You want Tarja? We’ll give you Tarja!
We’ll give you a threefold spread of all things Tarja-shaped, spearheaded by a live (fan-filmed) DVD from Argentina’s gargantuan Luna Park, and flanked by audio CD and bonus live tracks. The 70-minute CD of ‘bonus material’ takes us back to live dates in Europe, via the emotionally charged likes of 500 Letters and deliciously groovy hard rocker Neverlight. But it’s the live Luna Park set that’s the most revealing. Now based in Buenos Aires herself, the high priestess of symphonic prog is essentially playing to a home crowd here. Amidst her own material she even includes a cover of local rockers Soda Stereo, in Spanish. The rapture that greets the ex-Nightwisher’s career-spanning set – cries of ‘¡Te amo!’ (‘I love you!’) etc come thicker and faster as the show progresses – are a clear marker of just what a key player she has become in the international rise of symphonic rock. Tarja’s unashamedly classical soprano tones are lapped up unquestioningly. She’s accompanied by nu-prog synth blasts, crunching metal guitar work and grandiose, almost Dream Theater-like tones in the likes of Falling Awake and Stargazer. The fan-filmed camera work from Luna Park Ride has good and bad points. You do get used to it, but a little less hand-held, from-the-mosh-pit footage would have been good. Conversely, the slick audio mix, by Robert Plant man Tim Palmer, is excellent. Still, Tarja’s popularity with the crowd is cemented when she emerges for an encore having swapped the leathery outfits for Argentina’s football strip. Ultimately, for anyone under the illusion that symphonic prog is the preserve of Nordic and Scandinavian hobbits, Luna Park Ride provides bombastic evidence to the contrary. From Europe to South America, a lot of people love it.