Fifteen years ago, at the now demolished Rodon Club in Athens and in the good company of another two thousand fans of atmospheric/progressive metal, the author of this review enjoyed one of the most artistically satisfying and emotionally charged performances ever.
Following the release of their fifth studio album “How To Measure A Planet?”, the Dutch quintet The Gathering decided to visit the capital of Greece and, with the assistance of her angelic voice, their then frontwoman Anneke Van Giersbergen provided the soundtrack to one of the best musical experiences of my life. Since then, many things have changed but one thing always remained the same: Anneke’s passion and total devotion to music!
Well, on the 19th of October, with a never-fading smile on her face, she set out to prove to a fairly mixed audience that when such important values are the driving factor behind song-writing, any genre-related boundaries simply become irrelevant – a mission that was crowned with total success.
The venue set for my latest encounter with this exceptionally gifted singer/sonwriter was the Jazz Café, right in the heart of Camden town. After arriving in Camden, I made my way to the venue in time to meet with Anneke and talk with her about her latest album “Drive”, and later in the day, returned in time to enjoy a pretty impressive performance by the opening act of the night – Trillium.
Fronted by Amanda Somerville, a singer-songwriter who has lent her impressive tenor/soprano vocals to After Forever, Kamelot and Avantasia, this quartet offered us a fine blend of female-fronted melodic Power Metal, the kind that put as much emphasis on skilled individual performances as on memorable melodies for effect.
Leading her ‘troops’ with great ease and the air of a real diva, Somerville offered impressive renditions of “Machine Gun” and “Purge” and “Coward”, however, the highlight of the band’s performance has to be “Path Of Least Resistance” – a highly charged musical composition, dedicated to a fallen comrade.
By the time Anneke Van Giersbergen first hit the stage twenty or so minutes after Trillium had finished their impressive set, the Jazz Café was packed to the rafters and the atmosphere was noticeably charged.
It was left to the athemic tunes of “You Will Never Change” to diffuse some of that energy – a song that was greeted with approval by Anneke’s fans. Casually dressed, but sporting that well-documented and highly contagious smile on her face, Anneke looked fairly overwhelmed by the reception she received and her gratitude was expressed in various ways throughout the show – the best being, in my books, a killer rendition of The Gathering classic “Saturnine”.
With the main focus of this tour being the promotion of her latest album “Drive”, one ought to both expect and justify songs like “Treat Me Like A Lady” and “1000 Miles Away From You” dominating the set list.
In between, however, Anneke did sneak in other beautifully crafted pieces of music, such as “My Boy” – a song which was dedicated to her attending eight year old son through the provision of a sweet kiss that I am sure many men in the crowd would have wished to have been on the receiving end of.
It was the acoustic guitar autobiographical piece “My Mother Said” which attracted the best reaction in relation to new material, with “Forgive Me” and “Mental Jungle” scoring equally high points with the crowd.
Anneke stretched her vocal chords to the maximum throughout the show, but it was in “Shooting Through The Stars”, a song which closed the show’s main set, that she once again proved what an amazing singer she really is!
Curfew or no curfew, none of us would have left the venue without an encore and the moment I realised that the first song to be performed by the returning Anneke was The Gathering’s “Broken Glass” I almost welled up.
The follow-up medley “We Live On/Feel Alive” kept a healthy momentum going, while the groove laden “The Best Is Yet To Come” ended the show on an emotional and rhythmical high.
When Anneke Van Giersbergen left The Gathering back in August 2007, there were quite a few people, according to her, who doubted whether there was any future left for her musical career.
Five studio albums and many impressive and varied musical collaborations later, Anneke comes across as a pretty confident front-woman with a pure artistic vision – a vision with no preconceptions or musical boundaries to consider.
What Anneke is offering to all of us is the chance to partake in a beautiful and very rewarding musical journey: accept this and you will be thoroughly rewarded – reject it and you will lose out on something truly special indeed.
Review and photos by Yiannis Stefanis
Trillium Set List:
- “Machine Gun”
- “Into The Dissonance” (Lunatica cover)
- “Carnival” (Amana Somerville cover)
- “Bow To The Ego”
- “Path Of Least Resistance”
Anneke Van Giersbergen Set List:
- “You Will Never Change”
- “Treat Me Like A Lady”
- “My Boy”
- “1000 Miles Away From You”
- “You Learn/She”
- “Anneke Solo”
- “My Mother Said”
- “Forgive Me”
- “Mental Jungle”
- “You Want To Be Free”
- “Shooting For The Stars”
- “Broken Glass”
- “We Live On/Feel Alive”
- “The Best Is Yet To Come”
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