So on Wednesday, me and my lovely friend Charlie (of Charlett Creative) went to see the one and only Tarja in London's Shepherds Bush Empire. We got their pretty early and managed a good spot in the queue, so we sat and ate takeaway/chatted to random other nice people around us. [Random aside: one thing I found strange was the large amount of men at the concert - I saw a guy who looked at least 50 wearing a MFVF t-shirt, and I was so jealous!]When they finally let us in, we ran and grabbed tour shirts (£20 tour shirts, eek!) and then in for the concert...
I'm not sure who was responsible for the sound during Solsikk's set, but the sounds all seemed to run together, so I honestly couldn't tell you what their music was like. I did get an impression of their singer though - she looked like a mini Angela Gossow, and had (from what I managed to hear) and excellent voice which seemed to range from soft to growly to almost operatic, often within the same song. Her attitude was a bit strange though; she was seemingly trying to act cool but came across as totally unbothered, especially with her "You can get our stuff on iTunes... if you want...". Also, despite their praise of Tarja, I swear I saw the band leaving before her set even began... I may be wrong, and they may have come back to watch, but it seemed a bit weird.
Markize had slightly better sound, but again I didn't get much impression of what they were about. Their singer was sweet and I did enjoy her slightly mental costume. They certainly seemed promising, and they're on Spotify, so I'll probably check them out. We were also pretty amused by their metal Lady Gaga cover - I swear they were playing Muse's 'Time Is Running Out' as the guitar riff, anyone else notice that?
Anyway, by the time the support band had finished we were practically begging for Tarja to come on, and about half an hour later...
Tarja was on top form, both sounding and looking beautiful - although I have to say, as much as I admire her style, three costume changes was really unnecessary! She was her usual charismatic self though, grinning and throwing the metal horns at every opportunity. The set was heavy on her latest What Lies Beneath material, and as I love the album, I was pretty happy about that. She did the singles from My Winter Storm though, as well as Ciarán's Well, some acoustic versions and My Little Phoenix. Although she sang Phoenix well, I've never been a big fan, and I would have preferred something else from MWS.
The big surprise for me came when, after a beautiful and emotionally sung rendition of Underneath, the band started up End of All Hope. I was so shocked I actually cried a little. :P This probably seems ridiculous to you, but after reading other setlists on the net I had been expecting something from an earlier Nightwish album, and End of All Hope was actually the first NW song I ever heard. So I was there mouthing every word and feeling very happy!
There was an interesting interlude where drummer Mike Terrana did a massive drum solo complete with stick-twirling. It was pretty awesome, and my dad would have loved it (he's a drummer), but again it almost felt like the only purpose was for Tarja get changed!
For the encore, Tarja signed off with a big covers medley which Charlie loved, along with Until My Last Breath and Die Alive. I'd never been a big fan of Die Alive, but I think I finally got it as Tarja sang - it brought new meaning for me.
Tarja received a big standing ovation on the balcony for her efforts (along with several roses and a Finland flag from members of the crowd!) She appeared to be very sweet, endlessly thanking the audience and giving hugs to the band members. ^_^
Overall it was an outstanding effort, and I felt privileged to hear Tarja's beautiful voice. It hasn't diminished my love for Nightwish at all, but I now feel closer to Tarja's music. It made it worth the expensive/annoying trip to London, even with the long bus ride home after the train got cancelled!
(Sorry about the slightly evil faces, we were trying not to blink at the flash :P)