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While in high school I had my first experience with the metal community by discovering 80s Glam Metal. This was my introduction to the bigger world of metal music that was coming my way. But while I was getting into big hair, bright colors, and spandex, most of my friends discovered a metal community on the other side of the pond. Listening to European power metal and symphonic metal with bands like Kamelot, Apocalyptica, Sonata Arctica, and the biggest one of them all Nightwish. Riding in the car with my friends, I was indoctrinated into the fanbase of these amazing artists. Specifically hearing the beauty and power that comes from Nightwish’s original vocalist Tarja Turunen was mind blowing and eye opening to what a metal vocalist could sound like. Years later, I have not forgotten those car rides but felt I was missing out experiencing Tarja live. When Tarja announced the Living the Dream Tour and it had a stop in California, I knew I was ready to hear this beautiful voice I have been hearing ring in my ears since High School.

Opening the night was a Swiss band called Chaoseum (stylized as Chaosevm). Blending the sound of Nu-metal and metalcore, along with gothic attire and corpse paint, Chaosevm was a unique exciting experience I was not ready for, but completely on board with. Vocalist CK Smile had an almost Heath Ledger Joker vibe to him with a painted on Glasgow Smile, and embodying the stage persona of Jonathan Davis with his gestures. Combining these two unlikely aspects created a stage character that was captivating to watch. Guitarist Valery Veings carried himself with a more stoic aspect to him but brought some of the most bouncing riffs of the night, causing the heads in the crowd to bang. Drummer Greg Turini was a chaotic ball of energy behind the drum kit as he came crashing down on his cymbals and snare. The fact that his drum kit didn’t explode from the sheer power he plays with, I consider a miracle. CHaosevm has a solid set consisting of songs like “Unreal,” “I, Sexy Zombie,” “Dance On My Grave,” “Smile Again,” “Until the End,” and ending with “My Wonderland.” As Chaosevm played through their set, you could hear the influence of the heyday of nu-metal and it’s great to see nu-metal making a comeback from bands all over the world.

Finally, it was time all of the operatic metal fans have been waiting for. Opening the night with “Eye of the Storm,” Tarja Turunen came bounding onto the stage with explosive energy. Before the first notes could be heard coming from her, she was already dancing and throwing devil horns out unto the crowd. As Tarja’s soprano voice range through the speakers, I was transported back to high school first hearing Nightwish through my buddies original iPod. Her voice sounded just as beautiful as I always knew it was, and the power she carries with it could be heard across the street from the venue. Moving through her set list with songs like “Demons in You,” “Falling Awake,” “Diva,” and “Naiad” Tarja kept the energy up rocking from edge to edge of the stage and pointing out people in the crowd making them feel so special. Tarja is not just a talented singer, but proficient on a keyboard as well. Slowing down the energy a bit, but keep the amazement in the crowd, a keyboard was brought out for Tarja to accompany herself on the songs “Oasis/You and I” and “Shadow Play.” Most people know of Tarja through her former band Nightwish, and she took a moment to thank everyone for continuing to support her throughout her career with the band, and then continuing while she goes solo. As the band launched into the Nightwish classic “Nemo” a mosh pit opened for Tarja, as the fans went crazy, and the energy never died back down from that moment. Finishing the set with a four song encore including “Innocence,” “Die Alive,” “Dead Promises,” and ultimately “Until My Last Breath.”

High School Matt was very pleasantly pleased to be hearing a voice he has been listening to for over 15 years. Time has been so gracious to Tarja as she is still beautiful and armed with a show stopping voice that still sounds amazing live as it does on record. I can’t thank my friends Alan Lee and Tobias Thorne enough for forcing me to listening to new amazing music growing up, or I don’t think I would have every had the chance to experience an amazing performer like Tarja. 


Matt Martinez

Editor - Orange County

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