The Kamelot/Nightwish concert at the Ogden Theatre on Friday was a serious case of “the show must go on.” Maybe even one of the band must go on. Both groups had built a passionate fan base due in large part to an enigmatic lead singer. And both had to replace their lead singers in recent years, so this tour had the power to solidify or sever their fan bases, forcing the replacements to prove their credibility.
Kamelot took the first shot, with Tommy Karevick working to fill the rather large shoes of the charismatic Roy Khan. Is it sheer coincidence that Karevick bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Khan? Kamelot’s first recording with Karevick doesn’t come out for another month, so this was his chance to make the all-important first impression. While his performance was satisfactory, it won’t cause the faithful to soon forget the loss of Khan. It wasn’t Kamelot’s lead singer who made the biggest impression. It was the touring background singer, Elize Ryd, and not for her performance with Kamelot (keep reading).
The crowd grew restless at the slow changeover following Kamelot’s generally well-received set. After all, they were very eager to see if Nightwish’s current front woman, Anette Olzon, had the live pipes to measure up to the iconic vocals of Tarja Turunen — a debate that has deeply polarized the fan base of Finland’s most successful band abroad. (Nightwish has reportedly sold more than 8 million records worldwide and collected 60 awards.) This was the big chance for Denver fans to decide if they were staying onboard the Nightwish train. Only it wasn’t.
The reason for the delay was eventually revealed: Olzon had been rushed to the hospital, and it was left to an audience vote as to whether the show should be canceled, or they all have what one band member called “a huge karaoke night.” Although stunned by the announcement, the crowd clamored for the show to go on, and as the lights went down, Kamelot’s Elize Ryd emerged with lyric sheets in hand, singing “Storytime.” Ryd made a valiant effort to spontaneously salvage the show with performances sprinkled through the set, and her awkward but earnest efforts on “Amaranthe” and “Nemo” were rewarded with heavy praise.
The band and audience alike seemed to be determined to make the best of a bad situation. Bass player Marco Hietala filled some spots with falsetto vocals and allowed the crowd to take the reigns on other songs. Yet another unexpected surprise was the performance of uileann pipes master Troy Donockley, whose Celtic leads sharply contrasted the bombastic symphonic wall of sound created by Empuu Vuorinen’s guitar and Tuomas Holopainen’s keyboards. Concluding with a cinematic version of Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away,” Nightwish somehow managed to team up with a forgiving audience to play what is surely going to be a stop in the tour the band won’t soon forget.
Alan Cox is the president/creative director of Cox Creative, a Highlands Ranch-based creative shop. He works too much, sleeps too little and spends every free moment coaching baseball, shooting images and hanging out with his rowdy sons and rowdier wife. Check out his photos here.