguably the most recognizable piano riff of their career and “Nemo” came. They went old-school back to ’98 and the “Stargazers.” The majestic “Ghost Love Score” was revisited followed by the “Last Ride of the Day.”
The night ended with chapters from “The Greatest Show on Earth” as Jansen’s tone went from low bellow to soaring earthly heights sharing the evolution of creation. After a pause, ‘The Toolmaker’ learned to make weapons sharing epic battles of man for earth’s rule and the marvels of invention and technology that followed. When future historians of humankind and music write about this era, they’ll say ‘We were here.’
Images by Mike Ritchie