Entries in Nightwish (2)


Change: ready or not, here it comes

Last week I wrote an article about Nightwish, describing how much my family enjoyed our road trip to see the band in Salt Lake City. I mentioned that their lead singer, Anette Olzon, had been in the hospital for their previous show in Denver and they had performed with a makeshift lineup. I had applauded the band and Anette for making the show in Denver work and for coming back out the following night to put on a show we all enjoyed. Little did I know that at roughly the same time I published that article, Nightwish was onstage in Seattle, performing with Floor Jansen on vocals, because Anette had been asked to leave the band.

Just like that, my most-often played band on KGLT had gone through a major upheaval and there's really no way to know whether the next chapter will be as enjoyable for me. The music world has these shifts all the time. David Lee Roth split with Van Halen, and regardless of which version you like the best, the band was never the same after that (with Sammy HagarGary Cherone, and the return of David Lee Roth ). There are these magic periods in a band's creative lifetime and sometimes they are painfully short. And then things change...

I had been excited about my activities on the radio and had anticipated the onset of construction for the Music Tech Center. With the former, I felt like I'd really found a home, a place with like-minded music lovers sharing the common thread of highly eclectic taste. With the latter, I could taste the next step and see what the building would look like after completion. And then things change...

So, I now move on because that's the only thing any of us can do. Sometimes the changes come along and you can't stop them. We've got an election coming up. Even if political sentiment was the same as four years ago, things would still change. Under current circumstances there will have to be changes, some of which I will be unhappy about, and maybe, if I'm lucky, there will be a few things I'm happy about.

More importantly, though, I have to accept the ongoing progression of life and the many aspects I have no control over. Time is a big one for me. It passes no matter what I do to increase my efficiency or shortchange myself on sleep. I'm once again looking at how I spend my time and wondering which activities are really worth the effort. I'm also facing the challenge that the same creative juices are needed for blog writing as for songwriting. I'm taking 3 songwriting and music classes this quarter and barely having time to breathe. I love what I'm learning but to get the most out of the experience I'm skimping on a lot of other activities.

Honestly, it may be time to cut my losses with respect to the radio show. It hasn't been much fun since losing my regular slot and I'm not seeing a way back to that enjoyment level. The Music Tech Center is still very much up in the air, but I need are more conversations and more pondering, things I do better when I have some breathing room. Finally, there's the question of this blog...

I spend a few hours every week writing the articles for this blog. Over the last 2 or 3 months, I've had a harder time coming up with ideas for those articles. Now, the blog writing is butting heads with all my songwriting homework and without the radio activities I have less music-related thoughts to share with everyone. I think that my blog is going through one of those "And then things change..." moments. It was inevitable but it's still destabilizing. To keep the blog going and keep the content lively, I need some new pool of ideas. I need to be talking about something that I care deeply about and that I'm actively immersed in. Hence, the blog needs to change, much like replacing its lead vocalist or changing its record label, something to freshen things up.

At the moment, I see a songwriting and my efforts to release my next project(s) as the prime candidate. Yes, I've talked about those here previously, however, those were interspersed with many articles drawn from my radio experiences and suddenly there's a lot less of those. I'm thinking that the blog will become a way to keep all of you updated on my creative efforts. As such, I don't honestly know how often I'll update it through the end of 2012 with my course load and the holidays. Somewhere along the line, however, I anticipate things picking up again. As I start generating musical content, then the blog can serve it's primary purpose as an extension of my own experiences and a way to share those things that mean the most to me.


Nightwish/Kamelot in Salt Lake City - the reward for months of planning

We've had this trip planned for around six months, the last of our big summer of metal travels. We split the drive from Bozeman to Salt Lake City ("SLC") roughly in half, staying in Rexburg, Idaho on Friday night and rolling into SLC mid-afternoon on Saturday. Our only complication was my son, Zane's, sudden onset of some GI ailment, leaving us unsure how much of the show he was going to see. But we managed to get the kids a quick swim in the salty swimming pool at Howard Johnson's, a satisfying dinner at P.F. Chang's and then we headed to the The Complex for the show.

We immediately knew that we'd "arrived" as we drove up. There was a line around the corner, down the block and all the way to the train tracks. This was definitely a metal crowd, lots of black attire and concert T's. It became clear we were facing yet another complication once we'd stood in line for 30 minutes after the doors were scheduled to open. Apparently sound checks had run over by 60-90 minutes and they'd only been able to let 400 people into the main lobby of the venue. Fortunately, much like Calgary, this was also a well-behaved metal crowd,

Eventually the line started moving and we all were able to redeem our Will Call codes to get into the show. It was fortunate that this show had no opening acts, just two headliner-caliber bands. Once we were all in the venue, there wasn't any further delay; Kamelot kicked into their set with a vengeance. I've never seen Kamelot before and was immediately impressed with their energy and polish. I was especially struck by the energy of their new vocalist, Tommy Karevik, and his ability to get the crowd involved. More so than recent shows we've seen in Sweden and Canada, the crowd in Salt Lake City made lots of noise, chanting, yelling and singing along throughout the set.

