By Carl Begai
I’m going to preface this with a head’s up:
The following piece is my opinion, and as such it is neither wrong nor right. That said, if you feel the urge to respond to it because I’ve somehow insulted nine generations of your family and called into question your Nightwish fanboy/girl-ship, please do so intelligently. I don’t mind a conflicting view at all, so long as the person offering it put some thought into it and doesn’t need to rely on name-calling and bullshit attitude. This isn’t Bladdermouth.
Lotsa love. Read on…
So, it seems Nightwish is minus another singer. Anette Olzon (pictured above), replacement for original vocalist Tarja Turunen, became a part of the band’s history as of October 1st, 2012 and they’re supposedly better for it if the official press release is to be believed. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, Nightwish is now faced with the unenviable task of doing damage control and explaining why the woman they touted and defended left and right as Turunen’s ideal replacement was given the boot.
Olzon’s haters are, of course, celebrating with thoughts and babble of a reunion with Turunen. Who knows? It may happen, especially now that we have the technology to preserve snowballs in hell, but I doubt it. And with the positive buzz surrounding ex-After Forever singer Floor Jansen’s performance filling in, this may well be a learning-by-doing audition. The fact remains, however, that Olzon was a part of two solid albums that turned the band into a bigger deal than when Lady Tarja was with them, so whatever the follow-up may be it has to be a home run of cosmic proportions or the band is finished (in my humble opinion).
As for the reasons behind Olzon’s seemingly blink-of-an-eye ejection from her day job, the fans are going to be treated with two versions of the truth over the next several months. Chances are there were little issues between Olzon and her former bandmates that got tensions brewing to begin with – no band is immune to internal conflict – but there’s no doubt in my mind that her reaction to being temporarily replaced for the September 28th show in Denver, Colorado is what smashed the camel’s back to splinters.
For anyone that cares, Olzon took ill mid-tour prior to the band’s Denver show and ended up being hospitalized. While she was being treated, her bandmates were forced to choose between cancelling the gig or limping their way through an improvised set. Not the sort of situation a group wants to be in when they’ve playing to capacity crowds night after night, but in the end they chose to the bite and swallow the bullet by having support band Kamelot’s backing vocalists Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist) stand-in for their ailing singer.
Olzon was not amused. In a personal blog post, she made no secret of the fact she felt slighted by the move because she wasn’t consulted beforehand. Her statement (originally posted here) reads as follows:
“I was never asked if it was okay they used Elise and Alica in the show last night. I don’t think it’s a good decision they made and I’m sorry for those of you who came to see the whole band but got something else. But I was very ill and this decision wasn’t mine. Tonight I’ll be on stage doing my best despite illness.
Thanks for your support! And you know, this is just music. Like life, sometimes we get ill and shows do get cancelled. Rihanna wouldn’t ask Britney Spears to sing for her if she was ill. To think a show is more important than the humans in the band is for me, so totally not in this world.”
And that’s all she wrote…. at least as a member of Nightwish.
Common sense in this case dictates keeping the dirty laundry indoors rather than blabbing about it in a public forum and thus hurting everyone, yourself included. If the band was looking for a reason to dismiss Olzon due to some other battle of wills going on behind-the-scenes, or because they figured she was no longer capable of fronting the band, she gave it to them on a silver platter.
As a fan of Nightwish – yes, the Tarja and Anette chapters – and of live music in general, I was appalled by Olzon’s stand. As an industry person with over 15 years of experience and insight, I was disgusted. Not that I want to turn this into character assassination, because Olzon was always pleasant and nice in the instances I’d spoken with her, but I’m still trying to figure out how anyone in her position as a member of one of the most popular metal bands on the planet could be so self-absorbed and inconsiderate by taking a “me me me me” stance.
Nightwish had to take into account more than just their singer’s ego when deciding whether or not to go ahead with the show. Never mind any profits the band stood to lose for cancelling; there was also their crew to consider, the venue employees, the promoter – who takes the fall if/when a gig gets scrapped – and the fans. Especially the fans. Not all of ’em live around the corner from the Ogden Theater, and with the drawing power Nightwish have it’s a no-brainer that many in the capacity crowd travelled a good distance to get there. Time and money (think gas prices as part of the cost of a ticket) spent by people that may not have a hell of a lot of either, and in this day and age every little bit matters.
The band could have said “Hey Anette, while you’re puking your guts out, would you mind if we go ahead and try to honour our obligations?” And if/when she said no to the idea… voila! Drama of a slightly different kind, quite possibly with the same end result.
Band and management made the right choice, and really, it was the only choice that made sense. And if the fan responses to Olzon’s blog are any indication – the majority of which supported the go-ahead decision even as they expressed understanding for her hurt feelings – she definitely crossed the line with a diva attitude.
Fact is Olzon should have been grateful for the support. Instead, she couldn’t be arsed to even spell Elize’s and Alissa’s names correctly. The ladies could have said no, leaving everyone in the lurch, but instead they hit the stage with lyric sheets and the best of intentions and kicked the set in the ass as best they could. The fans got a once in a lifetime experience, and while it wasn’t the Nightwish show they were expecting, something was better than nothing for most of the people in the room if the online reactions are anything to go by.
I may be way off, of course. It’s possible that Nightwish’s founder / songwriter Tuomas Holopainen (oh yeah, lest we forget: his band, his call) is extremely hard to work with, and that whatever brought the axe down went much deeper than a horrible lapse in judgement on Olzon’s part.
We’ll find out sooner or later. Me, I’m inclined to believe the band saw the birth of a second diva on the horizon and chose to treat the wound rather than waiting for it to fester. Or, better said, they cut out the wound entirely.