Nightwish Edmonton Show Review


Wow this took awhile to get around to doing. This past weekend I had the chance to check off the third of my five favourite european metal bands off my "I must see these bands" list. I was truly surprised to find out that Nightwish was coming to Edmonton to play a sold out show at the Starlite room. I was surprised that they were coming, and I was also surprised that they sold out faster than the other two bands I saw: Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius. Maybe it's the female singer that makes them more attractive to more people. Not sure. Anyways, Diane and I arrived a bit late to the Starlite room, and already an impressive looking line had formed all the way down the block. So there was nothing for us to do except go to the back of the line and wait for about 35-40 minutes to get in. Such is the state of going to the Starlite, since that has been the way of things in the past. On the plus side, the weather was beautiful so waiting in line wasn't a big deal.

While in line the opening band started up. It didn't really look like we were missing anything, and I didn't even bother to find out who was playing. Then again, it's really hard to tell since the volume was turned up so loud. *sigh*. The problem with live concerts.


So Diane and I found our spot on the right side of the venue on the stairs descending to the floor. It was packed in there though, so it took awhile to squirm into a good spot. It took a long time, as usual, for the main band to have all their gear setup and sound tested, but after the long wait Nightwish finally came on stage.

Nightwish has undergone a bit of turmoil in the recent months. They fired their distinctive lead singer after the band decided that they were not on the same page concerning the direction of the band (or something, I'm not really familiar with the situation). This made for some troubling times as the band tried to find someone to replace her. I'm not sure they ever would've found someone with quite as deep and powerful a voice as Tarja, but they did find someone who does a pretty darn good job. The new vocalist didn't sing too many classic Nightwish songs, but the ones that she did do she did pretty well I'd have to say.


Here's the setlist for the night:

  1. Intro + Bye Bye Beautiful

  2. Dark Chest of Wonders

  3. Who ever brings the night

  4. The Siren

  5. Amaranth

  6. Islander

  7. The Poet and the Pendulum

  8. Come Cover Me

  9. While Your Lips are Still Red

  10. Sahara

  11. Nemo

  12. 7 days

  13. Dead to the World

  14. Wish I had an Angel


All in all the show was amazing. The various members of the band are quite good at their respective intruments. The keyboardist isn't as flashy as the one in Stratovarius or Sonata Arctica, but that's okay. One of the guitarist's sported a rather epic beard/hair combination.

It's been a few days since the event, so I don't remember too many details. Also I wanted to get this post up before I forgot about it entirely. I took some video that I'd like to share, but I need to post process it so I can upload it somewhere useful (I was thinking flickr). That might take a little while.


Anyways, it was a pretty good show, and I was quite happy that I got the chance to go!


Eileen Ivers Concert Review

A few months ago, Diane asked me if I wanted to go to a concert with her in April. It was an awfully long time in the future, but I booked it in. Last night was the concert in question, and it turned out we were there to see a fiddler by the name of Eileen Ivers. Now, I'll admit that while I do love the style of music, I haven't been very proactive in finding more of it to listen to. I have a few Leahy CDs, but that's about it. So I was pretty excited to find another collection of quality fiddle music. Eileen has a pretty impressive resume. She has won nine All-Ireland fiddle championships, and she toured with Riverdance starting in 1995. So that's pretty cool. The band she was touring with featured several excellent musicians in their own right. They put on quite a show.

The music they played varied quite a bit with several pieces fusing a few genres. In the last song before the intermission, they played a song called "Gravelwalk" that she described as Celtic fiddling meets the Bronx. Early on, I was surprised that she broke out a wah pedal for her fiddle. I became astonished as she began to make her fiddle sound like a full out distortion guitar. Huh. I mean, I know and like Apocalyptica, which does distortion Cello, but I didn't expect to see it on the violin.

Edit: here's the only video I could find of Eileen playing gravelwalk. It's too bad it's just the distortion part, because it sounds much better in context.

(as a side note, Apocalyptica is getting air time on Sonic 102.9, a local radio station. I think this is fantastic).

