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Nightwish/Kamelot in Austin: Karevik and Jansen Hit Their Stride

October 11, 2012


 

I figured I’d follow up my previous blog entry about Anette Olzon’s abrupt departure from Nightwish with something a little more positive and music related, namely, a few quick thoughts about the Nightwish/Kamelot performance on October 10th at Emo’s in Austin, Texas. By now forums, Reddit, and a ton of other places online have been filling up with talk of just how Floor Jansen and Tommy Karevik have been handling their new roles respectively as the vocalists of Nightwish and Kamelot. To be accurate, Karevik has had a longer gestation period (going on a few months) as Roy Khan’s official replacement — Jansen has had a scant ten days and seven shows to acclimate herself to her new role and the band’s setlist. Most fans are understanding of this fact, knowing that over time and subsequent performances, she’d get better and find the right vocal approach for each song, but this being the internet, there have been a fair share of grumblers, nit-pickers, and cries for Tarja. I went into Wednesday night’s show with a mind to focus on both Karevik and Jansen in particular and to try to just come away with a honest fan’s take.

Kamelot was first, walking out in front of a backdrop of the cover of their upcoming “Silverthorn” release. They started off with what struck me as a surprise, two songs from the Ghost Opera record followed immediately by “The Great Pandemonium” from their most recent, Poetry for the Poisoned. There’s nothing inherently wrong about those choices but you’d figure that a band on tour with a new vocalist would try to shoot from the earlier classic era material straight off the bat in a fast approach to try to win over skeptics. Regardless, from the word go Karevik blew me away with his near perfect singing, seemingly effortless reach of higher registers, and his ability to inflect emotion into all the requisite moments that Roy Khan had so pinned down on the records.

The band surprised me by bringing out “Seasons End” for this tour, a bonus track left off the initial non-Japanese Ghost Opera releases and one of the band’s true gems. Karevik and guest touring vocalist Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) sang together a powerful rendition of the song and traded off solo A cappella sections of the refrain towards the end only to join back in together for one ultimate climactic chorus. The rest of Kamelot’s short set (they were opening after all) was excellent, but it was “Seasons End” that really sold me on their choice of Karevik — at least as a live vocalist. I hate to say it, because I love the mighty Khan, but Karevik really did appear to be a genuinely better vocalist on stage, and as a frontman he was engaging and didn’t miss a cue and just as importantly he seems to have calmed down on his European tour habits of trying to over hype the crowd. Now comes the album on October 30th, the final test.
 



 
As for Nightwish, I got the feeling from talking to people in the line outside and in the crowd in the venue that most fans in attendance were pretty much fine with the decision to replace vocalists mid-tour, generally not out of any real malice towards Olzon but just out of the simple satisfaction of being able to see the band live at all. Nightwish has toured the States before, but the tours have been few and far between, and who knows how many years it will be even before the next Nightwish album is out. The fact that the tour wasn’t canceled was seen as something of a miracle by those who were aware of the details of the band’s recent situation. As far as thoughts about the new vocalist… I saw a few After Forever shirts out there, but got the impression that most people didn’t know all that much about Floor Jansen.

So I’ll go out on a limb here and say something blunt that might bite me in the ass later down the line: I think Nightwish have found their permanent vocalist. If its not Floor Jansen, then they might as well just openly state that they’ll be using a rotating cast of female singers from this point onwards. She was not only surprisingly great, but there were stunningly amazing moments such as on “Ever Dream” where she delivered the song’s chorus in its true to original spirit of ever increasing high notes. I looked over to the right side of the stage during those moments to see Nightwish guitarist Emppu Vuorinen grinning in reaction in what appeared to be genuine surprise. Jansen was recovering from a cold during the first few shows of this tour but she said in a recent online posting that she’s now able to belt everything out at her full capacity. It certainly sounded that way.

