Tonight`s show withsymphonic goth power metal soprano Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen-Cabuli has been on the back burner for the last two and a half years due to the worldwide pandemic so it was with nervous anticipation we entered what has to be, in my opinion, one of he best music venues in this country.
Italian melodic power metal quintet Temperance are the main support and make the most of their half hour slot with a well presented and well received set. The band have undergone some line-up changes so tonight comprised Marco Pastorino (vocals/guitar), Luca Negro (bass), Alfonso Mocerino (drums), Michele Guaitoli (vocals) and Alessia Scolletti (vocals). The band have three lead singers (two male, one female) which makes for an interesting presentation as all three interweaved on stage. There were tracks from their most recent album `Diamanti` with the mesmerising `Pure Life Unfolds`, powerful `Breaking the Rules of Heavy Metal` and ballad like title track `Diamanti` which i`m sure was partly sung in Italian. The stand out track for me was the edgy `Of Jupiter and Moons` which seemed to close the set out although all the band came to the front of the stage to sing `Catch the Dream` over a backing tape of the track as the audience sang and clapped along. This troupe have been around for a decade now so it`s unsurprising that they won over the audience this evening. A group I’ll certainly be looking to catch again.
Firstly, let`s address the elephant in the room, Tarja was the vocalist in Nightwish from 1996 to 2005 and recorded five albums with the band. Since her departure she has released seven solo albums with the latest `In The Raw`
The band members who include Alex Scholpp (guitar and vocals) ,Doug Wimbish (bass), Christian Kretschmar (keyboards), Alex Holzwarth (drums) and Max Lilja (cello) individually take to the stage to begin what is `Serene` from the latest release as Tarja joins them on stage and the venue erupts. As the singer takes us back in time with `Demons in You` she screams “let`s rock tonight” and for the next ninety odd minutes that`s exactly what she did.
Songs like the edgy `My Little Phoenix` and `Anteroom of Death` which opens with a harpsicord tinged sound certainly highlighted this artist`s stunning three and a half octave range. `Goodbye Stranger` and `Silent Masquerade` from the latest release followed with the former allowing the band to showcase their skills and the later a fairly reflective musing. The only Nightwish track `Wishmaster` rings out before the band depart and the singer sits alone at a keyboard and shares `The Golden Chamber (Loputon Yo – You and I)` which I have to say, for me, was quite emotive, thought provoking and wonderfully heartfelt.
The homestretch includes the reflective `Undertaker` where Tarja almost seemed to glide across the stage, blistering `Tears in Rain` before closing with `Victim of Ritual` with it`s almost military cadence soaked throughout.
It doesn`t take long before the faithful encourage the band to return, which they do and share a further four tracks, These included the tense `I Walk Alone` where the cello leant this song a further sense of poignancy. Also, `Dead Promises` which allowed lead guitarist Alex Scholpp to not only emphasise his superb guitar skills but also trade vocals with the singer on this scorching number.
I have to say the final number `Until My Last Breath` was astounding and the icing on the cake on this really phenomenal performance. I came away bursting with adrenalin and really wanting to see this show again.
Tarja has just two more shows in the UK over the weekend in Manchester and London before heading across Europe so if you want to catch this stunning show, you need to act quickly.
Welcome back Tarja, you have been missed.
All photos by Rich Ward