The show was wonderful and the only thing missing from the audience clapping and singing (for 2 songs anyways), and foot stomping fun was a couple pints of Guinness.

Thanks sweety for getting us tickets :)


Victor Borge

Last night, Diane and I saw the best fringe show that I think I've ever seen. It was Rainer Hersch's Victor Borge. The show had received a 5 star rating in the Edmonton Journal, and they were totally not kidding. For those who don't know (I was among you before I saw the show), Victor Borge was a famous piano comedian for something like 50 years. His most famous sketch was one where he gives sounds to every punctuation mark which results in a rather humorous reading of a story.

So what happens in the show? Rainer Hersch jumps in and out of the Victor Borge character with ease. He probably spends about half the show as Victor, and half as himself as he talks about Victor's life story and how he rose to fame. The show was incredibly fun to watch. The jokes are hilarious, the acting was superb (I later was talking to my first piano teacher whom I ran into at the show, and she said that Rainer had his Victor impression almost perfect), and I really think that most everyone should enjoy this show.

Unfortunately, I'm sure it is all sold out for all the shows that remain during fringe week. However, if they decide to hold-over this show, or you see Rainer Hersch's name back in Edmonton, you should check him out!


Megan’s First Recital

My sister held her first paid ticket recital today in Rimbey, Alberta for mothers day this year. It was, I think, an unqualified success. Megan was in good form playing through a couple hour set of a variety of different styles of music. We sold 33 tickets at $12 a piece, plus a number of donations -- all of which is money that will be helping finance her upcoming trip to Ireland later this summer. Why was the recital in Rimbey you ask? Well my grandparents moved (back) there a month ago or so and they are really quite good about getting word out about Megan's upcoming gigs. So they helped organize Megan's first ticketed recital. I'm glad that it went well for her! So she was able to play through her pieces to a captive audience. Afterwards we went out to dinner as a family to celebrate mother's day (and the successful recital).

If you're interested in seeing Megan play, she has an upcoming recital in Edmonton sometime soon. I don't have the date just yet, but if you want to know when it is leave me a comment or an email and I'll make sure I get the chance to sell you a ticket!


Spider Man 3

Last night I got the chance to see spider man with Diane and most of her family. I didn't really know what to expect. To be honest, I don't actually know very much about the spiderman series. What I *did* know has already been covered in the first movie. The first two flicks were pretty good though so I was quite willing to go see the third one. All in all, I thought the movie was very good. If you haven't heard, they really crammed a lot of stuff into the show. With 3 different enemies to fight over the course of the movie, the action doesn't really stop - which I suppose is a good thing for this type of movie. It did feel like you were getting a whirlwind tour of spidey's enemies though.

Potential spoilers follow.

There's a couple of complaints I did have though. First, does anyone else think that the Sandman's defeat at the end of the movie seemed a tad random? It seemed like he was able to recover from every hit and bomb and everything that was thrown his way until he inexplicably crumbles after taking a couple more bombs. I don't get it. The second complaint is that for a movie promising to showcase Venom as Spider-man's main nemesis, you really didn't get to see much of him. Venom really existed for a span of about 15 minutes of movie time - and most of that was the final battle sequence. Hmmm.

The movie was very formulaic, though I suppose you can't really fault them for that. It has the typical movie-romance difficulties including Peter Parker being totally stupid with MJ. *sigh*. I really don't like watching that sort of thing go on. I know it's hard to come up with scenarios that don't make the main characters look dumb but still put them into a difficult positions... but why can't you at least try?

So, that's what I thought anyways. It was good, but as expected it wasn't very deep. What'd you think?


Busy Times

Over the past couple of weeks I've been pretty busy. My thesis continues to get a facelift as Darse gives me low level feedback on it. I think my thesis will be a whole lot stronger due to his help. In other news, I should have a confirmed defense date set soon! Admittedly, the prospect is a little nerve wracking, but we'll see what happens with that!

