Tarja – Storm in Europe – 05/23/08 Filderstadt

This will be a comparatively short review, because I can only describe what was played and done on stage. I’ve given this quite some thought, but I don’t find any aspects that could be criticized – this concert by Tarja can only be called perfection. So let’s simply start at the beginning:
With a warning to everyone who is planning on seeing a concert at the FILharmonie Filderstadt: On my Eventim- ticket it says that the address is: Tübinger Straße 40, 70794 Stuttgart – Filderstadt. Thus we typed into the navigation system „Tübinger Straße 40, Stuttgart, which was found and we drove off. When we arrived, it became aparent that this was not a street where a concert hall would be – ever – and No. 40 was a gym. Thus we had to ask passengers and finally learnt that contrary to the completely missleading mention on our tickets Filderstadt is not a district of Stuttgart, but an entirely independent town a couple of kilometers outside of Stuttgart. So we entered ‚Tübinger Straße 40, Filderstadt’ into the system and what do you know – another hit! So – pretty much pissed off – we started another 20 minute drive and finally found the FILharmonie in Filderstadt OUTSIDE of Stuttgart!! Dear Eventim staff, I can’t believe you!! Why on earth did you mention the city of Stuttgart right behind the postal code?! Let Filderstadt live!! It is a nice city with a great concert hall – they don’t need Stuttgart!!
Thanks to all that CRAP we did not arrive until 5 minutes after the beginning of the concert. The SCHEDULED beginning that is. 😀 Because the support group “Passionworks” did appear until 40 minutes later – and it was not worth the wait. The singer was wearing a brown fur hat with bear’s ears (I’m serious!!) and all the songs were more or less indistinguishable. The only song that caught our attention with a catchy melody and more diverse composition was ‘Falling’. This song topped the Finnish charts at the time.
I don’t think I’m risking too much when concluding from the audience’s reaction that most people were not actually thrilled by Passionworks.


The more we were now looking forward to Tarja. Forward to a time far in the future… because again we waited for about thirty minutes. :-) At least we were able to sit during that time, because the FILharmonie is normally concert hall with seating. That made it a bit more comfortable. :-) I really have to say the place was great. Apparently they also show concerts from other genres and musicals there, you know, occasions where people sit. 😉 There were ranks, where rows of seats could be embedded and the floor was parquet. Of course that is not ideal for a metal concert, but in Baden-Württemberg it is forbidden to smoke in public buildings anyways and I guess the parquet will not be destroyed by a little fuel. 😉 However, it was a very fancy place and I’m sure Tarja liked it. 😉 The only negative thing was that the right speaker, which was near to us, started to hum in the middle of the show. Luckily this could only be heard in between songs, so it was not a big deal.
The concert started with the title ‘Lost Northern Star’, followed by ‘My little Phoenix’. Tarja, sporting a new stage outfit, welcomed the audience partly in German after that.

Then she invited us to dive into the world of ‘Passion and the Opera’ and thus the first Nightwish- song of the evening was played. I’d like to add a short remark here, because I read a couple of comments on Youtube that went like: „Tarja sings this song amazingly, but the new band is ruining it.” That’s what it sounds like in the video, but I found out it is not true. The band plays the song exactly like Nightwish do, but there are choirs and effects coming out of the speakers that are different. Tarja seems to have realized her own vision of the song here.

Tarja sang ‚Minor Heaven’ next and then disappeared for a short time to slip into the red coat for ‘Nemo’. This song sounded just like the ‘original’ as well and I was quite impressed, Tarja really found herself a couple of great musicians.

They distracted us a little while Tarja threw on the next coat fort he hymn ‘I Walk Alone’.

After that, Tarja’s accompanists played some amazing solos on drum, bass and guitar while she changed again. Each of them is so talented and had so much fun playing for us!

By the way, the same can be said for Tarja. I totally bought her enthusiasm and she carried me along when she came back on stage for ‘Ciaran`s Well’ wearing a corset and long leather gloves. I read that at the beginning she could not adjust to this particular song too well, at least that’s what was said in a review of the Warm Up Tour that I came across. It said after that song she excused herself for the song sort of shyly, saying that was the fastest song of the evening. By now there is nothing left of this uncertainty and she used ‘Ciaran’s Well’ for copious dancing and headbanging, just like many in the audience.

