Tarja Brings Symphonic Euphoria to the El Rey

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy

When comes to symphonic metal, nobody does a better job at creating it than Finland’s own Nightwish. With songs filled with fantasy and mythological themes accompanied by an operatic rock sound, Nightwish is one of the best. They have had 3 frontwomen lead them over the course of their career, from Anette Olzon to the current Floor Jansen. Having seen them back in May, Jansen blew me away with her glorious voice. However, it would been cool to hear Nightwish with original singer, Tarja Turunen. Her gothic style and emotionally powerful singing made her a dominate voice in the world of symphonic metal. Since leaving Nightwish in 2005, Tarja has enjoyed a successful solo career. She just released her newest live album, Act II, and has decided to hit the road, spreading her musical wonder. She stopped by the El Rey Theater in Hollywood, and I was invited.

Following the opening act, Tarja Turunen stepped into the light with her custom all-white microphone in hand, and serenaded the fans with “No Bitter End.” For the entire night, she was a spectacle to watch on stage. The rock diva let it all out with her amazing 3 octave range; it was like watching a gothic angel sing the in the choir. Tarja is nothing without the musicians she brought with her that made the music all the more mesmerizing. Starting with her long-time collaborator, guitarist Alex Scholpp. He stole the show with his wicked hooks and classical riffs, as well as courting the audience with some swift solos. Tarja also brought cello player Max Lilja, drummer Timm Schreiner, keyboardist Christian Kretschmar, and bassist Kevin Chown, who brought the boom with his mighty instrument. Together, they slayed the crowd.

Tarja conquered the entire evening. Not only did she perform her own stuff from The Shadow Self (“Demons in You,” “Diva,” “Love to Hate”), Colours in the Dark (“Victim of Ritual”), and The Brightest Void (“Eagle Eye”), but also 3 songs from her days in Nightwish like “Tutankhamen,” “Ever Dream,” “The Riddler,” and “Slaying the Dreamer.” During “Calling from the Wind,” Tarja steps off the stage and let her bandmate have a moment in the spotlight to show off their skills. After the Nightwish covers, they all moved to the front of the stage and gave an acoustic performance of different songs from different artists. It was pure beauty to watch them get intimate with the crowd. As soon as “Victim of Ritual,” they group took a quick breather before heading back out for an incredible 3 song encore, which included “Innocence,” “Die Alive,” and “Until My Last Breath.”

Full Tarja Turunen slide show below:

The evening was blissful to watch Tanja work her magic and give an outstanding performance. During the show, she changed outfits on 2 different occasions. She was radiant to watch, and angelic to listen to. She has this way of connecting the crowd and making them feel important to her. This Holiday Season, she plans on hitting the Czech Republic and Russia to spread Christmas joy, thanks to her gothic Christmas album from last year, From Spirits and Ghosts. That would make for an excellent Christmas experience. To Tarja, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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