Thought this would be another nice one for you to read. Translation below link!
Nightwish in the tender embrace of mother Russia
"Nightwish forever, Mariah Carey go home!"
Nightwish, which has climbed its way to the selected group of the most popular metal bands in the world, ends its successful world tour with concerts in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. What did Russia have to offer this time? At least dangerous mosh pits, fanatic fans, big bottles of vodka, worn-out instruments, speedy rides on taxis, pirated products of many sorts, lazy Tupolevs and much more.
There’s clearly a good atmosphere in the Nightwish camp. The exhausting Summer of Innocence tour is only missing two final shows.
- Even though we take these performances extremely seriously you can tell that people are more relaxed than usual. We have a hard summer behind us, singer Tarja Turunen smiles at Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
The flight to Saint Petersburg takes a measly hour. One can see the deteriorated nuclear power plant of Sosnovyi Bor from the window as the plane lands. The city mutilated by a great ideology shows its face right at the airport.
The landing strip is bumpy, houses are surprisingly run-down and the station building has a strong odor of makhorka.
This makes the Finntroll / Sethian-vocalist and Nightwish roadie Tapio Wilska, who has visited Russian often, laugh.
- A familiar smell, there’s no mistaking it, this is the great and mighty Soviet Union, the great Russia gave birth to thee, he says adapting the Soviet Union hymn.
Getting the band equipment to Russia was a complicated operation. When arriving to the country one has to fill all kinds of forms which can be used as proof that the items haven’t for example been sold when leaving the country. The paperwork at the airport would’ve been a lot harder, if not impossible, without Russian promoter Konstantin Byleev.
- The last time I had four guitars with me and the people at customs didn’t believe that I actually needed them all. We talked it over and over until manager Ewo Rytkönen gave the customs officer a copy of Over The Hills And Far Away-single and then there was no problem, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen laughs.
With Byleev in the lead things go smoothly. Fans have appeared at the airport, they give drummer Jukka Nevalainen some vodka and to keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen a giant “string of pearls”, the pearls being blond cookies.
- When in Rome.., so let’s take some shots, Nevalainen suggests on the way to the sold-out venue. No one objects and even Tarja tastes the local thirst quencher with a wince. The bottle’s drip lock however causes problems, because when poured slowly, barely anything gets through. Bassist Marco Hietala grabs the bottle, tilts it quickly vertically against his lips and the drink flows out nicely.
- Amateurs whine, but pro-men have plenty to drink, Hietala interprets the situation.
FEELING OF SOUTH-AMERICA
As the roadies work hard at the venues hall Tarja tells backstage about an interview she did at Goth festival M'era Luna.
- A fine moment! Two reporter men came backstage; one of them was wearing only a pair of leather strings. It was quite hard to answer with a straight face, when I was about to burst into laughter the whole time.
- The show in M'era Luna was awesome, we were the headliners. It was dark, 25 000 people were there and the bombs went off… Another show with pyrotechnics in Raumanmeren juhannus on the other hand was probably the worst show of the summer. Yö played too long and we weren’t able to start before 2 am. We had to also shorten our set by fifteen minutes. But if it’s anyhow up to me, the next tour will have a lot more bombs, Tuomas ponders.
Nevalainen returns huffing from his exploration of the stage.
- The bassdrums don’t match and the stand may be from the 60’s. Well, doesn’t matter, I’ll manage with these. The backup bass drum is also a fun one. I almost burst out laughing when they brought to the side of the stage. It’s probably been with some Russian dance band’s Siberian tour. It’s a bit worn out.
- Despite the little things I’m still surprised how well things work here. Before Nightwish’s first Russian shows I was convinced it’s going to be like being in Siberia. But no, things work well here, Tuomas points out.
- Security works too. I have my own bodyguard who even sits in front of my hotel room keeping watch all night, Tarja smiles and nods towards a gentleman who looks a bit like Vladimir Putin.
Because of soundcheck opening the doors is delayed by fifteen minutes and Konstantin grows a bit nervous. He keeps asking Rytkönen if they could let people in already and Ewo goes to rush the band. Byleev is right; you don’t want to mess with almost 4000 Russian enjoying their Friday night. For example Impaled Nazarene has experienced this first hand when local fans came through the wall during the band’s soundcheck.
The doors opening at the hall in Saint Petersburg is quite a sight since apparently everyone who bought a ticket wants be in the first row.
Nightwish starts their set at 9 pm sharp. The screaming is downright astounding as Bless The Child begins the 90-minute show. The undisputed highlights of the show are the calmer Sleeping Sun and Walking In The Air and the heavier Slaying The Dreamer and Wishmaster. The show ends with Over The Hills And Far Away loaned from Gary Moore. The roaring Russians demand more for a long time after that.