An interesting detail: We were a bit confused to see that there were two drumkits built up on stage. Turns out the normal one is for drummer Mike Terrana and the electronic one on the left for Tarja’s brother Toni Turunen (wow, he sure works out a lot 😉 ). Toni helped out here and there, be it with vocals, playing the guitar or on drums. The Turunen family sure has some offspring with diverse talents. :-)

Tarja told us that she wrote the next song, called ‘Our Great Divide’, by the sea.

After that a song came up that Tarja called ‚an old new one’, by name ‘Over the Hills’ by Nightwish. Then they played ‘The Reign’ and ‘Sing For Me’. For the song ‘Oasis’, Tarja was all alone on stage and played the piano as she sang. The audience rewarded this with some extra applause.

After that the concert turned a bit heavier again and Tarja sang together with her brother Toni the Alice Cooper cover ‘Poison’. After that the last Nightwish song of the evening came up – Wishmaster. Then there was one last costume change, because they were going to play the second single from Tarja’s album ‘My Winterstorm’, which is called ‘Die Alive’.

Around that time we were suddenly surrounded by the ‘Farmer Boys’, the former band of guitarist Alex Scholpp. 😀 As it happens he is from Stuttgart and thus his old collegues paid him a visit at the concert. Maybe I should have said something, because back in the day I used to listen to the Farmer Boys. :-) But I was not entirely sure it was them until I convinced myself back home using the internet.
The next song was Calling Grace. All of a sudden, Tarja turned all melancholy – those of you who know the lyrics understand why – and she said that this (the concert I guess) is her dream and the song is for each of us, because thanks to us it is coming true. She was accompanied only by Max on Cello and Alex on guitar.

I guess the concert was supposed to see its end afterwards, everybody was bowing and Alex had already removed his in-ear-monitors, but people demanded an encore so loudly that they eventually played ‘Phantom of the Opera’. :-)

After that I needed a while to get along with the fact that someone can have such a voice. All this time I had been admiring how she sang so amazingly without showing the slightest sign of effort, but when she sang the Phantom I was simply blown away. I can only recommend Tarja’s concerts to all of you and when she comes back to the area the first ticket will be mine!


Tarja Turunen and Raimo Sirkiä, 07/21/06 Olavinlinna, Savonlinna Finland

Among hundreds of sweaty bodies I cross the bridge and enter the medieval fortress, which is flanked by two watchtowers. The guards at the gate check my permit and finally let me continue my way. After climbing rampant staircases I bump into a maiden dressed in national costume. She graciously gives me directions to the tenebrous depths of the castle’s inner courtyard, where I will be received in audience today…

… by the queen of chant, Finnish soprano Tarja Turunen. Because in the castle, which was built in 1475, has since 1967 regularly been the scene of the world-renowned Savonlinna Opera festivalOlavinlinna castle is deservedly famous for its unique acoustics.

I have come here to see a concert performed by Tarja Turunen and tenor Raimo Sirkiä in cooperation with the Kuopio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riku Niemi. At first, one single show had been scheduled for July 16th, but although the auditorium in the inner courtyard can comprise 2257 spectators, it was sold out a few days later. Consequently, a second show to be performed on July 21st was organized. I was lucky to get hold of a ticket to this one and thus get a chance to assure myself of the ticket- buyers high expectations being justified.

The concert offered a crossover of opera, musical and rock and began with “Così Fan Tutte” by Amadeus Mozart.

The stage entry of the two stars Turunen and Sirkiä was put on marvellously.

Singing “The Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Turunen descended a flight of stairs left- hand of the stage, while Sirkiä appeared on the right side of the stage. After this duet they sang alternately. Turunen performed “Rusalka’s Aria” by Antonín Dvorak, whereupon Sirkiä presented “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla. After that, Turunen intonated “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from the musical Evita. She sang the chorus in Spanish at first, then she just hummed it and finally left it completely to the orchestra, before ending with its English version. Sirkiä’s “Lamento di Federico” from the opera L’ Arlesiana was followed up by Nightwish’s “Moondance” as an instrumental interlude, which had been adorably arranged for the orchestra.

