The 4 songs Nightwish have only performed live once

(Image credit: Tim Tronckoe)

You can’t talk about symphonic metal without mentioning Nightwish. Not long after forming in the mid-1990s, Tuomas Holopainen’s majestic mavens became the measuring stick for the genre. They scored regular chart success in their native Finland while at the same time earning critical acclaim, thanks to their unencumbered, all-instruments-blaring vision.

Nightwish have written upwards of 100 songs since they started, and most of them have serenaded fans during their litany of live shows in that time. Hammer’s already listed the tracks that these maximalists have never once performed, but an even more exclusive club is that of the ones they brought out once then immediately scrapped. Below are the four songs Nightwish have only played live on a solitary occasion, according to setlist database

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Moondance (Oceanborn, 1998)

Nightwish’s debut, 1997’s Angels Fall First, was written and recorded with the intention of it being a demo, not a fully fledged studio album. As a result, it’s far more raw, rough and ready than anything else the Finns have ever unfurled. Followup Oceanborn swiftly chartered them down more grandiose avenues, and the instrumental Moondance is indicative of the more heroic sound the band craved: keyboardist Tuomas busts out a bombastic melody as his fellow musicians gallop along.

However, maybe because it would leave Nightwish’s vocalist with nothing to do for a bit, this segue’s only ever made the set once. It was at Club Feeniks in Turku, Finland, on February 13, 1999, performed as part of a broader instrumental suite towards the end of the night.

Sleepwalker (2000)

Oceanborn marked Nightwish’s commercial coming out party. Its lead single, Sacrament Of Wilderness, was the band’s first song to top the Finnish charts, then the album’s cover of Walking In The Air repeated that feat in 1999. Because of such success, the maestros decided to battle for a spot at the 2000 Eurovision Song Contest, hoping to represent their home nation with a newly written piece, Sleepwalker.

Sleepwalker won the public vote when Nightwish made their case on national TV to stand for Finland, but the scores of a judging panel brought them down to third place overall. The bid was disappointingly dashed, meaning that the sole performance of this song was to those stuffy judges in Helsinki on February 12, 2000.

Meadows Of Heaven (Dark Passion Play, 2007)

Nightwish brought the tour for 2007’s Dark Passion Play to an end in poetic fashion. Meadows Of Heaven is the final song on album six (the first to feature Anette Olzen behind the mic), and it ends 75 minutes of cinematic metal in appropriately operatic form. Its live debut was saved for the very last show the band played before retreating into the writing room to dream up Imaginaerum, aptly closing the main set.

Nightwish didn’t return to the stage until 2012, by which point they had 75 more minutes and 13 more songs in their arsenal. Unsurprisingly, then, Meadows Of Heaven became a one-and-done, but it served its role beautifully the one time it did rear its head.

Pan (Human :||: Nature, 2020)

Like many, many other metal bands, Nightwish saw the pandemic through by replacing the touring they should have done for 2020’s Human :||: Nature with a livestream. Actually, strike that: they hosted two. The band played a two-night set, dubbed An Evening With Nightwish In A Virtual World, which marked the debut of numerous songs from the preceding album, including Shoemaker, Tribal and Noise.

The only one that didn’t make it onto real-life stages was Pan. It’s a shame, as not only does the song continue Nightwish’s overblown ways unabated, but it flaunts some pretty gnarly riffs to boot. Sadly, though, the fact remains: this anthem was dispatched following its livestream debut. And, given that Nightwish are currently gearing up to release Human :||: Nature’s successor, it’s unlikely it’ll get its time in the sun.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.