The ultrasound I had returned with "results being normal". I'm not too sure what that means since my stomach still isn't the happiest camper in the world. Oddly enough, it appears the foods that my stomach has the worst time with is milk and cheese. I really hope I'm not lactose intolerant all of a sudden! In general, I'm finding that I can eat most foods with no trouble outside of that category, so life isn't all that unpleasant at the moment. I still very much miss milk and cheese though! My mom convinced me to call my family doctor, someone who I haven't seen in ages, and book an appointment. Surprisingly, I was slotted in on Friday. So we'll see what he has to say about the whole issue.

I saw Stranger than Fiction a few days ago, and was rather surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It is definitely a very different movie than the standard run-of-the-mill ones. Personally, I found the film quite enjoyable so I recommend you take a peek at it. In other flicks I've caught, I saw I Happy Feet with JR, Shelly, Andrew and Leah a week or two ago. It was a pretty fun show all in all, though it got a little weird for a children's film near the end. Oh wells.

Also, Battlestar Galactica continues to impress. That is all.


An Inconvenient Truth

I finally sat down and watched this movie last night ... something I had been meaning to do for awhile, and I found a heck of a lot more compelling than I had thought it would be. To be honest, I didn't know much about Al Gore besides the whole US election in 2000 thing. There's a great deal more in the movie than I had expected, and it is greatly alarming. I think about the future with what is probably a more-than-unhealthy dose of cynicism. I'm scared of the kind of world we're gonna find ourselves in 20-50 years from now, and a movie like this certainly isn't helping me feel safer. What scares me more is how are we going to change the way the world is going? It is easy to feel powerless in a world where there are billions of people who either don't care or don't understand the problems.

I don't really know how true Gore's statements are. A brief survey of posts on the subject though seem to indicate that Gore is relatively accurate in what he says. This is scary ... very scary. If you haven't had a chance to watch the movie yet, please do, and let me know what you think.


New Stabilo Album

This is the first record that I've gotten excited about for a long time. Part of the trouble is that my music library is so vast that I have a hard time giving the songs I already have the listening that they deserve. One of the latest bands that I really latched on to is Stabilo - a band out of Vancouver (if I remember correctly). They had one fairly big hit song called "Everybody" which I really liked. I saw them play in Edmonton at Klondike days, and picked up one of their cds when they were called "Stabilo Boss". I fell in love with their music then, and since then have listened to the two discs I have from them regularly.

I had wondered what happened to them recently since they haven't released a CD in a long time. Thankfully, they're still around and they released a new single recently called "Flawed Design". I got a chance to listen to it today, and it's simply awesome. What I love about Stabilo is they aren't afraid to write a whole bunch of really cool lyrics. The songs have cool rhythms, singable melodies and some harmonics you don't hear a lot in rock music.

All in all, I'm really impressed with the new song and I'm gonna go buy the new cd "Happiness and Disaster" as soon as it hits stores. I think that's on the 4th of April.


Edmonton Sonata Arctica Show Review

Well last night was the Sonata Arctica concert that I've been looking forward to for quite awhile. For those who don't know, Sonata Arctica is a Finnish melodic metal band that took the scene by storm when they released their first full length album. When I first heard some of their music, they almost immediately became part of my musical library. This was the 2nd of two shows that I thought I'd never ever see in Edmonton. The first was Stratovarius in October of 2004. Both of these bands have huge followings over in Europe, but North America hasn't seemed to have discovered how good this genre can be. Oh well, I suppose the radio would probably ruin it anyways. Damn radio.

Anyways. I was pretty pumped for the show. The opening band, going by the name of "Helden" got going around 9:30 or so. This was a band I had not heard of, and probably with reason. They were a pretty new band and while their guitarists showed a lot of promise, I was totally turned away from them because the vocalist did nothing more than scream into the mic. I'm sorry, that's just not appealing to me.

Finally, SA took over the stage, and the wait was totally worth it. Tony, the band's lead vocalist has an absolutely amazing voice ... more so than I thought from the records. I was very impressed with how he was able to sing in a very clear high melodic voice and then switch over to a growly kind of tone that still kept the essence of the melody. Such talent!