- They were loud, like being in South-America that was. They sounded like 6000 people at least! And when I looked at the moshpit I couldn’t help thinking that someone will die soon, Tuomas shakes his head. In South-America things are actually even a bit wilder.
- Outside the venue in Mexico City they had a Nightwish market. They had like twenty stands selling nothing but pirated Nightwish products. We even had to play an extra show there when the organizers feared that people without a ticket would cause trouble, Holopainen tells.
- The sellers of pirated products wouldn’t give their products for us as souvenirs. We would’ve had to offer something like drumsticks in return, Tarja adds.
Nightwish got to know metal fans in New York and Atlanta too in September.
- Both shows in America were sold out. In New York people sang along to songs from Century Child even though the album hasn’t been released there. I really didn’t expect to have any fanbase there, so the shows were happy surprises, Holopainen thinks.
- People from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and even the Czech Republic came to the show in New York. And Tavastia’s Juhani Merimaa was there too! He was in the city by chance and saw an ad for the show in a newspaper, Tarja smiles.
The circumstances in a venue in Brooklyn left something to be desired.
- The temperature was about 13 degrees backstage. And maybe sixty onstage, Turunen says.
- Us and the warmup act were given two cheese pizzas as dinner. In total. We got ten bottles of water and ten beers and that was it, Tuomas recalls.
- There was no toilet backstage. We should’ve gone through the audience and stood in line for thirty minutes. The guys peed in the sink but I didn’t stoop that low. I might have peed my pants during the show… Oh right, Stratovarius’ Jens Johansson lives in Manhattan and came to see us. He managed to steal two cases of Budweiser from the bar. The next morning he send a text message “what the hell, there are two empty cases of Budweiser on the floor, did I steal them”, Tarja laughs.
- But Jens is the man! He played Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train with us although we never practiced with him. Not even in soundcheck. I just adjusted the sound right and he began to play. And he seemed to really dig Nightwish, Holopainen thinks.
INTO THE NIGHT AND ONTO THE COMPANY’S SLICKS
An after party for Nightwish has been organized in a bar “protected” by a motorcycle club in Saint Petersburg but despite the wild expectations the place turns out to be boring. Some of the group leaves to head elsewhere as some retreat to the hotel to sleep.
- Into the night and onto the company’s slicks! Meaning let’s go, Rytkönen thinks. The saying is “Ewo-slang”, understanding it is often responsibility of the listener.
Byleev leads the group to a place “protected” by a local mob and the atmosphere is quite different in comparison. The hardiest partiers stay in the gloomy restaurant until 5 am. In other words the morning is quite dismal for the more keen barflies after only a few hours of sleep.
- Life sucks, but it's free, Rytkönen turns the situation into words.
Airplanes don’t wait for anyone though, not even in Russia. A small domestic flight lies ahead and for some reason many start to think about the wildest stories of local airlines.
- This one plane had goats on the aisle and no seatbelt for the passengers. No standing places at least, for humans that is. You could of course smoke freely. The best thing was though, when the pilot showed up to sell drinks once the flight altitude was reached. Oh and the body of the airport bus was made of wood, for real, Wilska tells.
- Oh Tarja, why are you so pale! Have some red wine to get some color back to your face, Emppu comforts.
Nevalainen buys a grand bottle of vodka and a water bottle from the airport’s tax free shop.
- Jukka didn’t disappoint again, he always gets a huge bottle like that, Vuorinen laughs.
The drummer winces after taking a sip of the water. Apparently you are actually better off drinking vodka or at least beer in Russia if you want to stay healthy, the man agonizes.
- Yeah, that is surely bottled water, straight from the river Neva, Wilska knows.
The flight from Saint Petersburg to Moscow goes surprisingly smoothly although the Tupolev rises lazily from the bumpy track. The old airplane can’t clearly handle sudden movements. The only bad feeling comes from the completely careless treatment Nightwish’s instruments are getting. Vuorinen and Holopainen climbed aboard the plane’s stairway just conveniently to see how boxes of keyboards and guitars are thrown in a nice arc to the plane’s luggage hold.
- They must not understand the English text "handle with care" on the boxes, Emppu shakes his head.
- Well, the equipment get to fly in the actual meaning of the word. The bad side is of course that the equipment is worth tens of thousands of euros, Tuomas worries.
Turunen receives letters from Nightwish fans on Moscow airport. Some of the scribblings are sturdy stuff.
