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Tarja - Luna Park Ride

Tarja - CD Review
Luna Park Ride

Tarja - Luna Park Ride



CD Info
15 Tracks
Ear Music Official
English Lyrics
C. 8.0/10
Justin: 8.5/10

EarMusic has decided to release an older Tarja live album, to perhaps fill the void that exists between now and eventual release of Tarja’s fourth solo album. Two of our writers, both Justin and C., weigh in on whether Tarja’s newest live album release Luna Park Ride is worth your time and consideration, particularly if you are a self-proclaimed fan of Tarja’s solo work.

Both of their reviews, unfortunately, only reflect their feelings on the first disk of a two-disk release. For some reason, both reviewers only received the first album for a trial; therefore, their feelings on this album are fairly limited, in terms of overall scope. So if you were wondering where any mention of a second disk was in both review portions below, you can be reassured that they were not unintentionally forgotten in the process of writing the review.


What Lies Beneath Tour; initially, this live performance was offered as a limited edition bonus disc on her Act 1 DVD. Originally, only a few songs were featured on the disc, but here you get the entire live concert in audio. Sound-wise, the quality is somewhat lacking. The drums are turned up a little too loud and drown out Tarja's voice in some parts. A few parts of the songs sound muffled as well. Some of the songs sounded sloppy in their delivery; I'm not sure if this is the mix of the album or if this is how the band plays, so I'll try not to give it too harsh a criticism.


That being said, Tarja sounds great. Just as in her Nightwish days, she doesn't sound much different in her live performances than she does in the studio. The audience in her "adopted home country" of Argentina embodies all the passionate enthusiasm that is characteristic of both South American metal fans and of Tarja fans in general. You can hear the crowd singing along loudly at times, and talking in-between songs. She sounds very energetic on tracks like "Little Lies" and "Ciaran's Well," and emotional on tracks like "Underneath". However, the Nightwish songs fall a little short. On "Stargazers", the verses sound like she is just speeding through them, and while she delivers the goods for the most part on the chorus, the overall delivery falls flat; especially now that Nightwish has brought the same song back to the setlist and Floor Jansen has completely knocked it out of the park. The band plays the song well, but it lacks that punch that Nightwish has. The middle part doesn't have that majestic bombast that Tuomas pulls off so well.

The songs showcase an array of gems from her solo career as well as her time with Nightwish; everything from her well-known "hits" like "I Walk Alone" and "Die Alive"; as well as the unreleased song "The Crying Moon", and some cover songs such as the Spanish-language "Signos" and a medley containing some '80s classics and the cover of "Where Were You Last Night?" that she recorded with Nightwish (this is a chance for Tarja and the audience to interact and get energetic, and the choice of songs were perfect, the way they seamlessly blend into each other as if they are one cohesive track). Speaking of which, the Nightwish-era songs are few and far between: besides "Stargazers", the only Nightwish song to make an appearance on this album was a sure crowd-pleaser: the fan-favorite "Wishmaster", where she really pulls out the stops and does all the high notes flawlessly.

For this review, we're only going over the first disc, which is the Luna Park performance from her What Lies Beneath Tour. The second disc apparently features newer material from her Colours in the Dark album. Considering that this performance from Luna Park was featured as a limited edition bonus disc for her Act 1 DVD, there isn't much here that you haven't already heard on Act 1, except maybe the "Signos" cover and "Stargazers". I would like to hear the second disc and compare/contrast the shared songs on both discs so as to see what differences there has been in the music between both tours; as well as to hear the newer songs in a live setting.

I feel like I've been nit-picking through this entire review, so I feel I must say some positive things about the album before I close; because overall this recording does successfully capture the energy of Tarja's live shows, and the angelic beauty of her iconic voice. She's still got it, as the saying goes; even if on the Nightwish-era songs it clearly sounds as though she just goes through the motions, they still sound good overall, and any fan who never got to see her perform with her former band will certainly not walk away feeling slighted. Tarja's voice is still strong, it's still lovely, and it still has the ability to enchant and captivate the listener.

This performance also beautifully showcases Tarja's special bond with her Argentinian audience; it's clear that the country has become home to her, and the audience loves her as much there as they do in her native Finland. Tarja speaks in fluent Spanish to the audience, and they all cheer and sing along to every song. It's easy to take for granted that Tarja is a beloved idol everywhere she goes, but this album really shows that she has a special place among her South American fans, especially those in Argentina, who have taken her into their hearts and made her one of their own. Maybe one day she will expand her "Luna Park Ride” type concert experience all the way to her North American audience, who hasn't had the pleasure of seeing her perform live since 2009. Until then, we'll always have recordings such as these to refer to whenever we want to get the experience of a Tarja solo concert.

