Two great bands, one awful support act.
The news of a supporting band in addition to the two rocking front ladies and their bands catch me as a surprise. More so when I hear that the opening act is a band consisting of a German actress/singer with Mexican band mates. Well I was very curious. The genre: electro-rock. The sound: awful – and way too loud. It’s a small venue and by show start there are barely one hundred attendees, but the drums are amplified anyway. I like the music and the band delivers a good performance on the 2 square meters of stage space they have, since the other two bands have already arranged their instruments in order of appearance, naturally. (Un-)Fortunately we can’t really hear the singer except for a few announcements in between songs, which attest perfect diction in German, as expected from her work as soap-actress. Luckily the door to the backyard/smoking area is right there and I decide to miss the last 3 songs and give my ears a well-deserved break.
But then came the Swiss guys and slapped me in the face with a perfect mix of professionalism and kindness, connecting with the by now bigger audience and making the concert personal and wonderfully intimate. The sound for the second row of instruments on stage is a little better than before, except for bandleader Anna Murphy’s microphone that at times clicks metallically, probably a loose joint. But that doesn’t stop her from taking our breath away: we knew from her work with ELUVEITIE that she has a beautiful voice, but with her own music she shows much more emotion and versatility. Her equipment strikes me as proof of her professionalism as a singer, for she takes advantage of an effect machine and a loop station to make her performance more dynamic, besides the hypnotizing melodies of her hurdy-gurdy, of course. All of Anna’s announcements are in High German, which seems a bit arduous but charming, and when she dedicates her song ‘Harley Quinn’ to Batman-fans I notice she’s wearing a Joker-top (with cool leather-look leggings and awful kitten heeled Mary Janes, but that’s my only point of criticism). My personal highlight of her performance is ‘Open End’ a song that, sadly, did not make it to her debut album, but is absolutely enthralling. Well that and the moment before their start, when a man from the Blue Man Group, a.k.a. a guy in a blue murphy suit sound-checked for the lead guitarist.
And after another short pause comes Miss Lightning Bolt! Anneke van Giersbergen and her band is an explosion of energy on stage, firing up the by now about 200-person crowd and creating the atmosphere of the huge party this is: the last show of their European “Drive” Tour. Already the third title, THE GATHERING-hit ‘Saturnine’ gets us all to sing along. But this is only the beginning!
It gives me THE goosebumps when Anneke starts to sing her little medley of the emotional ‘You Learn About It’ and the powerful ‘She’. Anneke sings beautifully as always, supported with backing vocals from the guitarists, as well as from keyboard girl Caroline Campbell, known as touring musician for big acts like CRADLE OF FILTH. Caroline rocks a poker face, which makes her rare smiles to her fellow musicians priceless. Then the band takes a break for Anneke to sing ‘Beautiful one’ and ‘Circles’ only to the tune of her acoustic guitar and come back after that to accompany her on ‘My Mother Said’ a very touching song about and dedicated to her parents, who happen to be attending the concert. Tears, I’m telling you, tears.
The party goes on and reaches another high point with THE GATHERING-classic ‘Strange Machines’, after which the band goes backstage to wait for the “encore” shouts. Anneke kindly asks the audience to pick one of two other songs of her former band: ‘Leaves’ or ‘Broken Glass’. Sadly for me the majority claps and screams for the former and keyboarder Caroline Campbell joins the singer on stage to play a piano version of ‘Leaves’. Then after two last, but very energetic songs, this magical evening comes to a close, leaving everybody pleased and happy.
Anna Murphy set list:
Johnny Guitar (Peggy Lee cover)
Anneke van Giersbergen set list:
You Will Never Change
1000 Miles Away from You
Beautiful One (Acoustic)
My Mother Said
Even the Spirits Are Afraid
You Want to Be Free
Leaves (Piano Version)
We Live On
The Best Is Yet to Come