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I definitely agree with the other guy in regards to the aspects of this recording. In the first place there is nothing to criticize about Annete’s voice since she has (whether on studio or live) a beautiful tone. It is soft, mellow, powerful when needed and she can provide quite emotion through her pipes.
On the other hand there is nothing to criticize about the instrumentalists. Certainly, up to this day I still consider Emppu a terrible guitar player while Marco does not yet reach his potential since the bass lines are too simplistic and do not stand out with textures (even being the music has been enriched through the years) so he is not taking advantage of the big pile of influences Nightwish throw into the mix to enrich the bass performance. Jukka is a regular drummer who does the job. Although I like his style he is not technical whatsoever. He is there to play for fun and no other reason. Not that it is a bad thing but the music can be played by any other beginner and you wouldn’t notice the difference. Without a question Thuomas is the best musician here since he carries the largest part of Nightwish’s music alive on his shoulders but that is out of discussion.
Moving to the set list it is quite bad (as appointed by the other guy) they don’t play (or included) some other songs. In the DVD documentary you can see glimpses of ‘Wishmaster’ sung by Annete, so why not including it here? I mean, what we all want, apart from see Annete’s capabilities live, is to see her singing the old songs. This is not to be mean and comparing her to Tarja since her styles are completely different but those songs are part of Nightwish history. Take Helloween for example, certainly I am bored to see Eagle Fly Free, Sr. Stein, etc being sung over and over by Andi Deris when I rarely have seen in a live album songs from Better than Raw but at least they include them, even I want out, so Nightwish foolishly didn’t included anthemic songs like Wishmaster, Kingslayer, The Siren, Deep Silence Complete, Faraoh Sails to Orion, etc. so that definitely takes away a big pile of points.
This seems to be just an album (EP whatever) made in a rush or by the actual contract with the record label, which makes then sense when it is said Nightwish has sold their soul to the devil (markets and money alright). A decent product would’ve have included a good, carefully chosen set list and not this joke for the fans. I say this, especially because Dark Passion Play brought a lot of new fans to the table and since it was a success there should’ve been a well designed and prepared package, even with videos with Tarja, so the fans can become interested in the entire career. Maybe I am too picky, but I love the band so I tend to expect good things from them, even though I know bands produce bad things, they just happen.
The DVD is even worst, apart from the 3 video clips which can be compared to even Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stephanie or any other idiotic punk-iesh radio friendly girl there is nothing interesting whatsoever. I mean, seeing the guys playing ONE and getting drunk is not exactly my idea of a fun DVD to watch. It is pure stupid shit. The other problem I see (which happens with Epica too) is that if they are trying to reach bigger markets, how can they be so stupid to speak, comment, etc in their native language which is not common to all countries in the world. I mean, use English which is pretty much standard even for Spanish countries like the one I am from.
Some aspects of the songs played live are cool since you get some glimpses of the current performance but not including at least one song entirely is just another flaw.
One more thing and this is perhaps really stupid, but it is laughable and really naïve when Thuomas says that everything he does is for the fans and that sometimes the burden of the band is too much but when he recalls what the band ‘’mean’’ to too many people he believes he must continue. Of course Thoumas, when you are at the top of the mountain you must thank everyone. Let’s see if you say the same once the band see its decline and band struggles begin to affect the members and fame and money get in the way. Not to mention the record company press and press because they only thing they care is: money. No more than that my friend so don’t be naïve and don’t try to insult the intellect of the people. This is the DVD you are going to watch with nonsense crap that is not worthy at all.
I bought it and I enjoy for the sole purpose of listening to Annete live and the obvious good songs from DPP and the video clip for ‘The Islander’, but that is it. The rest is utter shit and no worth of your money. Too bad, they could’ve taken a good opportunity to put out a good package.
