Today was the day I had been looking forward to the most – the day I would see the final show in Nightwish’s world tour at the epic Hartwall Areena. We would spend much of the day at the venue queuing but decided to take in some sights first.
Helsinki is one of those cities where you can see as many things by just wandering as you can by planning a route so we decided to just randomly wander, although decided to go to the station to investigate tickets to the Pasila station near Hartwall Areena first. We weren’t sure what to do so went to the desks to ask about tickets but were told the tickets were only sold in singles, not return, and were only valid for an hour. This is completely different to the UK where, although the most expensive in Europe, tickets can be bought and used at any time of the day and can also be return tickets. This wouldn’t be as good for us so decided to go away then come back later after looking into tickets more.
The park in the middle of the road leading from the market square (Esplanadi) has free wi-fi so I decided to look online on my phone and found a one-day tourist ticket would be the most convenient for us. We decided to continue randomly wandering the city, taking in some more of the sights and doing some more shopping until we were ready to go to the station.
Back to the ticket desks to get the tourist pas, which they didn’t do. However they did direct us to a kiosk which sold them. We purchased the ticket and got on the train to the Pasila station which only took a few minutes.
We arrived at the venue somewhere between 12 and 1pm and there were already between 100 and 200 people in the queue, some of whom had been camping overnight judging by the comments that had been posted on twitter that morning. We decided this was far enough back so joined the queue.
It was warm enough to start with but when the sun started going behind the entrance to the car park that we were sitting next to it started to get quite cold. However we all managed to entertain ourselves with a mass karaoke session and random nonsense that always happens in a long queue for a Nightwish gig. During this time the security were also nice enough to let us all into the venue to use the toilets, providing that we picked up all of the rubbish that had accumulated throughout the day and night before.
Anna, the third member of the group, arrived an hour or so before doors and was able to join us in the queue – a short time later the queue started compacting up towards the barriers and she wouldn’t have been able to join us.
Security on the doors were quite strict so I’m glad I hid my camera in its usual hiding place as anybody that was found with one was made to join a separate queue to deposit it in the cloakroom which would have meant letting hundreds of people would get past us. On entering the venue there were a lot of fast-food chains to tempt us but, once we managed to work out that we were in the correct queue for the standing section, we decided not to leave it.
After 30 minutes or so the doors to the arena opened and we all rushed in – we think the other side opened first as there were quite a few people in there by the time we were in there but we were able to get around 10 rows from the front. There was no real pushing unlike shows in the UK so once we found a good spot we were able to keep it, give or take natural movement of the crowd.
Apocalyptica were on first and are the only band I’ve ever seen that have cellos as the main instrument instead of guitars. I’ve seen them twice before, including once at a music awards, but it was a good performance today as they had guest vocals on some of the songs instead of just being an instrumental act as normal.
After a tense wait Nightwish came on to a LOT of pyro which was very warm even from 10 rows back. We knew it would be a special evening and indeed it was – they had guest musicians, new songs that had never been played live, pyrotechnics, confetti and an incredibly moving water feature during the final song.
The setlist was:
Finlandia (with Troy Donockley)
7 Days to the Wolves
The Sirenn(with Pekka Kuusisto)
While Your Lips Are Still Red (with Pekka Kuusisto)
The Poet and the Pendulum
Dark Chest of Wonders
The Islander (with Troy Donockley)
Walking in the Air Acoustic (with Troy Donockley)
Last of the Wilds (with Troy Donockley)
Meadows of Heaven (with Troy Donockley)
Ghost Love Score
Wish I Had an Angel
The Heart Asks Pleasure First
Overall I didn’t get as many photos as I do usually at Nightwish gigs as we were a bit further back but this allowed me to get some good videos and to actually experience the concert more with the confetti and general atmosphere.
Much of the talk during the show was in Finnish but a lot of the time Anette talked it was in English as she hasn’t quite mastered Finnish yet. They did make a point of saying see you on the next tour and that all of them would be on the next tour in case anybody was thinking Anette would be fired after the show like Tarja was last time they played the venue. The projection screen showed “see you in 2011” at the end so we have a bit of a wait but at the end of the gig while this was being shown we were in for a surprise – they played an unreleased song that will never be released over the sound system. It’s a song called “The Heart Asks Pleasure First” which is a cover of a song from The Pianist which was refused permission to be released from the original composer which is a shame as it’s a very nice song.
After buying the obligatory t-shirt with all of the shows from this tour on, which we later noticed were incorrect (London isn’t in Belgium for example), we proceeded outside and met up with people we had been separated from before heading back to the train station.
They have a good system in place for post-event trains. There is a walkway directly from the venue to one of the platforms at the Pasila station which just runs shuttle trains backwards and forwards into the city until everybody has been transported. It took a few minutes for the train to fill but only took a few minutes to get into the city, from where we walked slowly back to the hostel for some well-needed sleep.
Here are a few videos from the event:
This event was definitely a dream come true for me. Nightwish have been my favourite band for 7 or 8 years now and I’ve known them for 9 years since long before they even played the UK. I’ve been a fan through the hard times and during the times they built up a fanbase eventually playing 4000 capacity venues in the UK and to see a full show of theirs in something like a 13000 capacity venue in their home city at the end of their world tour. Unless you experience it there’s no way to really describe it. Just it was one of the best nights of my life and I’m glad I went!