I think I'll just chronologically go through stuff that happened on that Monday because aside from the actual gig which only took two hours there are loads of other memorable details included in this adventure of mine.
National Express coach departs from Newport ten minutes late, which sucks because I've been waiting at the bust stop for 20 minutes and it's cold regardless of all the layers I'm wearing. From about seven or eight in the evening I've been watching the first season of Homeland and drinking gallons of black tea to keep myself awake. At 01:00 I even did a short yoga exercise and showered. My brain is practically screaming at me to go to sleep. Three uncomfortable but warm hours of dozing on and off follow as the coach makes its way towards London.
The coach arrives at Victoria Station exactly on time. I am terrified of stepping out of the sleepy warmth of the bus to the chilly English morning, but for all I know there might already be a dozen people lined up in front of the concert hall. No pain, no gain is the spirit and out we go. I'm shaking like a leaf as I make my way down to the underground station. The couple of hours before sunrise are looking less and less appealing by the minute.
There are only four people sitting on the steps in front of the legendary Brixton Academy. This makes me internally jump up and down excitedly. Externally I act like a sleepwalker and without so much as a friendly nod I sit down, grab a book from my backpack and attempt to read until I realise I am way beyond the point of being able to concentrate on anything that isn't Nightwish or sleeping. After sitting for a while and observing a bunch of people queuing in front of a gym on the other side of the street the cold starts to get to me - and the others - which results us all wandering up and down the stairs. Some more people appear closer to eight o'clock, and finally I find it in me to start a conversation, which proves to be one of the best decisions of the day.
In general, I'm not too keen on socialising with other Nightwish fans because quite frankly most of them seem to be self-satisfied douchebags. Or so I've thought until this point. It appears that most of the British Nightwish fans are in fact really enjoyable company. So enjoyable that the following eight or so hours just fly past. We get coffee from the nearby Costa, somebody plays a pipe, we sing, I have brief conversations about art, fanfiction, languages and food. A sassy gay friend appears more or less in time with the sun, and infinite innuendo ensues. The sun is so warm that all of us dumbfounded strip down some layers. This is supposed to be November in England but I've donned my coat, gloves and one of the cardigans I was wearing. It's all very lovely.
And no one, no one wants to analyse the recent change in the band. Thank you. Thank you.
My beetroot houmous is shortly named Tubby Custard, the nearby Poundland is emptied of O2 sim cards because we all need to be in the priority line and brief sightings of Troy, Tuomas and Floor are reported throughout the day. And puns involving the size of Troy's pipes never stop.
|My Tubby Custard was of a bit lighter colour but you get the idea.|
The nice and relaxed atmosphere dies out when a security guard tells us to form a proper line. Suddenly there are at least ten people ahead of me that most certainly shouldn't be there. I want to punch all of them in the face but that would most likely get me kicked off the queue once and for all. Being about 5 feet tall is extremely agonising in a very tight crowd - such as this and I'm at the brink of panic for a while. The combined effect of sleep deprivation, excitation, frustration and being crammed tightly between tall people for the following two hours brings tears in my eyes but then I think the reward in the end and get myself together. For this band I'm prepared to go through worse.
People relax again slightly but time is now dragging so slowly that waiting feels almost unbearable. One good thing about having been awake for about 33 hours is that I'm way too exhausted to be bothered about anything. As soon as I'm rid of the claustrophobic panic and the tightening herd is keeping me warm there's nothing to do but wait and wait because eventually they will let us in.
Once again it was all worth it because I am in the front row right where I should be with my two beloved friends and there are nice people around us. Compared to the usual ice arenas and outdoor stages as concert environments Brixton Academy is absolutely gorgeous inside. Details that I also appreciate are that both the stage and the security fence are a little lower than usually.
The supporting band, PAIN starts. The show is great even if the audience seems a bit frozen. I guess that's why it's called 'warming up'. I have to admit feeling the sleepless night creeping onto me.
