By Stevie Connor. Photo Credit: Elsa Wellamo.
Some may argue that music is born in the studio, but it comes to life and evolves when performed live on stage. With a live album, there is no safety net. You get one shot at capturing those perfect moments and preserving them forever.
With the pandemic now firmly in our rear-view mirror Erja Lyytinen and her band have been touring relentlessly. With the high-flying Finn in top form, the artist decided to capture the magic of their live performances on their new concert album, Diamonds on the Road - Live 2023.
Speaking about the new live album, Lyytinen said: “When playing live, you’ve got one moment to get it right, and then the moment is gone. There is no correcting stuff later. It is very raw and exciting to play and sing at the same time. The adrenaline runs through your body, and everything around you affects your performance.”
The release marks Erja Lyytinen’s fourth live album, and follows on from Songs from the Road, Live in London, and Lockdown Live. The new album is the first concert release from the gifted guitarist to capture the post-Covid live experience.
“Diamonds on the Road was recorded towards the end of our Spring tour in March 2023,” says Erja. “We played ten shows in a row, of which eight were sold out. The band had a good flow going, and the songs were rolling nicely.”
Since pandemic restrictions were lifted, the artist has graced the stages of venues and festivals across Europe and beyond. Unlike Lockdown Live, which captured a key moment in time during the pandemic, the artist’s new double live album highlights the joys of once again being able to perform in front of a sold-out crowd.
“Compared to our previous live recording Lockdown Live, which was filmed and recorded as a streaming gig without an actual audience during the first two months of the pandemic in 2020, this was quite different with an interactive crowd,” reflects Erja. “The show took place at Rytmikorjaamo, Seinäjoki, in the Western part of Finland. On the night of the recording, people were enjoying the live performance, cheering to the solos, dancing, and having a good time together next to each other.”
The first single to be released from the new live album is You Talk Dirty. Speaking about the track Erja said: "You Talk Dirty was originally released for the first time 20 years ago on my first recording.” The song was given a new lease of life on the artist’s last studio album Waiting for The Daylight. However, the track has become a live favourite also for the Queen of the Slide Guitar. “It is my favourite live track. I get to play loud guitar, using my Whammy up and down a whole step-up in the most critical places, to create this heavy doom effect. My guitar playing has gotten heavier since Lockdown Live,” she says.
Over the years, Erja Lyytinen’s sound has evolved dramatically. Beginning with her traditional blues roots, Lyytinen has been simultaneously pushing forward with a hard rock-orientated style of play whilst always keeping that blues sound at the core of everything she does. “My sound has changed since the last live recording. My playing has more of a hard-rock element and edge,” says Erja.
Erja attributes some of those changes to her equipment and repertoire of trusty axes. “Since my last live recording, my live guitar arsenal has grown quite a bit. I have five to six guitars, from Strats and Teles to custom-made guitars, on stage with me. It´s quite cool to dig out the different characteristics of each guitar. I´m using my road-worn Fender Custom Shop guitar on the songs Black Ocean and Never Really Had You. I had the guitar fine-tuned right before the tour and added it to my live arsenal. I feel as though it has been a sin to keep this Strat as my sofa guitar for years!”
The songs featured on Diamonds On The Road showcase the old, the new, the borrowed and the blues. “For the set list of the live album, we had a mixture of my favourite old songs and then a selection of the songs from my latest studio album, Waiting for The Daylight,” explains Erja. “We also recorded a Jimi Hendrix classic, Crosstown Traffic. I made my own version of it by playing the song using slide! It is so cool to play the song, and, on the recording, it is our first encore.”
Diamonds on the Road – Live 2023 includes an exclusive feature not found in the artist's previous concert albums. “I wrote a song based on artwork by famous Finnish artist Pekka Halonen´s painting ‘Väinämöinen Tuonelassa’. The piece tells the story of the Finnish epic saga, Kalevala, where a shaman called Väinämöinen goes to the Underworld. The song is slightly folk metal and sung in Finnish. It is a cool addition to the set list, making this live recording my first to have a song sung in Finnish,” explains Lyytinen.
The new live album showcases Erja and the band doing what they do best, playing concerts for their fans. "I have always loved performing live, but now, I enjoy playing even more and saying this on behalf of my band; I think they do, too. Performing live is stronger, more relaxed, and empowering. I´m grateful to be a guitarist and singer who is giving her best for the audience each night. It’s the best thing you can do with your pants on," concludes Erja.
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