“Act. I” by Tarja

Artist: Tarja
Title: “Act I”
Label: Armoury Records
Release Date: 9/4/2012
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Rating: 4.25/5

You loved her voice in Nightwish for so many years and cried true tears at her departure from the group but despite the sadness, there would be no sitting idle for the amazing vocal talent that is Tarja Turunen as she would press on with original material and release two albums since with “My Winter Storm” and “What Lies Beneath”. I remember in the past how we always had to wait a long time for live albums to come out but now these are faster and more furious and with this being the case I offer up “Act 1”, Tarja’s first-ever solo live recording and a release that brings you listeners at home to the front row and center of concert and what a concert it is. Recorded over the course of two shows at the Teatro El CìrculoIt in Rosario, Argentina. Delivered on audio CD, DVD and Blu-ray video; my review is of the audio companion to the video being released simultaneously but is not included in the same package which is a shame for this particular issue in my opinion.

I’m going to start by saying just how much I have missed this woman’s voice in the live concert sense because I had been a Nightwish fan for many years before her solo career began. I was lucky to have caught and loved the concert she did for “My Winter Storm” when she brought it to NYC but that had been over three years ago and that’s too long for me to go between shows enjoying a voice like this. The concert is chock full of tunes and is nothing less than encompassing based on the manner in which it was presented. Since they took the content from the span of two shows, it seems as though they morphed them together to give you the feel of one lengthy show. Doing this gives the home listener one large performance that includes everything. It doesn’t hurt to do this since we find bands like Maiden and Rush releasing full show recordings that come from any recent tour that completes. Since the demand for this continues I say keep it coming. So what about the Tarja show makes it an exceptional live release, well there are a number of points to discuss. Eight of the eleven songs that are found on “What Lies Beneath” are delivered during the concert while seven come from “My Winter Storm”. As I own both of these albums I can say that there are a handful of winners on each especially with “I Walk Alone” and “Until My Last Breath” respectively. The crowd erupts in responsive joy when the notes of Nightwish’s “Nemo” begin but in the larger sense of the concert Tarja does not rely on the catalog of her former band in terms of their originals. She does do two of the covers that were often done with them in “Phantom Of The Opera” and “Over The Hills And Far Away”, the latter being a classic of the late great Gary Moore. The concert gives us two unreleased songs as well and I felt that they were strong contenders for tunes that I had never heard before and think all of her fans will enjoy them.

Tarja also does what I felt was an off putting rendition of “Still Of The Night” by Whitesnake and while some may like how she does this, I just find her voice does not fit the manner of register needed for this particular tune. Perhaps the same person who suggested that she cover Alice Cooper’s “Poison” convinced her of this. No offense to her talent, but these songs are not good covers for her when she can easily kick some ass on a Renaissance number or anything else with a soaring female lead vocal. Despite the reservation, Tarja sounds fantastic and one can only envision the expression on her face as the theatre audience responds to each number. Joining Tarja are what appears to be an exceptional band with in Alex Scholpp (Electric Guitar), Kevin Chown (Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Ukulele), Christian Kretschmar (Keyboards, Cello), Mike Terrana (Drums/Djembe), and Max Lilja (Cello). I’m new to all the members of her band with the exception of Terrana who I view as one of the fiercest Metal and Hard Rock drummers in the business in terms of execution and presentation.

Sadly Tarja didn’t manage to bring her “What Lies Beneath Tour” to the USA but maybe if the new CD and DVD find any success, perhaps she will change that and let all of her fans see what they have been missing from the Symphonic Metal world for these last few years. My plan is to get my hands on the Blu-ray version of the film because those are just incredible for such a presentation.

Track Listing:
1. Anteroom Of Death
2. My Little Phoenix
3. Dark Star
4. Naiad
5. Falling Awake
6. I Walk Alone
7. Little Lies
8. Into The Sun
9. Nemo
10. Never Enough
11. Still Of The Night
12. In For A Kill
13. Boy And The Ghost
14. Lost Northern Star
15. Ciaran’s Well
16. Tired Of Being Alone
17. Medley
18. Oasis/The Archive Of Lost Dreams
19. Crimson Deep
20. The Phantom Of The Opera
21. Die Alive
22. Until My Last Breath
23. Over The Hills and Far Away

Official Website: http://www.tarjaturunen.com/

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