The keyboardist was sensational. He had a keytar, which was a very cool way for him to show off how damn fast he could move his fingers! Its just not fair ... some people can play way too darn well. The keyboardist was featured many times on the albums playing dueling solos with the guitarist, and the show was an incredible example of why this should be done way more often. If the keyboardist hands went blazingly fast, the guitarist's fingers had to have gone at least as fast!

Incredible on many levels. The band played one encore of three songs. The first "song" being a medley of a whole lot of big songs that they didn't play during the show. They then went on to play two more crazy fast songs including Don't Say a Word, and then delayed the final chord of the last song as long as was possible.

The best part was how much the band looked like they were enjoying themselves. Particularly Tony who added little fun quirks into some portions of the music. I forgot to mention that Tony was dressed in some crazy plaid pants. Yeah, that's right, plaid pants. Taken aback at first, I couldn't help but think ... cool!

All in all, I was very happy with the show. Tony promised the crowd that they'd be back to Edmonton sometime after their next album. I think I will have to be there!


Holidays go by too fast

I really should be working. But since I'm not, my holidays have been going by far too quickly.Still, its been a good holidays - lots of time with the family, and a couple friends are coming over tomorrow afternoon. Then there's new years and the two year anniversary for Diane and I coming up in short order! Amazingness!

Last night I watched Memoirs of a Geisha ... I don't know what rotten tomatoes has against it - I thought it really was a pretty good movie. Oh well. Maybe I'm just ignorant - I haven't read the book nor do I know anything about Japanese culture. *shrug* - from an ignorant standpoint, I thought it was good :)

Hope everyone is having a good holidays!



Last night Diane and I joined several of my friends to go see the first of the Narnia films. It was amazing ... at least I thought it was really well done. I didn't really like the discovery of the wardrobe sequence - but other than that, I felt that the movie was really quite well done. I really quite enjoyed the Narnia books - and so I was quite excited to hear that they were making movies out of the books. My understanding is they are going to do them all ... which should be pretty cool.

So indeed ... a very good movie in my eyes and a movie to go see if you can!


CS Department Christmas Party and the Singing Christmas Tree

Ahh Christmas ... so much to do, so little time! Saturday was the department Christmas party - and it was a blast as I kind of expected. The food was not spectacular, but the dancing was fun. Diane and I showed off our dancing skillz - though I felt really rusty at most of the dances other than the waltz. Our waltz is our best dance for sure :) The DJ at the party was a little too involved in the dance. At first it was pretty cool - with him playing several instruments along with the music. But after he switched costumes a few times and tried getting people to dance all night, I started to feel a little awkward. Oh wells. I also won the limbo contest, which was kinda fun. I dunno what I do right there - I just seem to know how to do it. Kinda weird :) For a prize, I got a cool see-through digital clock. It sits on my desk now :)

Last night I joined Diane and her mother to go see the singing Christmas tree. For those who haven't gone, its a big tree with tiers for a choir to get setup in it. Its usually pretty good - and while I didn't think it was too bad this year, there was a couple of things that I kind of didn't like. Mostly, I didn't like how the sound was setup. Usually, the capability of a largish choir to sing doesn't need a lot of amplification through the sound system. But using a little is okay too. However, some sort of effect was being applied I think, and the result didn't sound very good to me. The concert also seemed a lot shorter than past years too. *shrug*.

The other thing that I've started thinking over the past few years that I've gone there is that I'm feeling increasingly uncomfortable in a church like the one the tree is in. Its too ... over the top for me. I consider myself to be a Christian - at least in a lot of the ways I think about life and its opportunities. But I just can't feel comfortable in an environment where there's this big speaker setup, with tv monitors lining the aisles and corporate sponsers for the program and the refreshments. I'm fond of the little church my family goes to - its nice, its not near as flashy, and it just feels more comfortable. *shrug* This will probably come up later in another post. For now, I'll leave it at that.

It certainly doesn't look or feel like Christmas outside. All the snow is gone again - and its less that two weeks to Christmas. Weird weird weather. But no matter - I'm starting to look forward to a chance to take a holiday here ... I need some time off I think :)


iTunes and non standard pricing

This is a really interesting article: This guy is claiming that the real reason the record companies want to change pricing at the iTunes music store is because they want to establish 'image' that a higher priced song is 'better'. It makes a lot of sense.

