Rockharz - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Tarja Turunen was not a completely new artist to me as I had seen her live before during her Nightwish years, but this was the first time I was going to see her solo-work, so it was still a little bit like a premiere for me.

The place was the Rock Stage, the time was half past eight in the evening and yet the sun was still blazing warm over us as the famous Finnish singer took the stage.
Still, there were a couple of things I had noticed prior to this; one was the unusual placing of musicians with the keyboards in the back and the drummer out to the right of the stage, the second was the drums themselves which were an elaborate construction of far more drums and cymbals than you would usually see, all made out of white plastic and bronze details. As it turned out, the man who would handle this monster was none other than Mike Terrana, who has by this time lent his talent to more bands and artists than one can keep track of (Axel Rudi Pell, Yngwie Malmsteen and Rage to name but a few).
The rest of the band, I am sad to say, I cannot name even though they surely deserve a special mention; you see, the members of Turunen’s band were true artists; not only did they have the necessary technique honed to perfection, but they were great performers as well, which they proved by giving us a most lively and entertaining show to behold.
Turunen herself was dressed like a night out on the town as usual, and it was also quite entertaining to see her strut around the stage and throw her devil-horns in the air once in a while; this time though the entertaining part of it wasn’t as voluntary as with the rest of the band. You see, as beautiful as many find this woman, and stylish as though she may be, she certainly doesn’t look very ‘metal’ as it were. Now, I’m not one to say that this is a bad thing, I would however like to say – stick to your strengths. I can understand that, being at a metal festival, sticking your index and little finger out while raising your hand may seem like the right thing to do, but when you do it without having your heart in it, it will look fake and out of place. I can’t with 100% certainty say where her heart was, but that’s exactly how it looked to me...

Having said that, she is still technically in the absolute elite of her field (narrow as though it may be) and there wasn’t a note of during the whole show. Her compositions may not be what inspire me the most, but this is a question of taste, and the grounds were filled with people who luckily didn’t share my sentiment on this point.
All around people were crowding together to see and hear the vocalist who really brought female fronted bands to the front, as it were, and it’s no surprise that she walked around smiling much of the time, as her fans were really giving her a warm welcome to the German rural region. The only thing she could have asked for, and this she pointed out more than once during the show, was that the sun would go down; as it was now, it was behind the audience and right in her eyes when she tried to look out and over us...

I’m no connoisseur of Turunen’s solo releases, what with the difference of taste I mentioned earlier, so many of the songs which she played were completely lost on me and it was only the simplest, most generically built choruses I could even try to follow. Of course, the old Gary Moore cover Over The Hills And Far Away which came on late in the set was easy enough, and very similar (if not identical) to the version she had previously performed with Nightwish. Other than that however, I thought the songs tended to sound very much alike (a better knowledge of them might have changed this), and I wasn’t very grabbed by the whole spectacle...

Overall, I had a fun time watching the musicians, and my curiosity towards Tarja Turunen was satisfied, but in all honesty I didn’t think this was very good in anything but a purely technical stand-point, and it was certainly not the gig I would remember from the Rockharz festival...

Setlist (incomplete):

Dark Star
I Walk Alone
In For A Kill
Over The Hills And Far Away (Gary Moore cover)
Until My Last Breath

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