It has been an awfully long time since Finland has seen soprano beauty Tarja Turunen, but prior to her annual Christmas shows throughout smaller towns around her homeland, she embarked on the Colors in the Dark tour to play some solo material for her dedicated fans. Musicalypse made the trip to Verkatehdas in Hämeenlinna on November 20th, 2014, just for the occasion!
I am one of those poor unfortunate souls who missed out on Tarja-era Nightwish, and I’ve been dying to get a chance to see her with her solo band ever since I moved to Finland some 6-odd years ago. The only time I’ve ever seen her live was during one of her Christmas shows back in 2009, but that could hardly be considered a comparable performance as it was a very classy, dress-up, sit-down sort of event. She sang wonderfully though, and it was a very nice show, so I naturally jumped on the opportunity to see her playing her metal songs.
The show was right on time following an opener, as the lights dimmed and a really nice instrumental version of “Deliverance” started to play. The crowd let up a roar as her musicians came on stage, seen silhouetted behind the sheer curtain that blocked them from view. They consisted of the usual instruments, plus a cellist. The curtain dropped and Tarja came on stage to sing “In for a Kill” in the highest of heels (anyone who can wear shoes like that without killing themselves is a legend). The subtle matching of the stage decorations and lighting colors to the album artwork was also a nice touch.
Turunen’s voice transitioned from high to low with such ease as you can only see in a professional, and from the moment she set foot on stage, her attitude and live persona captured our hearts. This sharply contrasted with the opening band, whose vocalist’s stage presence put us off instantly for the entirety of their performance. It just goes to show that having charisma on stage is essential, and you can’t have attitude unless you earn it or it’s part of your fun (remember my thoughts on Tobias Sammet from Edguy?).
She immediately greeted the crowd once the song ended and mentioned that it’s been a long time since she has performed in Finland. The following song was from the latest album, Colors in the Dark, entitled “500 Letters.” The majority of the setlist was from Colors in the Dark, seeing as it was a (rather late) tour for the most recent album. However, she did include songs from her previous two albums as well. “I Walk Alone” was a bit hit with the crowd, and Turunen dedicated it to the fans who have stuck with her throughout her career. “Falling Awake” from her second album was a personal favorite, as I think it’s awfully catchy and she performed it wonderfully.
It was also great to see that the age range of the crowd was really diverse – it really goes to show the dedication of Finns to their own. I saw teenagers and grandparents alike, with every age in between. I will also mention that I really and truly preferred the live version of “Anteroom of Death,” with the band and harpsichord sounds, rather than the acappella backing.
Turunen was really a delight to watch on stage. During “Little Lies,” she was doing perhaps the cutest air guitar I’ve ever witnessed. One of the best things about this show was, however, that she looked so into what she was doing. She made sure to get the crowd riled up in between the songs and she also rocked out like any other metalhead while performing. If I was to contrast her and Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), they both look gorgeous on stage, with lovely make-up and a few pretty outfits, but while Den Adel tends to do her little floaty-arm dances, it looks a bit like she’s conscious of her looks the whole time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good by any means, but I can’t deny that I like a little flare in my female-fronted metal and I appreciate a female singer who is more focused on enjoying the performance than how they appear. Turunen was jumping around (even in those heels), headbanging a little, and generally looked like she loves the genre and she’s having a blast performing – in spite of her pretty feminine outfits, she rocks the stage like someone in pants would. She played around with the band, and the show was a touch dramatic, but in the best sense of the word. “During Darkness” (a Peter Gabriel cover), while singing the lines about fear, she would play the part of being afraid, and it worked for her.
Near the end, she played the full version of “Deliverance,” which had a really nostalgic feeling that reminded me of an old favorite game, Kingdom Hearts. She ended the set by bringing her brother, Toni Turunen, on stage to perform “Medusa.” And that wasn’t the end though, as she played three more songs in the encore, one of which was “I Wish I Had an Angel,” and during the second encore, her brother joined her again to do Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away.”
After this show, I am convinced that Tarja Turunen is an artist whose songs really mean something to her. She is simultaneously lovely and a lot of fun to watch. I truly hope more people will take the rare chances they get to see her shows because she is absolutely worth it. She is both talented and totally metal, but she doesn’t appear even slightly off-putting on or off stage. I highly recommend her to anyone who is a fan of her voice.
1. Deliverance (intro)
2. In for a Kill
3. 500 Letters
4. Falling Awake
5. I Walk Alone
6. Anteroom of Death
7. Never Enough (with long outro)
8. Darkness (Peter Gabriel cover)
10. Mystique Voyage
11. Die Alive
13. Medusa (featuring Toni Turunen)
14. Victim of Ritual
15. I Wish I Had an Angel (Nightwish cover)
16. Until My Last Breath
17. Over the Hills and Far Away (Gary Moore cover featuring Toni Turunen)
Text: Amy Wiseman | Photos: Jana Blomqvist | Photo editing: Amy Wiseman