The iTunes music store currently sells all tracks at $0.99 a song. If the record companies get their way, then they would sell more popular tracks for more money. But now what happens? If popular, 'good' tracks sell for $3.00 a song, then what kind of song is a $0.89 song? You or I might might be able to say that it doesn't matter, but the majority of people will automatically go for the higher priced songs because they are what are 'cool', 'popular' and ... 'good'. Now the record companies have another barganing chip in their deals with artists. Don't want to agree with what we want? We'll price your songs lower.

You know, I like music, but at times I wish I didn't like it so much. I really like to support artists I listen to, but when most of the money I pay for their music goes to these damn record companies, it makes me feel kinda ... unclean. Maybe I don't know how everything is from their side of the issue, but really ... when every move they seem to make is an attempt at keeping their wallets padded, I can hardly show feel like they have the best interests of the music artists at heart can I?


Super Mario Bros

Seemed to be a theme this month. First, someone plays a level's worth of super mario brother's theme music plus the sound appropriate sound affects entirely on guitar. Craziness. Then, someone comes up with a super mario brothers opera. Yes, really.

Some people, I tell ya. Crazy!

Still, I can't help but be intrigued. Somehow, mario still holds my interest.


Edmonton Stratovarius Show Review

Boy was I excited. And nervous. Since I found out that Stratovarius was coming to town, I was really wondering what sort of crowd would turn up to a band that is, as far as I know, virtually unknown in town. I was also nervous that the people I had dragged to come see the show (like Diane) wouldn't like it and be forced to endure a few hours of misery.

Thankfully, I really had no reason to worry. Metal fans came out of the woodwork and we had a decent sized crowd - more people than I expected for sure!

Now for my show review.

I arrived at the door around 8:00. The starlite room is a members only club - so some of the people in my group needed memberships. We hung around there and got memberships for them and then entered the place. This was the first time I'd been at the starlite room - it was a pretty neat venue. Pretty small, but my first thoughts were that it was an awesome little venue to see a top notch band like Stratovarius.

The opening band, Into Eternity, started up at 8:45pm sharp. I had not heard anything by them before, and I think its obvious that I would have benefited from doing a little research before hand. I wish people would realize that its not all about making music as loud as possible. Sure, more volume can make things sound really good. But the clarity and balance of all the instruments together that makes for a good listening experience. That is my biggest complaint for the opening band - they seemed extremely talented, but because of the balance issues, I could barely hear the middle range of the vocals. The only notes we heard were when they were growling into their mics or when the lead singer hit some super high notes. I may have to take a listen to some of their music to see if I like them. Unfortunately, the show was not enough to make me buy a cd right then and there.

Finally, Stratovarius made it on stage, and they started in with a great deal of energy. The volume/balance issue did affect them too, but to a lesser extent as more of the Strato songs included quieter ballad songs that took us away from the sheer volume for a few songs. Still, the balance was a major complaint of mine and if I hadn't heard the songs before I think I would've enjoyed the show a little less than I did.

Don't get me wrong - the show was amazing. I find myself wishing that I had more time to spend with my keyboard to try and learn how to play as well as Jens Johannson. For those who don't know, he used to play backup keyboards for Yngwie Malmsteen - often heralded as one of the best speed guitar players. So Jens is a pretty amazing keyboardist since he was able to keep up with Yngwie, and is now playing with Timo Tolkki - who is pretty amazing as well.

They could've kept playing for another hour and half at least and not run out of songs. Stratovarius has a long list of cds they've put out over the years. I think the count is up at 12 cds or something, and almost all the songs on the discs are good enough to be played in a live show like this one. Unfortunately, they couldn't play all night, since they needed to be in Calgary the next day ... They gave us a good selection of music from their repertoire, including some old and some new.

They played two encores - the first ending with Hunting High and Low and the second ending with ... of course ... Black Diamond. There was a startling number of fans who knew the words to many of the songs and that was pretty sweet.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible evening. I'm very happy that they came to town, and at the end of their show they had a slide at the back that said they were coming back in 2007! Woohoo!

