Nederlander presents… Nightwish at The City National Grove of Anaheim, California, October 5th, 2012.
Finland invades America, and they beg for more! Nightwish returned to the U.S. shores for a full fledged tour, following a brief two show stint at the beginning of the year. However, shocking news greeted fans of the band just five days prior to this evening’s show, when the band announced on Facebook that they had parted ways with lead singer Anette Olzon (saddening many, delighting all of the “Tarja forever” fans). Yet, as the statement read, they had “no intention of canceling any upcoming shows”. So, on extremely short notice, Floor Jansen (from After Forever, and ReVamp) flew over from Europe to take the helm. Skepticism and curiosity were abundant.
As the build up to the show began, the murmurings were getting louder and louder amongst the crowd, how would this turn out? The result? Amazing, simply amazing. What seemed like a show which could have become more of a spectacle due to lead vocal changes turned into a celebration of Floor’s membership in Nightwish. As the final flourishes of the intro, Crimson Tide faded away, replaced by the first single from the Imaginaerum album, Storytime, Jansen took over and quickly put to rest any rumblings about the memory of Anette (make no mistake, Anette was wonderful during her time in the band). Rocker, sexy, sultry, and in command, there was no doubt left about the inclusion of Floor into this storied band. Marco Hietala, bassist and vocalist, jumped in to make his presence felt for the powerful Wish I Had An Angel, and by this point, two songs into Southern California’s first taste of the new Nightwish, the Grove was loud and alive.
Fellow Nightwish members Tuomas Holopainen, Emppu Vuorinen, and Jukka Nevalainen were much more active with their new lead singer than in previous California shows of the past, as if the baton pass from Anette to Floor had relieved a mountain of tension. For her part, Floor seemed completely at ease with a band she’s been a member of for all of five days. Emppu bounced around the stage, grinding away on guitar and acting almost as band cheerleader, throwing out picks and actively engaging the crowd. Jukka, perched behind an impressive drum kit, filled The Grove with echoing booms, and Tuomas, the backbone of Nightwish’s electronic flourishes, let his masterful touch on keys speak volumes for the 90 minute set. In the middle of the evening, Nightwish was joined by Uillean Pipe master, Troy Donockley, for a subdued, at times acoustic break in the symphonic metal showcase featuring The Islander, Nemo, and Last Of The Wilds.
And then it was time for one last push, one last thunderclap of what has made Nightwish the success they are, head banging, feet stomping, battle cries of havoc, with Floor Jansen’s presence more confident with each banger, finishing the night with Planet Hell, Ghost River, Song Of Myself, and the epic closer, Last Ride Of The Day. Even without the pyrotechnics and cannons full of confetti that have become a staple of Nightwish shows, this somewhat stripped down performance was memorable for all the right reasons. If tonight was a taste of the future for Nightwish, there is no stopping them.