This year, after an unprecedented excitement about the line-up, Byblos International Festival’s announcement, that Nightwish will indeed be hitting the stage on July 4, came only to ascertain the rumors that left the entire metal fan base in Lebanon on its nerves for nearly two weeks.
The event was preceded by a press conference, which various webzines, journals and television channels were invited to attend, including Lebmetal. Nightwish keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, Bassist Marco Hietala, and Ex-After Forever vocalist Floor Jansen who is currently touring with the band were all ready to answer our questions.
On their coming to Lebanon and whether or not they were enjoying their stay, Marco commented that they came to Lebanon, open to a new experience, not knowing what to expect. “We were told that many great artists already performed in Lebanon such as the Scorpions, Slash…so I thought ‘oh! That’s nice! Let’s go then’. We certainly did not expect this though!” As for Floor, she expressed how she liked the weather and how she “LOVED!” the Lebanese food. “You have such a beautiful country. Great weather! We are so happy to be here. You have been so nice to us and you are such a hospitable people! Thank you.”.
When asked about their search for a new vocalist and whether or not Floor will become the new vocalist for the band, Tuomas replied that they are all trying not to think about the subject. He added that the band will be taking a few months break after the imaginaerum tour, before going back to the studio and start rehearsing for the next album. “We all have side projects to work on”, he added, “Floor is recording with Re-Vamp for example”.
Floor was asked how Re-Vamp is managing to work on the upcoming album, with her touring with Nightwish. She answered that work on the upcoming album with Re-Vamp was going well. “We (Re-Vamp) had 80% of the writing sessions completed. When I went back home after touring the US with Nightwish, we continued working on writing the album. It should be released sometime in August.”
In another question directed to her, Floor was asked whether or not she was concerned or nervous about touring with Nightwish and performing the old songs. “The time gap between Nightwish asking me to go on tour with them and me appearing on stage with them for the first time was matter of a few days” she said. She also added that she did not have the time to be nervous or concerned although she was aware of the risk. “After all, all you want is to get the appreciation of the fans, you want to feel welcome and happy”, she concluded.
As the conference went on, the questions shifted towards the Imaginaerum movie that Nightwish had released. Marco explained that the movie won’t be released in all countries but is already available on DVD and Blueray and can be bought online. When asked about the inspiration behind the movie the feedback they received, Tuomas explained how the movie was inspired by mere ambition to just create new ways of storytelling and do something new. “The Finnish media simply trashed us! Those jealous of our success as a music band saw an opportunity to crash us in Finland. In Spite of that the feedback from fans all around the world was very positive”. As for the characters in the movie and their names, Tuomas explained that the main character, suffering from dementia, does not represent him and that it is merely a fictional story, not an autobiography. “As a matter of fact, I had very little to do with the screenplay” he said. He also added: “I didn’t think it was a good idea for the characters to carry our names, but it is a movie by Nightwish so we chose to adopt names that are similar to ours”.
The final question was about the song “Bye Bye Beautiful” which was released shortly after former vocalist Tarja Turunen left the band in 2005, and which lyrics carry an explicit message to her, especially in the verse “You chose the long road but we’ll be waiting”, Tuomas admitted that the song was indeed directed to Tarja but won’t necessarily come true in future.
The band’s setlist consisted in a total of 14 songs that varied between old songs from Tarja’s Era and new songs from the Imaginaerum album, all perfectly performed by Floor Jansen who has combined both vocal styles of Tarja Turunen and Annette Olzon (who left the band in 2012) and proved to have a better stage presence.
Another year when the Byblos International Festival’s committee continues to be the most innovative among all others, by bringing artists which satisfy the ear buds of all music lovers, no matter the genre. However, this year, the festival’s committee out ruled itself by bringing, for the first time, an international band, as big and famous as Nightwish, something that metal fans in Lebanon described as a dream come true.
Opinions from the LebMetal.com staff
—- Rami Rouhana —-
Opening for Nightwish was Anuryzm a band which I personally liked, reviewed their album for and interviewed. Anuryzm released a very good album (Worm’s Eye View) with lots of positive reviews and their performance live was really good. The only weakness was Nadeem Bibby’s voice; he didn’t seem comfortable while singing and it seemed as if he was unable to properly perform (did you hurt your vocal chords the day before Nadeem?)
Nightwish was a band we dreamed of having in Lebanon mainly because they are a major metal band in the Symphonic Metal genre, which rarely do visit our Land (Moonspell in Zouk Mikael was also sort of a miracle), but hey, it happened! Nightwish came to Byblos, had a great show along good music, made us dance, made us shout, made some cry and we totally enjoyed it! On a side note, Floor has to be the official next singer in the band as she can easily sing both Tarja and Annette material and she even seems to have stronger stage presence.
—- Patrick Saad —-
If you asked me 8 years ago if Nightwish would be having dinner at Pepe Abed next to the Byblos Old Port, I would slap you silly and wake you from your dream. This town which I grew up in has become an destination for iconic international music bands and artists ever since Byblos International Festival opened up to the idea that Rock and Metal bands have a solid fanbase here in Lebanon.
Whether you’re their biggest fan or a music fan who was drawn by the hype and the promise of a good show, Nightwish were not going to let you down, and they didn’t – not after they were so happy and surprised with their short stay in Lebanon, not after they called it ‘a dream-full story‘. With 90 minutes of classic Nightwish hits like Nemo, I Wish I Had An Angel and Last Of The Wilds, we had a blast singing along the choruses we love, dancing to the Folk melodies and headbanging to the heavy riffs!