From a very early age I have been in love with music. That love grew and materialized in an ongoing affair for the past 40 years. In that time I have listened to and appreciated many different forms of music from the historical bombastic excess of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow to the cool ingenious improvised jazz lines of Charlie Parker to the raw energy of Irish bluesman Rory Gallagher back to the incredible arrangements of bands like Queen and Jethro Tull. I have loved all of it.
On some rare occasions I have been present when the stars have aligned and great musicians have managed to transport me to another place. A pure place far removed from politics, money and petty squabbles. A place of pure magic. I can count those times on one hand and have fingers to spare. They have all been live performances and they will remain with me for the rest of my life.
Music is a rare mathematical combination of notes and rhythm mixed with the intangible qualities of soul. It is the closest thing we have to real magic.
Sadly, music like anything noble and good has been defiled by corporate greed and packaged into the lowest common denominator equivalence of belly button lint for the ear. Most performing artists cannot perform live. Some of the biggest names in the industry lip sync. You know who they are- they’re the same ones that tend to have plenty to say about politics and want you to think the way they do. It’s sad. There are still great talents in the world who are now faced with a stark choice to conform to this mediocre music product industry or to forge their own path outside the mainstream.
Money or music?
Most choose money and the masses lap it up – because they’ve been conditioned to accept the repackaged regurgitated pap as cool. Suffice to say I don’t listen to much of it.
But real music still moves me in ways that other forms of art cannot. It just gets harder and harder to find.
Some time ago a younger friend of mine recommended a band to me. I wasn’t particularly well at the time and did not even bother to have a listen. I wish that I had because maybe just maybe listening to them at that time of my life may have been the circuit breaker that I desperately needed. They are that good.
I’m talking about the Finnish symphonic rock band Nightwish.
They are simply incredible.
I stumbled across them by chance about a month ago.
The song that did it for me was a live performance in 2013 at Waaken. It was called ghost love score
The arrangement is superb and the musicianship of the very highest standard but it is the vocals from Floor Jansen that left me speechless and choking back sobs.
I have heard some great vocalists. I have seen some of them live but nobody in my experience has ever managed such a complete performance in the space of 10 minutes. She has everything – range, power, dynamics and most importantly soul.
The band’s performance unlocked doors and memories that I had long closed and forgotten. Way back in the 80s I can now remember thinking that the ultimate direction for intelligent hard rock was to use some of the groundwork laid down by Jethro Tull and the early Rainbow albums in particular as a platform and to start looking for operatic style singing to complement the sound.
It was one thing to think it, quite another to bring it to life.
Nightwish have done it and they’ve done it in such a way to make it accessible. You can tell that by the amount of young teenage girls in the audience. This style of music is not usually an attractive option for young girls, but the combination of Jansens voice,the theatrical performance and the incredible dynamics make it so.
By the end of the song I had tears streaming down my face. I don’t know why. I think it was because I was witnessing something magical – something where a group of mere mortals had dared to touch the sun and in doing so and had become transformed into Gods. Or maybe it was simply an acknowledgement of just how incredible Floor Jansen’s voice is. In the last minute of the song Jansen hits notes that I haven’t heard before. It is the highlight of the song and I have since found out that fans call it a floorgasm.
My response to the song is not unusual. There are literally hundreds of video responses on YouTube to this song and in many instances the viewers are moved to tears. Inevitably they asked two questions.
Who is she? and why haven’t I heard of this band before?
She’s Floor Jansen. They’re Nightwish and we haven’t heard of them before because they’re too damn good they don’t fit into the box.
They can’t be packaged and they have remained true to their art.
If you haven’t heard them give them a listen. They’re worth it
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