The Song Remains The Same, Yet The Name Does Not

Or “The Nokia Theatre Times Square is now The Best Buy Theatre”

You might recall a recent blog posting where I welcomed back to the world of live performance the venerated Rock concert venue Irving Plaza. Of course, the space had never truly gone away per se, but after running under that name for many decades, it’s purchase by Livenation found it restamped as “The Fillmore NY at Irving Plaza”. You had to admit that it was quite a mouthful but that whole tale can be better examined HERE. Now where was I? Oh yes, the discussion about the venue formerly known as the Nokia Theatre in Times Square. Depending on your age and concert visiting habits, you might only have known this space as the Nokia Theatre because its been that way since early 2005 but before it was converted into one of the cooler places to catch a live band it was a movie theater called the Loew’s Astor Plaza. During its time in this manner it hosted up to 1500 movie lovers and boasted to the world how it had the largest single screen in New York. That was pretty cool, and if my memory serves me correctly I had seen a couple of the Star Wars and Star Trek films here before the conversion. Moving on, I loved when this opened up as a concert venue because now it would fit over 2000 people and depending on the concert would often sell out. The venue is owned by AEG Live (a very well-established concert promoter) and it’s title reflecting its advertising sponsorship. The bright corner sign positioned above 44th and Broadway on Times Square could be seen for blocks depending on your direction of approach and often informed the Metal Republic of sad occurrences such as performance cancellations.

nokia theatre times square, nokia theatre times square marquee
The Nokia Theatre as the Bearer of Bad Metal News

I loved how the Nokia Theatre used the marquee for their shows as a number of times they were rather creative. Just take a look at this one for the Arch Enemy tour and found the combined power of Century Media Records, Nuclear Blast Records and Roadrunner Records putting their bands together for the greater sake of the Metal good.

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Nokia's Marquee for Arch Enemy's "Tyrants Of Evil" Tour

I decided for the sake of making this little overview look a little nicer that I would share a number of the shots done. Moving along we see the cool use of colors for the Finnish cellists extraordinaire Apocalyptica. I’ve seen this band a number of times and highty recommend them, but of course this is a venue reflection and not a concert narrative.

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Apocalyptica's "Worlds Collide" Tour Broadcast

Of course the sad news about the Nightwish show that we saw announced a couple of photos above had a bit of a bright side as we see on the long marquee that runs downward on the block. You see, that evenings direct support was Sonata Arctica and based on the cancellation would move up a notch and perform for the Metal legions for free. As I scanned these marquee photos that I was always wondering if I would ever use, I had to laugh when I realized just how many Finnish bands I had seen here. I was amused because Nokia is actually a Finnish company and I am not sure that everyone actually was aware of that.

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Free Metal at the Nokia Theatre with Sonata Arctica

This particular show was an amazing one despite the circumstances and proved to many why Sonata Arctica is so respected as a Melodic Metal band.

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Finnish Power Metal Warriors Stratovarius

Stratovarius’ future was uncertain for awhile, but the message about the pressing forward was clear as they returned to NYC with a blistering new guitarist on board and an album of material that kicked new levels of ass. The venue was also no stranger to straight up American Metal when bands like Black Label Society came a calling. That’s the band with Zakk Wylde on guitar for those living under a rock these days.

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Presenting Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society

We also found the venue hosting a grand return in some sense as lead singer Matt Barlow was back among the ranks of Iced Earth and this was news that many a Metal fan was waiting to hear for years. That was a killer show, and I say that as a casual fan of their work until around 2008.

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Aliens Attack

This terrific gig also found our friends in Into Eternity opening up and that was a great gig for them.

nokia theatre times square, nokia theatre times square marquee
Iced Earth: The Wicked Return

Since the only constant is change in big business, the advertising sponsorship for the Nokia brand is now done and in it’s place moved the electronics giant Best Buy. With this in mind, the venue is now branded as “The Best Buy Theatre”. Take a look at the new marquee.

Welcome To The Best Buy Theatre

I admit that it sounds a little strange when you say it aloud the first time but believe me there are weirder venue names out there that is for sure. With Nokia being a mobile phone manufacturer the venue actually had a number of phones on display for purchase. I wonder what we shall find being made available to patrons under the new branding. This might be a small clue, check it out. On the first day of the new name, the venue was holding a competition for the first person shooter game “Halo: Reach”. The game had apparently just come out and they were using the new space to make an even bigger deal about it. These warriors were guarding the entrance to the venue.

Halo: Reach Statue

These menacing chaps were positioned at the venue’s main entrance and one was in the foyer. Since I didn’t go downstairs to look around I am not sure if there were others. Perhaps I should have asked to look around, but if these kind of things are going to happen more than this single time we will have plenty to enjoy going forward.

Halo: Reach Statue

I have never played “Halo” but it sure looks like a blast if you can pardon the pun. I need to catch up to the Jones’ in the video gaming sense because there are so many music related things coming out that it is worthy of investigation. The down side is that I am the worst player out there on any of this stuff. I guess I need to practice.

Halo: Reach Statue

Musically speaking it seems as though it will be business as usual under the new name and that’s a good thing. As a matter of fact later on tonight was going to be a performance by Linkin Park but I was not attending that particular gig. I was planning on seeing Kamelot who were set to play on the following night but that entire US tour was scrapped after the bands singer fell ill. Talk about a bummer. PiercingMetal.com has been fortunate to cover several dozen of the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal events that took place at this amazing venue and while it will be business as usual for the staff, security and events coordinators, we proudly present all of our existing reports while it was called The Nokia for our worldwide readership. Just click THIS LINK and a query will search the main site and give you all of the articles on one easy to enjoy page.

Do you have any stories about the venue to share? Please feel free and let us know about your own special memories of the place. I mean, it is still there for us all to enjoy but maybe there was a rousing good time or funny story that you think more people should know about. I am always up for a good yarn.

Official Website: http://www.nokiatheatretimessquare.com
Official Website: http://www.bestbuytheater.com

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