Recorded over two nights at the El Circulo Theatre in Rosario, Argentina in March 2012 what we have here is a first live double album from ex Nightwish singer soprano Tarja Turunen. It has also been released on a double DVD with even more material on it although this review is based on the CD’s only. That is all you need to know if the idea of Nightwish and Tarja send a shiver of dread down your spine. If you are a fan however this is one humungous package that you are most certainly going to want to grab at the very first opportunity. Personally I have the last two Tarja albums and enjoy rather than detest what she does (there is very little middle ground) although her first Christmas based studio release is certainly a step too far for my sensibilities. She has kind of broken my ten year rule on releasing a live album too early in her solo career and we could have done with a few more Nightwish songs here than just Nemo. However I guess Tarja wants to get over her past rather than look back on it and showcase the fact that she has so much more material since she split from her former band. Luckily listening to this I am reminded of just what a high quality of music she has as a solo artist.
Judging by the rapturous applause on everything the whole two hours plus of music goes down very well with those assembled at the time. The first disc kicks off in incredible style too with the storming dramatic bombast of ‘Anteroom Of Death’ the lead cut of 2010 album ‘What Lies Beneath’ This for me along with the closing track on the disc also taken from the album ‘In For A Kill’ are definite highlights but I do love the stormier tracks and with a backdrop that unashamedly cites Stravinsky’s ‘Rite Of Spring, jagged guitar and the full scope of Tarja’s dazzling voice, what’s not to like? She enjoys flirting with classical compositions and here it works fantastically but…
There also is preponderance for quite a few classics over the albums and Bach and Lloyd Webber duelling with The Phantom Of The Opera is a step too far in the wrong direction as far as I am concerned. Then there is Whitesnake worship for The Still Of The Night which I admit is not too jarring but the triple pronged medley assault of ‘Where Were You Last Night’ ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ and ‘Livin On A Prayer’ is far too much of an endurance test and has me wanting to run ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ speaking of which…. that is the very last number.
The musicianship is excellent and one should not forget that this is more than a one woman show. Apparently the band were selected from those that had alternated on her last two tours so they had to co-ordinate things carefully having pretty much two of each as far as guitarists and bassists were concerned. I guess you get more of an idea of this on the DVD though. Apart from the more traditional band instruments there are also the likes of cello, djembe and even a ukulele getting in on the act.
I have to admit that on the review listens I have made of this album I have played the discs over separate days, it’s just a bit too intensive and long to take in one listen and there are songs like some of the aforementioned covers that I am going to find myself hitting the skip button on repeated listens. That said I can quite happily dip in and out of this and come back to it and enjoy it in the future compared to those mega fanatical Tarja junkies who will no doubt devour this fully on a daily basis and give it a ten out of ten mark if it were up to them.
(7/10 Pete Woods)