Maybe I can drag a few more people to the show this time ;-)


Stratovarius coming to EDMONTON????

Wow. So anyone else who'll be in Edmonton on October 2nd needs to pay attention. Stratovarius is coming to town! For those who don't know, Stratovarius is one of Europe's biggest names in the melodic metal genre - they have something like 11 CDs currently out with a 12th one being released in the near future. The band is apparently deciding to finally try a North American tour - and they are hitting *several* Canadian towns. This is a band that is used to playing huge rock concerts with thousands of people cheering for them on the big stage. So to catch these guys in a city where a lot of people have never even heard of them is pretty crazy. Especially in the small Starlite Room venue!

If you haven't heard of Stratovarius, but like some heavy metal music without the screaming, check them out. If you're interested, you should check out the show - its only $25 a ticket, and there's no telling whether they will be back or not!


Star Wars Episode III

Last night I was able to go see the new star wars movie as part of Nolan's birthday gathering. The critics generally agreed that this movie restored some of the former glory to the star wars franchise. Episode one was terrible, and episode two was better but still not as good as the classics. Now that I have seen the movie I'm not too sure how much I enjoyed it. My overall impression though was that the movie very smoothly made the transition from the end of episode two to the start of episode four. My problem is that this transition was almost too smooth. The movie hits all the points along the way, but there are no surprises along the way. I got the feeling that many of the events in the movie happened "because they had to" rather than for the value of that particular scene.

So while the movie was a nice close to the series, I was overal kind of unimpressed with the movie. Perhaps the problem is that we all know what has to happen to get us to the proper place for episode four... but still, I felt that the movie was missing some excitement that could've been there.

Anyways, that's what I thought.


Collective Soul

The night was Saturday, May 21st. The occasion? To see a band that I have grown to love - Collective Soul. They played at Red's for their second concert in Edmonton in less than 6 months. I missed their first arrival here in December and was kind of annoyed because I had really wanted to see them, so I was really glad when they announced another date in May! The group I went with included Mike, Nolan, and my girlfriend Diane. We had supper at the Old Spaghetti Factory beforehand and then wandered down to Red's where we proceeded to wait for the show. The doors opened at 7:00, but oddly enough the show didn't start until 9:30. So we wandered around for awhile. Mike got some game tokens to play in the arcade with. We played some air hockey, foosball, and table hockey. T'was good fun.

When it got closer to show time, we went to try and find a spot to stand an watch the show. We got lucky and found a spot that we got an excellent view of the band at. The house was packed - the concert had been sold out for a couple of weeks. As usual, the show started late, but finally the opening band The Waking Eyes took the stage and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were. Aside from their known garage-rock style, they brought out a few surprises including a piece where they ditched their conventional guitars and the bassist picked up a stand up bass, the lead guitar sat down at a keyboard and the singer/rhythm guitar took up a trumpet! They proceeded to play a jazzy sounded track with a quite catchy bass-line. Very cool!

Finally though, Collective Soul took the stage. Its been awhile since I was last at a rock concert, but it was probably the most intimate rock show I've been at. All my other concert experiences were at the Shaw conference center or Rexall place - both of which are very large venues. Red's is quite a bit smaller than either of those and as a result created a very nice atmosphere for being up close to the band.

The thing with Collective Soul is that they have a *huge* number of hit songs, and for them to just play all of these songs would take them quite a long time. They played all these songs plus a couple of songs off their new album. It was pretty incredible - hearing the hits like Precious Declaration, Why pt2, Gel, Where the river flows, Heavy, and Shine. The years in the business of touring has obviously made them very good at what they do. The show was very very well put together with a proper buildup to a rocking and loud conclusion to the concert. The encore was three songs long finishing with the song Shine - where everyone in the audience was singing "Oh oh oh oh - heaven let your light shine down". I always like it when bands give the audience a chance to sing :)

All in all, it was an amazing evening. There are many unpleasant aspects to the concert experience ... but the part that matters was amazing. For the others, here's hoping that the no-smoking bylaw gets passed this year like planned!