 


 
The biggest surprise of the night was an airing of the “Once” album cut and fan favorite “Ghost Love Score”, which hadn’t been played since 2009. Interestingly enough my view was somewhat blocked at this point by longtime Nightwish manager Ewo Pohjola who quietly slipped into the audience to watch the band try its first attempt at performing this song with Jansen. They pulled it off, as well as the rest of the largely Imaginaerum based set list. The only moment that could be pointed out for possibly losing the crowd was “Slow Love Slow”, which works incredibly well on the album with all its moody subtleties, but doesn’t seem to translate as well live. My only other gripe would have to be the morphing of “Nemo” into an acoustic rendition, as opposed to the full dramatic flair of the original. With a singer that good, you should let her open up on your biggest hit — just saying.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric permalink
    October 12, 2012 1:03 pm

    Nice review, Pigeon. I thought Karevik was awesome when I saw this show in NYC. Khan was a great vocalist and frontman but sometimes it seemed he had some issues when singing live and would change the key of the song to compensate. I didn’t hear any such issues with Tommy who was pitch-perfect. As far as Floor goes, if they don’t keep her as a permanent vocalist, they’re out of their Finnish minds. I wish I could have seen Nightwish with her (No disrespect to Annette but let’s be honest, Floor can sing circles around her and is a better frontwoman). I’d rather watch her headbang than Annette dance around on stage akwardly. I also think they should have done “Nemo” the original way, rather than acoustic. It just sucks all the energy right out of the song.

    • October 12, 2012 5:06 pm

      It did sort of pull the rug right out from under the song in terms of drama and tension, so yeah sucking the energy is a good way of putting it. I just really noticed how it seemed to change from being this epic, melancholy pop song to this limp, passive emotionless version in the acoustic rendition. We’re probably nitpicking — it seemed like the rest of the audience loved it in Austin anyway.

  2. turgon permalink
    October 13, 2012 10:26 am

    Agreed on Nemo – youtube has Elize’s ad-hoc version of Nemo from Denver gig, and it sounds sooo much better than that acoustic version. And man, Floor sounds good on that Ever Dream.

  3. October 13, 2012 2:24 pm

    With regard to the acoustic performance of Nemo, I think all was forgiven after they performed Ghost Love Score. I still can not believe we were blessed with such a gift!!

  4. October 14, 2012 11:18 am

    You’ve now reassured me that seeing the band at their Manchester, UK show in a few weeks is going to be a treat and a half, replacement singer dramas notwithstanding. A fine review, by the way…

    • October 14, 2012 12:34 pm

      Its a shame you guys aren’t getting Kamelot as part of the UK tour but I suppose PAIN is cool. I’ve just never been able to get into anything of theirs studio wise.

  5. Shall101 permalink
    October 14, 2012 9:48 pm

    Really great show in Austin. First time to see either band live, but the new vocalists didn’t miss a beat. Floor’s voice is a great combination of Tarja and Annette…she can totally pull off the challenging vocals. And her stage presence is incredible. Only knock on the show was that Nightwish blew us off on an encore. Never been to a show where the headliner didn’t encore….

    • The Metal Pigeon permalink*
      October 14, 2012 11:01 pm

      Yeah the encore thing, I knew about it going in — that the band wasn’t doing encores. Their reasoning being that they think they’re lame, or something vague like that…. I’m not sure where I stand. On one hand I was exhausted as hell so I was kind of grateful to leave right after what I knew was the final song and not be forced to wait extra bs minutes in order for the band to go away for awhile and then come out again. On the other hand, despite their being a cliche, encores are just something that is done, its not that big of a deal and it shouldn’t be to the band but oh well. If it makes you feel better the band said their setlist was as long as it would’ve been with an encore included… meaning we didn’t get cut a song or anything.

  6. D.Lakers permalink
    October 19, 2012 8:11 am

    Great show but the crowd sucked. A lot of premadonnas, especially the guys who griped if you bumped into them. Welcome to metal folks

    • October 19, 2012 6:20 pm

      I noticed quite a different than the normal metal crowd at the Austin gig myself. Kamelot in particular seems to attract a surprising share of … well for lack of a better term, dude-brahs. But hey, who I am to judge – if they like the music thats all that matters right?

  7. October 19, 2012 10:22 am

    Ok, this is for the people complaining about Khan’s live performances. In case you couldn’t tell, their rigorous touring/recording schedule destroyed his voice over the past 5-7 years. He was always getting sick because of how fatigued he was, and you could hear on each subsequent album that he was losing a lot of his range. Go back and listen to “The Expedition”, when he was in his prime (like Tommy Karevik is now) or the song “Can You Remember” and tell me he couldn’t hit the notes.

    • October 19, 2012 6:22 pm

      Very true — and of course I realized it wasn’t exactly fair to compare latter day Khan to modern day Karevik – there’s a ten year age difference there to begin with. But Karevik hasn’t had the brutal touring schedules under his belt yet. Here’s hoping he handles it well and stays healthy.

