Evolution of female-fronted Finnish band...
With one concert DVD already behind them Finnish sensations Nightwish chose to produce something slightly different for this DVD. Essentially a resume of their career so far, it consists mainly of documentary style footage of interviews with band members, backstage footage shot by the band on handheld cameras, supplemented by live footage from two concerts, two videos not present on the initial DVD (though surprisingly not the recent ‘Bless The Child’ video), a photo gallery and supplementary interview odds and ends.
One might initially ask ‘Why this style of DVD’, but as the story progresses, it becomes clear that the presentation achieves two clear aims. The first is to inform the new fan and to tell comprehensively the story of the evolution of the band from one student’s acoustic project into one of the biggest female fronted prog-metal bands in the world with a fanatical following in parts of South America and Europe. The second is to explain the story behind some of the tensions that arose within the band as they went quickly from performing National Service to becoming rock stars, touring the world while simultaneously putting to rest once and for all the stories about the band breaking up.
As band leader and main composer Tuomas Holpainen reveals during the course of the interviews, the band did in fact break up as he left the band in late 2001, rather than fire bassist and long standing friend Sami Vänskä. Fortunately for us, all was resolved after a week spent hiking in the countryside with his friend Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica, resulting in Sami being replaced by the chain smoking, beer swilling Marco Hietala.
The interviews are mainly with Tuomas and drummer Jukka Nevalainen, though there are contributions from other band members, their friend and sometime roadie Wilska as well as technicians and tour management while vocalist Tarja Turunen is often present but rarely speaks. It should also be said that the interviews are conducted in Finnish, but fortunately subtitles are available in English. Tuomas and Jukka are very honest about their experiences recording and touring with the band and about the inevitable pressures and demands that follow with success. Once one sees the tiny town of Kitee from which it all started, it is not surprising that after a couple of months on the road, these small town boys enjoy nothing more than returning to the simple life from where they started and retreating into the peace and quiet of the Finnish countryside.
The ‘on the road’ footage is of variable quality and reveals that these guys behave just as one might expect for persons their age and in their positions, but the drinking, nudity and bad behaviour is kept to a minimum and we see far more of the mundane side of life on the road - moving from town to town, preparing for shows and performing. The video of their performances in Korea and in South America is particularly striking, with the audience both cases being frighteningly enthusiastic about the band’s music, while the perils of life on the road in Russia and Poland is confined to the ease with which good quality vodka is available.
The video extras include extracts from two shows. The first was recorded at Rockerfellers in Oslo, Norway and features just 5 tracks while the second includes 6 tracks recorded at the ‘Summer Breeze’ Festival in Germany in the summer of 2002. Both are nice extras but the inclusion of ‘Sleeping Sun’ and ‘Slaying The Dreamer’ in both sets is perhaps a little strange, though the presence of a cover of WASP’s ‘Wildchild’ is a nice bonus. For the two further videos, we get the very professional filmed ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and the slightly more chaotic ‘End Of All Hope’.
The first of these has been available elsewhere, though I have to admit to being unaware of the existence of the second.
The Limited Edition version of the DVD comes in Digipack format (at least the German edition I have does), with a small poster and postcard, but no booklet. There is also a nice 40 min live CD, featuring the set performed at the Summer Breeze Festival, though yet again, (one can only presume for quality reasons), we do not get the full set. I haven’t been able to track down the actual setlist played at the Festival, but the set sounds plain weird to these ears with no ‘Bless The Child’ to open and with ‘Over The Hills’ bang in the middle. So, while it is another ‘nice to have’ it is far from essential.
Unless you are a complete fanatic about the band, I’d suggest sticking with the normal edition in the standard DVD case - far more durable and easier to store.
To resume, one has to say that this is definitely a package for the keen fan. For a start, one has to be keen enough to sit through two hours of interviews reading subtitles; if one is looking for a Nightwish concert performance, one might be better off purchasing their ‘From Wishes To Eternity’ DVD rather than this one. However for the keen fan that must have everything issued by the band there is plenty of interest here in the interview footage and the live material is a very representative of the band as it now stands, post the Century Child album.
Review by Charlie Farrell