What can be more pleasant than walking through the beautiful gardens of Arcen Castle, enjoying good music and to see all those people dressed like elves, wizards or movie creatures?
Right, nothing! So, I undertook the long journey to the south part of our Low Lands very near the border with Germany.
The organizing committee (both Dutch and German) was lucky with such a nice sunny day but everything else was well organized and there were lots of stalls with medieval weapons, dresses,
jewelry, music etcetera and of course lots of different foods.
There were shows of "Nazgul", the dark riders on horseback, a Star Trek spectacle, movies, workshops and demonstrations of birds of prey and medieval dances. In the castle displays of artworks, books and so on, often presented by the creators themselves. To cut a long story short: an amazing variety of things to see and lots of things to do.
Imagine you are wandering through gardens and you see Gandalf or Dark Vader in an unexpected corner near a waterfall…..
My main interest, how else could it be, were the bands appearing on the big stage.
Really the only dissonant to my knowledge was not sticking to the timetable of the appearing artists:
victims of circumstance were the guys in Lacrimas Profundere who were sent off the stage after just half an hour.
Both band and crowd were disappointed.
So, after seeing the soundcheck by the backing band of headliner Tarja Turunen,
about 2 hours later than scheduled there were Die Piraten a joyful bunch dressed like pirates and presenting a bunch of folkloristic songs in a rock version, such as My Bonny is over the Ocean.
Cheerful and uplifting but no real "body" in their music.
Next on stage were Esha Ness, a nice combination of folk, pop and rock with a singer/songwriter twist.
At the end of the afternoon time for some more heavy music: Adivarius, with a mix between folk and metal, greatly appreciated by the crowd.
Next in line, mixing synthi-pop with metal, it was the turn of the British singer Lahannya.
Dressed in a rubber-like outfit, all kinds of artificial dreadlocks in her hair, mostly blue, she was an extraordinary stage personality.
The riffs were nice and the electronics coming from a backing "tape" sounded quite good but although Lahannya has a cute face, her vocal abilities were not impressive in my opinion.
It was already shimmering light when Lacrimas Profundere hit the stage: low lights, dark music but a good combination of heavy metal with a gothic touch, heavy, gloomy but melodic.
As said they were just on their way to building up a climax when they were asked to leave the stage.
It was dark and the crowd were now hundreds of people when former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen appeared and the response of all spectators was overwhelming, no doubt whatsoever about her popularity!
With a mixture of songs from her debut album and some Nightwish songs, she played the audience with such an ease she certainly wasn’t able to do in her first years with Nightwish!
She even did a new song accompanying herself on the keyboard.
Backing her were:
Mike Terrana - Drums (Masterplan, Savage Circus, ex Rage, ex Malmsteen)
Christian Kretschmar - Keyboards (Schiller)
Oliver Holzwarth - Bass (Blind Guardian, ex Sieges Even)
Alex Scholpp - Guitar (ex Farmer Boys)
Max Lilja Cello - (Hevein, ex Apocalyptica)
With this experienced outfit it was a feast for both eye and ear, although every spotlight seemed to be pointed at Tarja during almost the whole show.
Clearly one of the reasons why Tuomas Holopainen wanted another singer, was Tarja’s desire to use solely her soprano voice.
Although I still think a soprano matches Nightwish’s music perfectly, I can imagine a bit of variation would be welcome.
During this show it was a display of her trained soprano voice which didn’t do justice to the Nightwish songs,
but having said that as my personal view, it was her interpretation of those songs that night and she has every right to sing them "her way".
The charming handsome lady on stage was in great form though and the show ended after ona and a half hours of good music, which should have lasted at least a half hour more,
according to all enthusiastic reactions from the crowd.
I really hope there will come a day that Nightwish and Turunen join forces again because this combination works much better for me.
A perfect day had come to an end and the only show of Turunen in the Netherlands was over, and it felt a bit like "I Walk Alone", when I made my way to my car and drove back to my hometown Almelo.
The fair however was held on the Sunday too.
Main act on this day was Qntal, a German trio with vocalist Syrah, mingling medieval music, a classically trained vocalist and electronics, most certainly of interest to a lot of our readers.
Another Elf Fantasy Fair will be held in Haarzuilens near Utrecht on April 24/25 in 2010.
My Little Phoenix
She Is My Sin
I Walk Alone
Tired Of Being Alone
Lost Northern Star
If You Believe
Sing For Me
Deep Silent Complete