The four of us also had an extra connection to Kamelot, being big Amaranthe fans. We really enjoyed seeing Elize Ryd, one of Amaranthe's three singers, performing various lead and backup vocals for Kamelot. It was icing on the cake to see and hear Elize live for the second time in less than two months. Now we can hope that, with Amaranthe's new album due out in 2013, perhaps we can see Elize 3 times in one year. I was also impressed with The Agonist's Alissa White-Gluz's vocal contributions to Kamelot's set and was particularly struck by her stage presence. That makes we very curious to see The Agonist if I get the chance.

Kamelot wrapped up a very tight, and perhaps a little too short, set. Thankfully, after the long wait in line, it didn't take the stage crew too long to transition over and get Nightwish onstage. In truth, Nightwish was the reason we made the trip and I was excited to finally be hearing them live. They immediately launched into "Storytime" one of my family's favorite Nightwish songs, and played "Amaranth", another favorite, third. I immediately found myself thinking about how much I enjoy Anette Olzon's easygoing and friendly stage presence, and her sweet, comforting voice. Yes, many fans were disappointed when Tarja Turunen was asked to leave Nightwish, but I have found that both the albums featuring Anette (Dark Passion Play and Imaginaerum) are in my "favorite albums ever" list. In a way, with Anette and Marco Hietala, the band became more listenable for me. The grandiosity of their symphonic elements is counterbalanced perfectly by the rawness of Marco's voice and the personal familiarity of Anette's.

It was fun seeing Marco, and how essential he's become to Nightwish's stage presence. He would be a natural fit for Kopiklaani, both in looks and personality, adding a raucous humor and forcefulness to Nightwish that I welcome.

My daughter, Kiley, had mentioned to me right after dinner that she wanted Nightwish to play a long set. Well, she got her wish. They were on stage for about 90 minutes, playing heavy hitters like the aformentioned "Storytime" and "Amaranthe", along with "Ghost River" and finishing up with "Last Ride of the Day". In between they treated us to acoustic versions of "Nemo" and two of their more folk-infused pieces ("Finlandia" and "Last of the Wilds").

Since the show started late, Zane was completely wiped out by the end of the set. Kiley gave it her all but was also pretty tired. Still, we were all content as we walked the few blocks back to our car and drove the quick trip back to our motel. Once we get back to the room, I was still pretty energized and not quite ready to fall asleep, so I dug around a bit trying to learn a bit about the show and some of the guest performers.

In the process, I discovered just how lucky we were. Having driven over 7 hours to reach Salt Lake City, and dedicated an entire weekend to attend this show, we hadn't allowed ourselves to worry that the show might not happen. Little did we know how close we came to that outcome. Reading through postings on Nightwish's Facebook page, I learned that Anette had been hospitalized the previous night, unable to perform in Denver. I also learned that the band had scrambled to live up to their commitment to the fans in Denver. Thanks to valiant efforts by Elize and Alissa from Kamelot, Nightwish played the Denver show, despite missing their lead singer.

To me, this is a testament to Nightwish's professionalism and commitment. By my rough count, 90% of fans' responses on the Facebook page were positive, although the other 10% were shockingly unkind and insensitive. Personally, I am in awe of everyone who scrambled to make both the Denver and Salt Lake City shows happen despite the difficult circumstances. As a musician, I have nothing but respect for Elize and Alissa, filling in on incredibly short notice and for the rest of Nightwish for pulling a show together. I realize the fans in Denver didn't exactly see the show they had hoped to see, but in a way, they got to see something extra special. I suspect many will remember the show as a unique experience, one that demonstrates success in the face of defeat and one that they'll remember for the rest of their lives. I also suspect that at least some of them will walk away with a greater interest in Amaranth and The Agonist, having seen what Elize and Alissa were able to do on short notice for Nightwish. Based on some of my own recent experiences with family health and hospitals, I think I can imagine how difficult it was for Anette to get back on stage and give an amazing performance, having spent the previous night in the hospital. I wish nothing but the best to Anette and hope this is just one of those sudden and brief medical challenges, much like I hope for Zane's GI complications.

For those Nightwish and Kamelot fans yet to see them on this tour, you are in for a treat; do not miss the show! For those readers that weren't planning to see them, but still have chance to get tickets to upcoming shows, you really should spend the money and go see this show. If you can't catch one of the remaining shows, but are curious about Nightwish and Kamelot, check out their recent releases (e.g. Imaginaerum and Sacrimony (single)). If you are impressed with Elize's and Alissa's efforts to save the show in Denver, be sure to check out Amaranthe and The Agonist. There's a lot of great music to experience between all of these amazing musicians and I recommend you explore it all thoroughly to find how it overlaps with your tastes.