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Nightwish - 'Vehicle Of Spirit' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/93/e3/f1/Nightwish-Vehicle-Of-Spirit-30-1482004277.jpg Hot

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An essential purchase for Nightwish fans.

"The title 'Vehicle Of Spirit' came from a friend of Troy Donockley's, who after seeing our show a few years ago defined Nightwish as "A vehicle of spirit that defies category". That beautiful description has followed us ever since, and felt like a perfect match as the DVD title" – Tuomas Holopainen.

That rather wonderful description is rather apt, as Nightwish's music transcends a lot of barriers and has thousands upon thousands of fans who listen to their music on a near spiritual level. I happen to be one of them and one only has to witness the emotional outpourings at their concerts to understand how their music touches people. Admittedly, the Tarja Turunen years were the more transcendental and Nightwish suffered for a while after her very public departure until Anette Olzon found her feet and became accepted by the majority. The rather messy second fall-out after Olzon's acrimonious departure didn't help matters and Holopainen refused all questions regarding it. But when Floor Jansen stepped in to complete their 2012 North American tour she was the overwhelming fans choice to become the new permanent singer, and as the 'Showtime, Storytime' release showed, she was more than capable of filling the huge shoes of both previous singers.

Thus we come to this release that documents the eighteen month 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful' world tour which lasted from April 2015 in New York, USA through to October 2016 in Saitama, Japan, and at the same time celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the band. It features three discs – two complete live shows and a compilation of songs filmed live at various concerts on the tour, alongside a short interview with professor Richard Dawkins conducted just before the Wembley show.

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Holopainen wanted to document the two most special shows of the world tour and he chose Wembley due to its recognisability on the world stage and its legendary status. He remembers all the artistes and bands throughout the decades that have played there, many of whom are the band members' heroes, and wanted to be able to say "Good evening Wembley" out loud. He described the twelve thousand sold out crowd as "heart-warming" and the overall experience as a "once-in-a-lifetime thrill ride" – both beautiful and poetic. Thus, on December 19th 2015 Nightwish also became the first Finnish band to ever headline at Wembley Arena and I am very proud and blessed to have been there to witness such an amazing night, completed of course by professor Richard Dawkins walking on stage at the end to narrate his spoken part personally at the end of 'The Greatest Show On Earth'.

The other show was at Ratina Stadion in Tampere on July 31st, 2015. This was a sold-out twenty thousand home crowd speciality for four members of the band and featured the biggest stage production in their history with massive pyrotechnics, raging wind effects and hypnotic video screens aligned to each song. Holopainen described the show as having "a lovely atmosphere throughout with many of the same faces in the front row as there were fifteen years ago".

The Wembley show features seven of the eleven numbers from the album '...Beautiful', Jansen's first, whilst the Tampere show additionally featured the title track. Wembley also includes three from 'Imaginaerum' and Tampere two, and both shows feature two different songs each from 'Dark Passion Play' that covers Olzon's era in the band. That left just four Tarja numbers at Wembley and five in Tampere for Jansen to cover, including 'Stargazers' (from second album 'Oceanborn') which was played on tour for the first time in over a decade; Jansen sings Operatically in a wonderful reference to Tarja. On the bonus disc we see the first ever live (acoustic) rendition of 'Edema Ruh' and 'Sahara', the only number not to feature at either Wembley or Tampere, plus we get to see the wonderful outfits as worn by Jansen and some great T-shirts and even a kilt from Marco Hietala. The quality of the production is outstanding, the camera angles are effective and Jansen looks genuinely elated to be fronting the band, whilst Kai Hahto is also an excellent stand-in for Jukka Nevalainen. An essential purchase for Nightwish fans.

Carl Buxton

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