Review Summary: Best experienced through the DVD, as with most live releases.
It's rather interesting that the "era" is referred to on Nightwish's End of an Era
CD/DVD release for Tarja's final release with the band. Though it's clearly symbolic of her departure from the band, the band hadn't even been together for a decade up to the point of the recorded show. But with five solid studio albums, a cast of talented musicians and more than enough audience members in-attendance, Nightwish fans (such as I) who never got to see them with Tarja have been left with this End of an Era
as the presently-best option.
As mentioned, the final performance with Tarja in Nightwish is available as either a (dual) CD, DVD or a combo of both. Needless to say, the best value lies in the latter. And though this did turn out to be a swan song for the band's still-embraced lead singer, the show present was in promotion of the then-recently released album, Once
. And while it would be expected to see a good chunk of the album in the performance, it's almost performed in entirety (albeit fragmented). The only tracks from the said album which don't appear are "Dead Gardens," "Romanticide" and "Higher Than Hope". Additionally, not all of the songs performed were originally done by the band themselves. Take the eighteen song track listing into account, and one begins to see how heavily Once
Consequently, this release will probably satisfy the bigger fans of the aforementioned album more than anyone else. It's a shame too, since we don't get excellent pieces such as "Come Cover Me," "The Pharaoh Sails to Orion" or anything off of Angels Fall First
. Some of the inclusions are welcome, however, including "Bless the Child," "Ever Dream" (which has been given a nice, altered intro) and "Wishmaster". On a more curious note, we're treated to a cover outside of "Phantom of the Opera" with "High Hopes," originally done by Pink Floyd. While Marco Hietala has an unremarkable and even less inspiring voice, he gives us one of his better performances here. The other peculiar inclusion is John Two-Hawks' "Stone People," used as a precursor in the concert to "Creek Mary's Blood". It's a different and nice touch, which will give even long-time Nightwish fans something different to look forward to.
Since End of an Era
is available on both CD and DVD formats, one can only be curious as to how experiencing it either way differs from the other. As it turns out (not surprisingly), the performance is much more enjoyable when watching in addition to hearing. It's not just the fact that the show is visually available, but a concert always feels much more appropriate through speakers, even if those on a TV itself, than via earbuds or a headset. If you simply listen to the album, much of the experience feels dwindled, leaving the quality inconsistent between the two formats.
Though the shortcomings of the setlist have already been addressed, the quality of the performance(s) is quite solid and, thankfully, one of the better Nightwish shows you'll find. Tarja and Tuomas steal the show here (until Two-Hawk comes on for a couple tracks), though everyone appears to have had a great time at this final tour show. Similar to "Ever Dream," the band's cover of "The Phantom of the Opera" also got an altered introduction (for the better), and little liberties taken such as this are a welcoming change of pace.
End of an Era
does feel a bit abrupt and one-sided for the final live performance with original singer Tarja, even if the tour was in-support of the then-new album. The cracks of the concert show most when heard strictly through the ear, but are very easy to forget when watching (especially for the first time). If the band retained their most familiar line-up to this day, then End of an Era
would be a fairly negligible consideration. However, given skeptical indications of what direction the band might be heading after the mixed bag that was Dark Passion Play
, this probably is the best chance for some to experience the band at their prime.