Having just gotten home from performing a show in Ukraine – one cancelled flight later – it was a perfect time for one of Metal’s finest vocalists, Tarja Turunen, to reflect on the shows that will soon be immortalized in her upcoming live Blu-ray, DVD, CD and LP release, ‘Act II.’ Turunen is bright and bubbly as she explains that despite the terrible journey home, the Ukrainian shows and audience were amazing, before moving on to discuss how ‘Act II’ is a different beast to ‘Act I.’

“There are many differences I would say,” Turunen reflects, “because ‘Act I’ was a live album representing the two first studio albums. And then, I was very pregnant,” she laughs. “I was five months pregnant with my baby. Being shot in Argentina, the country where I was living at the time – I used to live in Buenos Aires for almost ten years,” she adds almost wistfully. “The local audiences embraced me. It was a very powerful, emotional audience in general, the Argentinian audience. It was a very beautiful opera theatre at the time when we filmed that show. Now after all these years, working with ‘Act II,’ that is representing the three last studio records. I made it on purpose in that sense, in that I really don’t want to repeat myself too much when it comes to the songs. Also I want people to see where I am standing at, at the moment as an artist. That’s why I really worked very hard for the video editing. We’ve been doing a lot of work in post-production involving a lot of effects and all that, because I felt like presenting it in a very artistic way this time, more than only a live concert that you usually get from everybody with a live concert on a tape. But I wanted to do something special.

“I feel very confident nowadays in my career,” Turunen muses, “and I feel very blessed by having the group of people I’m working with. They are such good people, great talents. But good people, that’s important for me, as well as the talent. But having had all that, and a lot of material in my hands, obviously, I had to work a lot because there are two live concerts in this ‘Act II.’ So one in London Metropolis Studios, and the other in Milano, but there are also two festivals that were shot in Woodstock, Poland and Hellfest, France. So a lot of mixing, a lot of audio, a lot of video, a lot of editing, a lot of… Oh, we’re through!” Turunen laughs in wry relief, recalling the moment of finally wrapping work on the post-production. “It took months, but I am super happy with the final result.”

The London show was a particularly special one, with Turunen performing to just 20 lucky fans. “I think it was one of the best events I’ve ever performed in,” she recalls sincerely, “or ever been involved with. I mean really, I would love to be able to have opportunities to have events like that happening in my life, because it was right there, a huge challenge in front of us. People might not understand how it is to perform for some thousands of people every night, and then for a handful of people the next night. It’s terrifying, actually,” Turunen admits frankly. “It’s terrifying, the fact that there are only those 20 hardcore fans listening to your music for the first time, listening to those songs for the first time. We played, in that teeny-tiny studio, songs from the new album for the first time ever. We really enjoyed it so much. And I could feel that when I was working on the video editing and the mixing, and all that.”

As for the big Milan show that forms the core of the release, Turunen adds, “Again I would say Milan was amazing, but I would say that the highlight was the acoustic performance at the show, because there I can really enjoy playing music with my musicians without any plectrums or stands or anything, you know? We just sit down, we breathe, and we go. Every time we play an acoustic set is different. It might not have been the best acoustic set we ever played in Milan, but every night is different. It could be the fact that somebody plays a different speed, a different tempo, or I breathe differently, we feel differently. The audience is different in every country, every culture is changing. But that moment is always beautiful.

“And the other moment, I have to tell you,” she says conspiratorially and with laugher, “you cannot see this, I took it off in the video editing because it was a mistake. I was holding a camera in one of the songs called Demons in You, one of the rocking songs, and you could see me jumping with the camera in my hand, so you can see the audience and the musicians. So the first take in the show, we found the camera didn’t work. We got to the middle of the song before I realised, ‘Oh shit, my camera isn’t working.’ I had to stop the song, and I said to the audience, ‘Okay, well, yeah, we’re recording a DVD and I want it to be pitch perfect and I want to see you through my camera!’ They go nuts about it. They all jumped up and they enjoyed the moment when we took the song again, and that’s what you can see in the video. So it was a really nice moment that they could feel we are just human. We make mistakes too, we are not perfect. No one is perfect. And I’ve never felt it my live concerts that kind of thing. It’s more than performing perfect, it about being able to perform with your heart and pouring out the emotion that’s in you. That’s the most important, not the perfection.”

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