  8. Tisa D. permalink
    October 19, 2012 1:33 pm

    OFFS Ghost Love Score!!! I would go to a Nightwish show with them playing only that song! And never complain to hear it live just one time. I went to the Anaheim and San Diego shows. Then Three nights later they add it. It is the most beautiful song on the planet! I agree Floor needs to be permant and also the final. And Karevik is an incredible blend as well. Thanks for listening to me whine. I’m over it now…it’s off my chest! Thanks for the review!

    • October 19, 2012 6:24 pm

      Haha no worries on the whining. But as far as Ghost Love Score, well hopefully they’ll be doing it at the November 10th Hartwall Arena show — rumor is that the show will be recorded for a possible release later on.

      • May 19, 2013 5:39 pm

        I guess they didn’t do it at the Atl. shows because Annie was still with them at that point. Now I want to see them again with Floor. Then worm hole it back to the “End Of An Era” recording to see Tarja’s last performance.

  9. RavenMan permalink
    October 20, 2012 2:27 am

    Was at the Tempe concert and both singers were awesome. Audience here loved Floor to the point that after the 5th song (Ever Dream I believe), the entire crowd started to chant her name. I hope she is the new singer.

  10. Passerby permalink
    October 21, 2012 3:35 am

    Never cared for Nightwish, but if they keep Floor… who knows. Her work with Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon/Star One) is superb.

    As for Kamelot. Just got my hands on Silverthorn, and right now it feels like their best, and most inspired album since The Black Halo. Everyone in the band has raised the bar a notch (Youngblood shredding?!?!?!) and songwriting is kept at a high level throughout the album.

    I was never really worried since I heard Tommy would replace Roy, but rather hoped he would bring some of the Seventh Wonder vibe with him into Kamelot. And he does..
    If we’re splitting hairs, Roy has a slightly more unique expression, but with the years his range really did suffer. In the end, Kamelot will do just as well (or better?) with Tommy.

    …and I can’t write this without mentioning Casey Grillo. One of the most underrated drummers out there.

  11. October 25, 2012 9:28 am

    Reblogged this on powerprogmetal.

  12. Joop de Rooij permalink
    October 27, 2012 4:23 am

    About Floor…you could not be more right 🙂

  13. October 28, 2012 2:07 pm

    Reblogged this on It's me, Danni P.! and commented:
    Acho que é uma boa crítica a fase nova do Nightwish. Bem válido!

  14. Tom permalink
    November 5, 2012 1:43 pm

    I was at the show in Austin and was impressed with Kamelot. I had never seen them live but was familiar with thier music. Was very pleased with their performance and would see them again without question.
    I have seen Nightwish several times, first time at Bloodstock Open Air in 2008 in England. I liked them enough to see them a month later when I was back home in Austin, Texas. Born and raised and still believe Armadillo World Headquarters was still the best live music venue Austin ever had or will have though Emo’s a great too.
    I had to wait a long time to see them again this year and it was well worth the wait.
    I saw After Forever in San Antonio back in 2007 when they opened for Finntroll and I liked Floor, great singer and nice to look at too so I knew it would be a good match when they chose her to sing for them.
    I wore my After Forever shirt to the show even. I did not see another After Forever shirt there but it was pretty packed so it is possible there was another.

    • November 5, 2012 6:59 pm

      Haha then I believe I saw you, because I only saw one guy with an After Forever shirt and was wondering why there weren’t more (also it was a good indicator that most of the people there didn’t care who was singing at the show, they just realized it was a rare chance to catch the band live).

      • Tom permalink
        November 23, 2012 1:54 am

        That was me then as I saw nobody else with such a shirt. I had to search for it as I had not worn it in years. It took an hour at least to go through my closet of hundreds of concert shirts, the ones that still fit me I wear, even the ones from the latter 70s as I usually bought two at a show. I would buy one for the here and now and a much larger size for later in life when I would be taller and rounder. I am taller and not much rounder and it blows peoples mind when they see me in a 30 year old shirt that is virtually mint. The ones that have not rotted away from constant wear and do not fit me I have found people pay alot of monies for them so I no longer use them for shop rags.

      • November 26, 2012 7:14 pm

        I can’t even count the number of rock and metal shirts I’ve gone through. I guess without realizing it, collecting and wearing them has become a hobby/way of life. Hahah

      • Tom permalink
        November 30, 2012 11:02 pm

        Right on, many a shirt rotted away and always another to wear, guess I have so many that the closet is never ending. A few years back I spent the day sorting out the ones that no longer fit in any way shape or form and put them away, sold some of them off too but my kids liked some of them so they wear them.

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