As soon as Pain has left the stage with a loud round of applause and cheers, the Nightwish crew starts getting ready for the night's spectacle. Now it is time to add some more lipstick and draw hearts on our palms with a black marker - a habit that we've kept since 2008. Only 30 odd minutes now. Compared to the waiting of solid 12 hours outside the building it seems like nothing but in reality these are the longest minutes of the day.
The intro begins and if I was tired before there's not a trace of it now. My pulse is gradually accelerating and the epic tune of Hans Zimmer's make the chills run down my spine.
The first note of Storytime hits and then we are all jumping and flailing and screaming. I have this weird cramp in my right wrist which is making my ring finger bend against my palm but that's nothing to slow me down.
Here, have the setlist:
Roll Tide by Hans Zimmer
Dark Chest of Wonders
Wish I Had An Angel
Slow, Love, Slow
I Want My Tears Back
Last Of The Wilds
Over The Hills And Far Away
Ghost Love Score
Last Ride Of The Day
A few (or more) points of interest from the gig:
1. Floor Jansen is one motherfucking badass awesome woman. I mean, that voice, that face, that body, that energy. Hot damn. She is absolutely perfect on the stage, and the way in which she was genuinely awestruck and touched by all the love she received from the fans was just adorable. I couldn't think of a better singer to do the job. She quite simply robbed my heart during the first two seconds of the concert and the rest I spent swooning.
2. Ghost Love Score was fucking amazing that's all I can say. See for yourself.
Do you hear how people just lose it when they hear the first notes? Not gonna lie, I honestly screamed my head off upon recognising what was to come. I think I would have cried if the band hadn't looked so utterly cheerful all the time. Dammit guys, let me have my emo moment! Did have something in my throat in the end though.
Props for the incredible individual who actually help their arm up the entire 10 minutes to film this.
3. Tuomas my precious darling, first I thought you were either really happy or really drunk but after some consideration I have reached the conclusion that you were both, and heavily so. Seriously though, the entire summer I thought that everything was perfect and whatnot, but now I see that he is distinctly more relaxed and just happy. From what I've gathered in the Internet everybody agrees that Tuomas has never looked happier than now. He's also taking more eye contact with
|(c) Timo Isoaho|
4. The Islander was magical. I loved how the audience just swayed from side to side as one, and how everybody sang the beginning of the song really softly following Marco's lead and then the last chorus more forcefully. Ahh, so beautiful.
5. In the summer, I was kind of hoping they would swap Over The Hills... with something else because it's kind of used. Now though, it worked like a charm and I'm not complaining.
6. My most amusing love affair with Emppu deserves mentioning, obviously. It took him a little while to warm up this time but soon it was all winks and smirks again. This is the kind, the only kind of flirting I enjoy. Ha. Also, a moment of insanity for us when he asked: "Are you from Finland?" in Finnish (read it from his lips obviously cos you cannot hear a thing through the blast and screams and choirs), and once we yelled yeeeeaahhh, thumbs up with the widest grin.
Still, I wasn't able to catch any of his plecks.
But just to be cheesy, I'll only say that I'd much rather catch his smiles anyway.
|Emppu swag. Photo stolen from Tumblr.|
All good things come to an end but at least Nightwish always finishes with Last Ride Of The Day. I am totally speechless after the concert. It was so completely mindblowingly amazing that I can't come up with anything to say. So, I just giggle and grin like a maniac. Fortunately there are backdoors to head to so the adventure isn't quite over yet.
After freezing our asses off in the nightly breeze and watching the PAIN musicians running back and forth, we are finally rewarded with Tuomas materialising through the door with Jukka. Since everybody else is apparently too astounded by the dashing presence of the maestro I slip through the buzzing fan mass and rob the first hug while breathlessly repeating 'kiitos' which is 'thank you' in Finnish, and consequently the only thing that I am able to get out of my mouth just now. Apparently my hero is facing a similar problem with vocabulary as I, and this conversation shall be written in my personal Nightwish history as the most intelligent one.