Live Review: Nightwish + Arch Enemy + Amorphis
22nd December 2015, 16:09
Posted by Chris

Here it is folks – the perfect metal trifecta at the end of the year in one of Europe’s most celebrated venues. To say this was a big show for these three bands would be an understatement, but Nightwish’s final show of 2015 and one-off UK date proved to be an absolute spectacle and lived up amongst the massive Wembley performances of other bands past. Just how did they accomplish that?

19th December 2015
SSE Arena Wembley
London, UK
Support Bands: Amorphis, Arch Enemy


The first band up in the mega show are Finnish gothic metallers Amorphis, taking the opportunity to premiere their new epic ‘Under the Red Cloud‘ to UK audiences, and what better stage to do that on than a Wembley one?

Clearly every band on the billing tonight is of keen interest to the audience as fans flood through the number of doors leading to the floor, and as the striking red backdrop of Amorphis rises so do thousands of horns.

Fans really make themselves known when the lights dim and the opening notes of ‘Death of a King‘ start to creep around the venue, and the band emerge to the heavy riffing and tribal drumming of the track.

Amorphis have never played on such a large stage in the UK, but they take the opportunity to own it by pumping out hard-hitters such as ‘Sacrifice‘ and ‘Bad Blood‘. The dark sounds of atmospheric keys matched with the slugging guitar work are surprisingly suited for the Wembley acoustics, and by the time the classic ‘House of Sleep‘ echoed out the venue was close to full with more than a few nods of approval in place.

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Arch Enemy

Arch Enemy are yet another band that could easily headline large venues around the world. Their unique style of neo-classical Gothenburg death metal has put them at the top of their game in their 20 years of existence, but tonight they happily play the support role boasting a new all-star line up to the band and a new album to showcase in the form of ‘War Eternal‘.

The stage is set draped in striking banners and flags with the Arch Enemy graphics and the ‘Khaos Overture‘ rings out before a nova of energy is released in the form of ‘Yesterday is Dead and Gone‘. New frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz has spent the last year filling the big boots of the iconic Angela Gossow, and by the time the classic ‘Ravenous‘ starts up its more than evident that White-Gluz is worthy to front this band.

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Her razor-sharp death growling syncs with the speedy riffing and only compliments the mix of twin-leads of legendary axemen Jeff Loomis and Michael Amott. Tracks like ‘You Will Know My Name‘ and ‘As The Pages Burn‘ are standout in the regard of perfect musical execution combined with huge stage energy.

While Arch Enemy play a genre that didn’t necessarily fit the billing tonight, it took them no time at all to fit right in to the line-up. With fans chanting along to the hooks of the final ‘Nemesis‘, along with the more atmospheric music tonight, it has been shown that death metal is most welcome into Wembley in any capacity. Who better to hold the flag for the genre than the mighty Arch Enemy?

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There is no question that Nightwish have established themselves to be one of the biggest metal bands in the world. They sell out large venues worldwide, they are billed as headliners in some of the world’s largest festival and they have sold millions of records, with their latest opus ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful‘ topping charts around Europe and the world. It doesn’t seem that anything would be missing from Nightwish’s repertoire, but there are still some firsts to accomplish for the band.

Playing Wembley is one of those dreams that so many musicians aspire to given the legendary bands that have hit the arena such as Muse, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and so many more. To play Wembley as a headliner underlines an extraordinary amount of success in one’s career, and not only are Nightwish headlining tonight, they have sold out the venue. The first Finnish band to headline Wembley and the first symphonic metal band to sell out the venue, it’s all a precursor for a massive Nightwish show to come…

The band waste no time in kicking off their spectacle with the curtain dropping and pyro flaring to the sound of ‘Shudder Before The Beautiful‘, and fill the arena with every joule of energy the band have to offer. The pure magic of this band instantly resonates when frontwoman Floor Jansen enters with her diverse vocal prowess, and the excitable noise of the Wembley audience exponentially rises.

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Nightwish showcase their newer material along with explosive pyro and an emotionally charged lightshow in the first half of their extended set, including tracks such as ‘Storytime‘ and ‘Yours Is An Empty Hope‘ with multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley testing the resolve of the Wembley PA firing his pipes through ‘Elán‘. While the set is phenomenal throughout, it’s the second half that creates the special atmosphere as Nightwish fire the artillery to live up to the grandiose occasion.

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The second half of the set included the progressive Nightwish monsters that have defined their career in terms of sound and musicianship, and seeing them live is what made the evening so special. Each musician easing through the delicate notes of two of my favourite Nightwish tracks, ‘The Poet and the Pendulum‘ and ‘Ghost Love Score‘ was quite the spectacle. 

Floor Jansen has really proven to be quite the asset in the band now as she touches every track with her diverse vocal touch bringing every track in the discography some new life, including a surprise rendition of ‘Stargazers‘ that has long been omitted from the setlist.

I have seen Nightwish a countless number of times over the last 15 years, with different line-ups, different venues and setlists, and it is an easy admission that I have not quite seen them like this before tonight. The final epic of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth‘ ironically called an epitome for the performance, and to see Richard Dawkins emerge out on stage to speak the final lines of the track was a monumental end to the show. 

This is a band that has totally dominated the occasion both musically and visually. They have written history – long can we look back and say ‘Do you remember that Nightwish show at Wembley?’.

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Click here to view our full gallery from the show!