Constantine from Moscow writes: “Tarja — You are angel, it is real, I know it! Tuomas —You are genius! Jukka, Emppu, Marco — You are the best! Also, hi to Sami". The message distantly resembling English from Innava is left a little unclear: "Dear Nightwish! On September 27, it will be remembered on long, as day of the present pleasure and full happiness. You can present, what was created in soul when you have left on a stage? I do not present from myself a hysterical nature, however in this case there was it. I hope, that you have remained are pleased with reception of Russian fans. We tried to hold a distance but can sometimes lost the control, but it only impulses of a soul... We with impatience shall expext your following arrival tio Russia! My God, when it will be?"
Nightwish has performed in Moscow’s culture club Gorbunova before. The band likes the theatrical place even though the last show in Gorbunova ended slightly unpleasantly. Nevalainen went to thank the eager audience after the set but he made the mistake of putting his hand too far into the audience. Security had to work hard to pull the drummer out from amidst the compression. Jukka got a gaping wound on his leg which was harshly cleaned with pure vodka.
- I put my hand into the audience too and believe it or not someone managed to slip a black ring on my left ring finger. So I’ve kind of gotten promptly married in Russia, Holopainen smiles.
Tarja and Tuomas head to the hotel from the airport as the rest of the band and roadies head for the venue. Jukka and Marco soon get tired of waiting and they leave for the Ukraine hotel.
- This driver isn’t too shy. Going about 110 kilometers an hour, Nevalainen points out as the car races on the roads of Moscow.
The bassist and drummer enter the magnificent hotel’s huge lobby as tens of Nightwish fans are present. The keen fans nestle against the musicians to for example take photos and security follows the events slightly worried. In the end Nevalainen and Hietala make it to their hotel rooms to get a few hours of sleep and then it’s already time for soundcheck. It goes routinely and Konstantin doesn’t have worry this time, because the doors are opened right on time. The backstage of Gorbunova starts to fill up too. The place is crammed with Finnish diplomats and Russian friends of Nightwish.
- They are again selling nice pirated products in the lobby. They are for example offering a taped live show by Children of Bodom with bonuses from other Spinefarm bands. And there was also a recording of Slayer performing at Montreux Jazz Festival for six euros, Rytkönen presents his haul. The show in Gorbunova ends Nightwish rampant tour with the Century Child album. The band puts in everything it has got and the viewers in Moscow get to enjoy one of the best shows the Finnish band has ever done. Nightwish usually returns to the stage only once but to honor the last gig the band surprises by playing Beauty Of The Beast as a second encore.
After the show it’s time for familiar ceremonies. Rytkönen, who holds the title of “bartender” amongst all others, mixes White Russians and the musicians’ backs get sore from tens of taps on the shoulders.
The Russian promoter wants to also take the band out to eat to celebrate the successful show. Tuomas and Emppu are dead tired and go to sleep at the hotel. Marco and Jukka leave to catch some z's after dinner and some pitchers of drink, so Tarja is the last one up. This hasn’t surely happened in a while…
FALLING FALSE LASHES
Finnair’s flight to Helsinki doesn’t leave until eight pm the following night and Byleev wants to take the band – surprisingly – out to eat in the afternoon. The upscale buffet type restaurant has many chows to choose from, but at least in the eyes of a Finn some of the meats seem a little iffy. Vegetarian Nevalainen looks especially nauseated in front of the pots.
- These foods won’t fill you up even if I eat like a small bird! One and a half times my body weight in a day, Wilska sneers.
Eating lasts long, but one thing is a must: visiting the Red Square! There are many merchants on the outskirts of the market and handsome furry caps are bought for a couple of euros.
Nevalainen also buys a sizeable spear from a shop nearby because “I already have swords but no spears”!
Finally the Finnish group heads for the airport. The transport is done with two cars and people who left in the first car miss seeing Mariah Carey arriving in a huge limo. Nightwish fans notice the American star and star chanting the slogan "Nightwish forever, Mariah Carey go home" quite loudly. Tarja starts to laugh.
No major difficulties arise at the airport. Customs officers are dubious about Jukka’s spear but Ewo gives them Nightwish-condoms. And oops, the spear is on its way to cargo hold! Articles in a Finnish newspaper cause some smiles on the airplane. In the story “Metal makes millions” Tarot, established in the early 80’s and having released six studio albums, may be in the wrong place under the headline “promising upcomers”. The funnies story however is “Janina’s hard gig” which tells about Janina Frostell’s performance in Lappeenranta. Sentences like “during the first few songs the audience is at its most observant until some move over to the bar counter and about ten couples stay dancing“ are quite amusing. There are after all actually successful albeit less attractive performers in Finland who never get three pages from a tabloid newspaper. Like Tarot. Another funny comment comes from Janina herself when she analyzes her own performance: “It feels like my makeup doesn’t stay on. Like last weekend my fake eyelashes fell in the middle of a show so this time I didn’t wear them at all.”
- Should I invest just a little bit more on myself? If we’d too be popular then, Turunen ponders.