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Tarja - 'Act 1' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/67/b9/a1/2955_TarjaTurunenAct1_1352317662.jpg Hot

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Tarja's first live solo release.

I have two good friends, one of whom only listens to the material Nightwish have recorded since the departure of Tarja Turunen, while for the other Nightwish pretty much ceased to exist the day the rest of the band handed the singer her P45. Such is the controversy and the legacy of the world’s most famous metal soprano…

After some classical faffing about following her two studio outings (‘My Winter Storm’ in 2007 and ‘What Lies Beneath’ three years later) Ms Turunen is back on great form with ‘Act 1’. Recorded earlier this year over two nights at the Teatro El Circulo, Rosario, Argentina, and available as either a double CD or a DVD/Blue Ray this is her first ‘real’ live solo release. “After two studio albums I felt it was time to come up with the live release since I had enough material for it,” is how she describes the album’s raisin d’être. “I really want to show the world where I am as an artist today and what my music is about. There is no better way to show it than with a live release.”

And Ms Turunen has a very good point. The two dozen tracks assembled for this audio release indeed showcase both her stunning voice and the strength and depth of her material, without overdubs (it says here) although utilising a full range of backing tapes that most symphonic artists need to bring their songs to life. The result is a huge soundscape, all-encompassing and awe-inspiring, which goes some way to showing what made the singer such an icon.

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The obvious crowd-pleasers – ‘Nemo’ and the execrable ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ – are present and correct; but alongside its obvious attractions the album has a few neat tricks up its sleeve to make matters more interesting. Examples? Taking two tracks off the limited edition second disc of ‘What Lies Beneath’ including the stunning take on ‘Still Of the Night’, is a pretty brave step; or including a Nightwish B-side ‘Where Were You Last Night’ (itself a cover) and running it into a medley of ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ and ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. And OK, while the medley might not be that slick it’s actually quite fun – and isn’t that the point, at the end of the day?

Tucked away in the running order are two new songs ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Into The Sun’ – a mid-paced rocker and a ballad, the former being by far the better offering – and although they don’t sound much different from the rest of the set that’s surely a good sign for the singer’s upcoming third album, currently in production. And on top of all this, ‘Act 1’ plays out with Gary Moore’s ‘Over the Hills And Far Away’. What’s not to like?

John Tucker

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