Of course, Turunen and Sirkiä were not upstaged by this, as they themselves presented the Nightwish- classics “Two for Tragedy” and “Angels Fall First”. The reason for this choice is that Tarja Turunen has been the vocalist of Nightwish from 1997 to 2005 and she decided to continue singing her preferred Nightwish- songs in her solo concerts. However, Raimo Sirkiä does not seem to be an admirer of this band as he had to help himself with sheets during the performance of these songs.

The last song before the 20 minute brake was the amazing “Written in the Stars” from the musical Aida by Elton John and Tim Rice. While Turunen and Sirkiä were singing, small light bulbs were lit on the castle wall behind the stage.

Riku Niemi and the Kuopio Symphonic Orchestra opened the second half of the show with the “Intermezzo Sinfonico” from Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni.

Tarja Turunen had changed her clothes for the second half from a black pantsuit to a blue gown. Raimo Sirkiä had drastically changed his looks, too … by losing his jacket!

After Sirkiä’s performance of Leoncavallo and Turunen’s “Somewhere” from the musical “Westside Story”, they sang the duet “There for me” in embrace.

This was followed by another orchestral interlude. The Kuopio Symphony Orchestra played “Freestyler” – yes, exactly, Freestyler by Bomfunk MC’s.  Riku Niemi had rearranged this song for orchestra and it was performed so stirringly, that he almost outranked Turunen and Sirkiä as stars of the show! The conductor proved real show talent by at first tap- dancing, than beating time with two xylophone sticks, of which he had one in his mouth and finally jumping off the stage and continuing to beat time on an iron bar belonging to the audience balustrade!  He did all this with gestures that would have done honour to every clown! Consequently, laughter sounded from the audience.

The concert continued with the probably most bombastic version of “Proud Mary” any conductor has ever drawn from a symphonic orchestra. It was sung by Raimo Sirkiä, accompanied by the also singing Riku Niemi and the singing and dancing Tarja Turunen. The audience was thrilled and shook the castle walls by stomping their feet.  It has often been said by Tarja Turunen in interviews that the Nightwish- Fans only get to know a small part of her actual voice. Up to know I never really got what she ment by that. But since I heard her sing Lauretta’s Aria (O mio babbino caro) by Puccini I just have to admit she is right! Her vocal performance of this song was literally breathtaking!

According to the program the final song of the concert was supposed to be “Beauty of the Beast” by Nightwish. For this, 8 members of the Opera Festival Choir – 4 female, 4 male – stepped on the stairhead on the right hand side of the stage. Again, the audience was carried away by the bombastic performance of the Orchestra, Tarja Turunen’s dramatic voice and also some dancing of hers.  In my opinion this was the perfect ending to a perfect concert, but I was wrong…

Turunen and Sirkiä surprised their audience with an encore – “Brindisi” from “La Traviata”.

While singing it, Tarja Turunen remounted the flight of stairs she had descended at the beginning during “Phantom of the Opera”, creating a harmonic ending.

All musicians were highly acknowledged with applause.

After the concert, most visitors left castle’s courtyard immediately, except of some fans of Tarja’s, who wanted to take the opportunity of meeting their star. Finally, Tarja appeared with her husband Marcelo Cabuli. As he left the scene carrying Tarja’s luggage and a bouquet of roses, which had been presented to Tarja on stage, she took her time to patiently talk to the fans, write autographs and pose for photos. I had a chance to speak to her, too and asked her (not too creatively) when she would make her next stage appearance in Germany – after all I had travelled 1600 km to see her! She answered she was planning some concerts in Germany for next year! Well, I guess we have something to look forward to!

Tarja Turunen and Raimo Sirkiä in front of Olavinlinna

Olavinlinna is on a lake.

Tarja Turunen

with fans

After the show: Tarja meets up with her waiting fans, husband Marcelo carries her flowers and luggage.

Hartwall Areena Helsinki: On October 21, 2005 the

legendary last show of Nightwish with Tarja

Turunen took place here in front of 11.500 spectators.

My shadow.