Tarja Turunen is the Finnish classical singer who with Nightwish changed the female fronted metal scene dramatically. No longer were female vocals limited to standard rock or metal styles (e.g. Doro or Girlschool), instead Tarja and Nightwish introduced classical or operatic vocals and blended them with metal to make something special. Since then hundreds of bands have started to use a more classical style female vocal with varying degrees of success. In 2005, after nine years in Nightwish, Tarja left the band and started her own solo career. Since then she’s released two studio albums (“My winter storm” and “What lies beneath”) plus an EP (The Seer). Technically it’s more than two solo albums, but I’ve ignored her Christmas album (Henkäys Ikuisuudesta) and her classical side project (Harus) and stuck to the rock/metal releases as these are the ones that are of most interest to fans of Tarja and Nightwish.
Now, as we wait for the next studio album, Tarja has chosen to release a live album/DVD. It’s available as a 2 CD pack, 2x DVD or Blu Ray. For this review I’ve looked at the CD pack.
This is an impressive live album. It’s a double CD containing 2 hours of music – now that’s what I call a good length for a gig and live album. The sound quality is absolutely superb – as you’d expect these days.
The track listing as you’d expect, reflects the setlist from the shows.
In terms of cover versions, Tarja includes only one of the two obvious choices – Whitesnakes “Still of the night”, which appeared on her “What lies beneath” album. Surprisingly her cover of Alice Cooper’s “Poison” which was on the “My winter storm” album and regularly features in her live shows is not included. We also get a great medley of “Where were you last night”, Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a place on earth” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a prayer”. I’ve never been quite convinced by Tarja’s version of “Stil of the night” – her vocals are flawless but it’s such a great song that people know so well that a cover of it will struggle to win fans over. In contrast her versions of “Heaven is a place on earth” and “Livin’ on a prayer” sound great and I really like them. We also get two cover versions that Tarja has sung since her Nightwish days – Andrew Loyd Webber’s “Phantom of the opera”, and Gary Moore’s “Over the hills and far away” and these always go down superbly well with the fans, both old and new.
In terms of songs from her time with Nightwish, Tarja includes “Tired of being alone”, “Nemo” and “Where were you last night”, all staples of her live shows, and all fantastic songs.
Additionally there are two new tracks – “Into the sun” and “Never enough”. Both are sounding great and fans are going to love them. Frankly the album is good enough that fans will buy it anyway without needing to be tempted by new songs, but I’m glad they have included them.
Tarja’s voice is simply stunning and this album shows that she can perform live just as perfectly as she can record in the studio – which is how it should be but some singers do struggle with live shows, particularly of this length, but there’s none of that here – Tarja sounds flawless throughout.
This is a great album and all fans of Tarja or Tarja era Nightwish should certainly give this a listen.
1. Anteroom of death
2. My little phoenix
3. Dark star
5. Falling awake
6. I walk alone
7. Little lies
8. Into the sun
10. Never enough
11. Still of the night
12. In for a kill
1. Boy and the ghost
2. Lost Northern star
3. Ciaran’s well
4. Tired of being alone
5. Where were you last night/Heaven is a place on earth/Livin’ on a prayer
7. Oasis/the archive of lost dreams
8. Crimson deep
9. The phantom of the opera
10. Die alive
11. Until my last breath
12. Over the hills and far away