Made In Hong Kong was released during the tour break in early 2009 while Nightwish rested up to finish their Dark Passion Tour. It therefore represents the end of the portion of the tour where songs from the new album dominated the set, as London Academy saw the band adding Ghost Love Score and Romanticide, among others, to their setlist. Naturally a live CD released at this time couldn't feature very many songs with Anette singing songs written for Tarja, but the fact that Made In Hong Kong features none at all harms its selling power considerably. In fact, I have never heard of a band following an album with a live CD composed entirely of songs from said album (except in the case of Wintersun, but since they had only one album at the time it is a different case; it was marketed as a special version of the debut). Songs like Ever Dream and Wishmaster had already been played many times (including in Hong Kong, I happen to know) and would have made this EP a lot more worth your money if included. They are already floating around on bootlegs on the internet. In fact, remakes of a couple of songs wouldn't have gone amiss either. Although this may be a deliberate decision to make the inevitable live album that will precede the next studio effort more convincing, it still seems like a missed opportunity, and makes Nightwish seem very much like a band who aren't aware or don't care what their fans want out of an EP. As Metal fans, we want to hear re-imagined songs, new shit, we are basically very demanding and can't be fooled by a CD with nothing new on it.
So that is the major problem with the EP. As for the tracks themselves, the production is of a slightly less engaging quality than End Of An Era, with a less clear, articulate sound than that release had. Everyone in the band is doing their job properly, and Anette's vocals are not re-dubbed. If you didn't like her on DPP, she isn't going to change your mind here, but for my money she put in a great, energetic performance both times I have seen her with Nightwish and the same is true here. Marco's vocal performance is as adept as ever, adding plenty of extra support to Anette and generally sounding as composed and dominating as he does on every song, album and concert he is involved with.
You will notice that so far my comments have focussed on the two singers. That is because this is not an album you will be buying to hear how your favourite instrumentalists tear it up live, or get mashed to some impromptu jamming. For that you need Bloodbath's Wacken concert and then one of Dream Theater's numerous concert recordings. The rest of Nightwish competently recreate what has already been heard on DPP, while orchestral sections are basically played back as they were on the CD. I know from experience that this is still pretty exciting when you are actually there, but on record it is too easy to be reminded that you are listening to a recording of a pre-recorded orchestra being reproduced along to live music...if you follow. The Islander and Last Of The Wilds provide a little more interest, featuring guest musician Troy Donockley, a veteran of the uillean pipes. Other than these two tracks, there is little to be had from the live songs you don't already probably have on DPP.
There are two tracks which make the CD worth your time however. If you don't already own a CDS with these songs on, or for some reason don't know how to use iTunes, then you might want to get this for The Escapist and While Your Lips Are Still Red. The first is a fantasy-themed Power Metal race through brilliant melodies and memorable vocal lines that tops anything on DPP for energy and romanticism, and provides a fitting sequel to tracks like Dark Chest Of Wonders and Stargazer. The second is While Your Lips Are Still Red, and it is Nightwish's best ballad since Two For Tragedy. There is no overbearing orchestra, and no female vocals either. It is sung softly and sincerely by Marco, with simple piano arrangements by Tuomas. Both are amongst Nightwish's best B-Sides, beaten only by White Night Fantasy. The last track is a demo of Cadence Of Her Last Breath, and is hardly essential or interesting. Filler.
The DVD may provide you with a reason to buy if you are particularly interested in the personal lives of the band while on tour, or if you want to see Marco playing Uno and getting battered. Documentaries like these have always seemed self-indulgent to me, and the band having the chance to "address" issues like Anette's sudden departure from the stage in Brazil is a little too convenient for my liking.
This is not a necessary purchase for pretty much anyone other than completionists. Unless you already own End Of An Era there is no reason for you to think about buying this, as that features two discs worth of their entire career with Tarja and is a historical moment in itself; next to that, this is pretty irrelevant. As someone who has enjoyed the "new era" Nightwish, I still can't justify a very high mark here, as the two best tracks can be obtained elsewhere, cheaper. I'm giving it above a 50 as at least the diversity of the CD/DVD set means that most Nightwish fans will find something they can enjoy here, even if the audio content isn't quite what it could have been.