Rating: 8 of 10


As previously stated by C., I found the sound balance overall to be lacking to a certain degree on this album, as if the volume of the drums was turned up too loud. This goes right along with certain dips in sound within some of the songs, where the heavy bass sound of the bass guitar becomes overstated, drowning out even the precious bombast of Tarja’s operatic vocals. Perhaps, this is how things sounded, if the unrefined, Tarja’s Luna Park Ride concert recording, receives minimal or passable refining, thus never really becoming a truly remastered live album. The quality of the recording detracted from my score somewhat.

Regardless of these criticisms about problems with the sound balance of the album, the concert as a whole is both energetic and mostly enjoyable, even if the concert itself is a far older concert than the Act 1 Tarja concert, made available on DVD approximately two or three years ago. I don’t want my opinion of the potential financial motives as to why this live album was finally released after all this time to meddle with my overall score because that might be conjecture that’s too far-reaching.

Nonetheless, it is a very good concert, and it is a clear example of Tarja’s skill and talent, as a well-established solo artist, who can thrive in the music world without a larger band to support her prodigious stature as a vocalist. Throughout this live performance, her voice is unflagging in its sheer strength and impressive energy, even if it does at times show some moments of a certain overwrought quality, as though Tarja sometimes seems to overdo a certain predictable string of high soprano notes to garnish her songs with just a little more theatricality than is necessary. This is a signature move on her part, though, that imprints her songs with a recognizable Tarja trademark. But sometimes, I wish there was a little less of it, but this is a very minor point for the most part, given the overall level of talent she obviously has in the vocal department.

Her recent album, the best thus far in her career, Colours of the Dark has proven that Tarja has a lot more artistic and musical versatility, as many of the songs of that album fittingly cover the spectrum of different musical styles. Certainly, the stronger tracks in this live album are mostly from her second album, What Lies Beneath, a far better album than the largely lackluster first album My Winter Storm.

Performed live, standout songs like “Underneath,” from the album What Lies Beneath hold an even stronger emotive pull, when performed live, and this convincing emotive pull of her voice in ballads like “Underneath” demonstrate Tarja’s magnetic appeal as a talented vocalist. Other songs that I felt were even better live include the heart-pounding, incessantly frantic James Bond- inspired anthem “In For a Kill,” right along with one of the lead singles of her second album “Until My Last Breath.” Both songs are far more diverse and stylistically interesting than some of the My Winter Storm tracks like the slightly catchy, though mostly underwhelming “Die Alive,” and the rather unappealing, dark, heavy-toned track “Ciaran Well” that tries too hard to sound faux nu-metal. Vocally, Tarja exemplifies a deft handle in both these songs, but the structure of them is largely uninteresting, and lacks any of the far more fascinating, meaningful undertones of theme and motion present in songs from What Lies Beneath.

Essentially, my opinions of these tracks mostly stem from my own preconceived feelings about these songs from the recorded albums themselves. Tarja’s live concerts, along with a very boisterous, enthusiastic Argentinean crowd, really help lift some of the more mediocre songs from the doldrums of mediocrity, and breathe new life into them, even if they are still dull tracks at their core, at least from my perspective. As to a review of the live performance overall , I must commend Tarja and her live instrumental players for being so damnably energetic and clearly showing the signs through their excellent, enthused playing that they are very much having a hell of a time playing for a crowd of fans that truly appreciate Tarja’s live performances. The drum player Mike Terana, in particular, may be one of my top five favorite drummers. Tarja is lucky to have such a drummer with such impeccable, distinct talent. That is probably why she released a live album that she collaborated with him on, about a year or so ago. It is a pity that the inept sound balancing of this album greatly reduces the balanced clarity that we’d expect from a far more professional sort of recording, which otherwise could have made Mike’s drum-playing sound far more cleaner and impressive.

Putting my own biased opinions of different tracks from different albums aside, I really found myself enjoying Luna Park Ride, in lieu of all the sound-balance imperfections. Personally, the album could have been given another heavy duty round of better sound-balancing, as whoever is in charge of producing this album did a pretty poor job with really bringing out some of the crystal-clear moments of excellent music being presented at live concerts, such as Tarja’s Luna Park Ride concert.

It is not a live album that is anywhere near as refined as the superior Act 1 album, but hardcore, fervid Tarja fans will want to make sure to add this relic to their expanding library of CDs from Tarja’s continually evolving solo career. Regardless of sound balance issues and some mixed, subjective feelings about the quality of a few of the tracks being performed, Luna Park Ride is still a fine, mostly solid live album. If you don’t have too many high expectations as to the quality of the recording or the tracks being selected for the setlist, I think you’ll end up really enjoying this album.

Rating 7.5/10