From The Erbo Files
Monday, October 1, 2012

The drama has taken an unexpected turn.

Anette Olzon, despite having been extremely sick that night, had something of a complaint with the way the rest of the band handled the Denver show:

... I was never asked if it was ok they used Elise and Alica [sic] 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.

She later expounded on this: "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."

Well, I'm not sure that analogy holds in this case; Rihanna and Britney Spears are much more tied to their particular music than Anette was tied to Nightwish's she should know, having sung many songs that were originally voiced by Tarja Turunen. (At least three were still on the set list as of the Denver show: "Wish I Had An Angel," "Nemo," and "Over the Hills And Far Away." ) Besides which, I'm sure I was not hallucinating when Tuomas and Troy took the stage during the intermission, and Troy asked us which outcome we preferred: a canceled show, or running it through with Elize to help. We, the fans in the Ogden Theater that night, overwhelmingly supported going on with the show. So if Anette blames the other band members, she'll have to blame us as well.

And now the other shoe has dropped:

Another chapter of the Nightwish story has ended today. Nightwish and Anette Olzon have decided to part company, in mutual understanding, for the good of all parties involved.

In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover.

Nightwish has no intention of cancelling any upcoming shows, and as a result we have decided to bring in a substitute vocalist starting in Seattle 1.10.2012. Her name is Floor Jansen from The Netherlands (ex-After Forever, ReVamp), and she has graciously stepped in to help us complete the Imaginaerum world tour.

We are all strongly committed to this journey, this vehicle of spirit, and we are sure that this will lead to a brighter future for everyone.

We forever remain excited about the adventures to come, and we are extremely proud of the two beautiful albums and the wonderful shows we shared together.

Wow. So not expecting that.

A number of observations in the wake of this news:

  • This has all the earmarks of being a "straw that broke the camel's back" kind of situation. There musthave been earlier incidents between Anette and the rest of the band that led up to this; one incident, in isolation, doesn't seem like it would have been enough. Anette's hiring already caused something of a Broken Base with many fans, and all the criticism of her vs. Tarja (unjustified, IMHO) had to have been rough on her. We may never learn the whole story behind this, however.

  • Floor Jansen is as good a pick for "replacement vocalist" as you could get. After Forever was one of the bands that helped define the symphonic-metal genre. She's very much in the vein of Tarja and Epica's Simone Simons, in terms of her vocal style.  Once she gets up to speed with the Nightwish repertoire, the remaining shows on the tour should work out well.

  • Will she be a permanent replacement? Probably not. So Nightwish will have to audition lead vocalists again. This, of course, has happened before, and I'm pretty sure they can survive it...assuming Tuomas himself wants to continue after this.

  • And that illustrates one of the big things about Nightwish that any replacement vocalist will have to remember: They may be the "face" of the band, but they are not, and never will be, its center. Tuomas is that center, and any lady who takes over vocalist duties for Nightwish will have to subordinate her ego for the sake of the band--no easy task for anyone with the temperament to be a lead singer. Tarja ultimately (and famously) failed in this; Anette may have as well, though I have no solid proof of this.

In closing, I bear Anette no ill will. I was fortunate enough to see Nightwish with her as lead singer when they came to Denver in 2008, for the Dark Passion Play tour, and, had this blog been running back then, I would have raved about that show just as much as I raved about this one. She handled both her own repertoire and Tarja's with aplomb; I'll remember her performances of music like "Sleeping Sun" and "Wishmaster" always. And, though she was singing Tuomas' words over Tuomas' music, it was her voicethat first brought the world "Amaranth." For that, I am eternally grateful.

And now, like the rest of you, I await further developments.

UPDATE: Steven "Padre" Buehler, a fellow fan, weighs in with his own analysis, relating it back to his own experience seeing Nightwish during the DPP tour (for what would be their last show, due to a hurricane and, once again, Anette getting sick).

SECOND UPDATE: Well, now. It turns out Nightwish was already planning to let Anette go. We know this because Floor has said, in a radio interview, that the band asked her to to join them starting in November...but then she got a text on September 29 (the day after the Denver show) that said, "How fast can you get to the USA?" So the only effect the Denver show drama had, it appears, was to accelerate the timetable of Anette's replacement.  Denver fans can breathe easy.

Troy has spoken up about the events surrounding the switch:

The joy of this adventure was being wrecked and everyone was feeling very insecure. It was seriously interfering with our tasting sessions of the fine wines from the Napa Valley. Outrageous!

We never could have predicted that myself and Tuomas Holopainen would find ourselves on stage, alone, asking an audience of over 1,600 in Denver to vote by a show of hands on whether the band should perform or not. Touchingly we were met by a sea of upraised hands; beautiful – but how surreal.

We are all feeling a squillion times better. Our replacement singer Floor is simply majestic and we are having fearless fun. And on evidence of the ecstatic response to the last two shows, the fans seem to understand that this ‘vehicle of spirit’ cannot be derailed so easily.

Which jibes with my initial report from the opposite end of that poll...and from the show itself, for that matter.

Floor seems to be having a good time with what she calls "a really awesome opportunity," but hasn't said whether she wants the job permanently. Bear in mind, she has another band, ReVamp, that is expected to release a new album next spring, and she wrote most of the material for their first album, so this might interfere with a gig as Nightwish's lead singer. (And no, Tarja doesn't want the job back, so just don't go there.)

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