@ Islington Academy, London, UK
11th February 2014
Review by Photography by Graham Hilling
A late start and the pull of Tarja ensures that the one and only support this evening are greeted by a full Islington Academy when they take to the stage.
Eloyse are from France and this is their first visit to London
They are a four piece with female vocals playing, for the most part, straight forward rock. The vocals are quite sung but sometimes sound like they are in conflict with the music. Some of the lower registers do sound a bit strained at times.
Still, the audience seems mostly one over and they are well received. They also look pretty happy to be playing here this evening finish the set with a stage photo and the audience in the background- one for the scrapbook!
It’s clear though that everyone here tonight has come to see Tarja Turunen. I’m sure I don’t need to introduce this singer who was a founding member of Nightwish who were formative in setting the direction for many symphonic metal bands who followed in their footsteps. She also inspires a fanatical following – some of the people I spoke to before the gig had been queuing outside since 8:45 morning to ensure they had a prime position at the barrier.
Also, this is the first gig where I have seen a real nun in attendance! Just an observation!
Anyway, Tarja takes to the stage amid hightened anticipation and immediately it is 100% obvious who is in control. She is the consummate professional and looks completely comfortable on the stage. She also ensures that she surrounds herself with very accomplished musicians.
And one of the great things about tonight is the minimal amount of playback used, the majority of the music is actually played by real people, in front of your eyes! Mike Terrana on drums and Anna Portalupi on bass are as solid as rhythm section gets, Terrana sitting behind a huge kit with overhead cymbals, making full use of the kit. Guitars are provided by Alex Scholpp, cello by Max Lilja and some really impressive keys from Christian Kretschmar. No weak points here and a great foundation for the impressive vocals of Tarja to build on.
The set consists of songs from all the albums with a slight bias towards the latest album “Colours in the Dark”, starting with the intro from Deliverance. It’s then straight into “In for a Kill” and Tarja takes to the stage amid cheers and even screams. There is no denying that she has a very impressive voice, sometimes erring too much on the operatic for my taste but always very strong and full of emotion.
The set continues in similar vein with “500 Letters”. “Falling Awake” takes us back in time a little with its’ suitably chunky refrain and crowd favourite “I Walk Alone” from “My Winter Storm” is dedicated to the audience. It’s all performed pitch perfect and smooth as silk.
“Never Enough” allows for an extra outro to allow the band to really show their talents while Tarja has the opportunity to perform a quick outfit change. Terrana is very impressive with a very nice drum solo, making full use of his massive kit (which takes up about quarter of the stage!).
We then have “Sing for Me” which is disturbing and beautiful in equal measure, quickly followed by “Die Alive” from the same album. The closing song from the set is appropriately Medusa which while being a little overly lengthy builds beautifully (once again, majestic performance by the band, killer intro).
The first encore showcases the Bolero inspired “Victim of Ritual”, with some great rolling rrrr’s from Tarja really bringing the vocal to life in the chorus, this truly is a cracking song. Quickly followed by the only Nightwish song in the set (and to be honest, I’d rather listen to the solo material now anyway). “Wish I Had an Angel” sounds good and the bleeds into “Until My Last Breath” to rock the evening out.
A really impressive show, enjoyed by audience and band equally as far as I could tell. One of those gigs that makes you go home and relisten to the recorded material with a new enthusiasm which is what I’m doing right now and that can’t be bad!
In for a Kill
Damned and Divine
I Walk Alone
Anteroom of Death
(with Band Outro Solo)
Sing for Me
Victim of Ritual
Wish I Had an Angel (Nightwish cover)
Until My Last Breath
Over the Hills and Far Away (Gary Moore cover)