To start with a conclusion in the introduction of a review is not common, but here it is: No better way to celebrate 25 years of Anneke van Giersbergen on stage, than the two shows in Effenaar in Eindhoven. The lucky ones who witnessed Anneke’s anniversary concerts on 16 and 17 November will no doubt agree.
Text: Mark van Schaick // Photography: Dani Silvia
For almost three hours Mrs. van Giersbergen graces us with her presence. When she speaks, her disarming personality shines through. When she sings, she is in total control of the song at hand. More than once (we enjoyed the second of the two nights) she manages to surprise her audience with her power, her vocal range and her emotional depth. She makes it seem that an extensive North American tour – she was across the pond for five weeks in September and October – is the best thing that could have happened to her vocal chords. Anneke van Giersbergen is, in other words, in superior shape.
A solo performance of The Gathering’s Saturnine serves as the evening’s introduction. The first of many pleasant surprises unfolds afterwards: for five songs Anneke’s voice is carried by the young Kamerata Zuid Chamber Orchestra, led by Frank Adams. It is great to see the interaction between conductor and singer. This is clearly a welcome start of the collaboration, that will continue during the rest of November and part of December. The announcement of Within Temptation singer Sharon Den Adel towards the end of the orchestra’s set feels somewhat awkward, but fortunately the delivery of Somewhere – a Within Temptation song from 2004 – is spot on. It is not the first time Sharon and Anneke sang this duet, but with the string arrangement it surely is a rendition to be remembered.
After a short break, the 2019 version of Anneke’s first solo project Agua de Annique takes the stage. They perform a varied selection of songs, including the puzzlingly lightweight Hey Okay!. To have that ditty followed by To Catch A Thief, is no mean feat. Originally sung by Anneke on the John Wetton and Geoff Downes album Icon II – Rubicon of 2006, her operatic delivery is one of the evening’s goosebump moments. Mental Jungle suffers from a lack of interaction, due to the fact that Armenian singer Hayko Cepkin’s voice comes from a digital source. But all in all, the set is a welcome return to the Agua de Annique rock sound.
Next up is an all too short set of duo performances by Anneke with Anathema’s Daniel Cavanagh on guitar and additional vocals. After starting with Damien Rice’s The Blower’s Daughter, Anneke gives one of her most commanding performances of the night in A Natural Disaster. As with the duo’s version of Untouchable, Part 2, it far outgrew the Anathema original.
For the last set, Anneke’s metal outfit VUUR takes the stage to play only one song of their own (Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki), as part of a selection of heavy tracks from Anneke’s career. It is great to hear The Gentle Storm’s Storm back to back with On Most Surfaces (Inuït) from The Gathering’s 1997 album Nighttime Birds, both played masterfully. Before digging into Devin Townsend’s Hyperdrive, Anneke compliments her audience with the fact that they chose to be with her instead of with Townsend, who is at that very moment playing in Tilburg’s 013, a mere 35 kilometres away. And what better song to close the set with than Strange Machines – a perfect ending to the evening.
No less than 34 nationalities are present at the concert, as mentioned by Eindhoven singer-songwriter (and ex soccer pro) Björn van der Doelen, who serves as some sort of MC in between sets. The love that transcends from the fans towards the stage is almost tangible – first and foremost Brabant made itself heard, but women and men from places as far away as China, Italy, Spain, Chili and Groningen make themselves heard loud and clear. Over two and a half hours of music they got, with Anneke van Giersbergen connecting them all with her vocals and her presentation. Two and a half hours without a sign of fatigue, or a crackle in her voice. May she continue to do so for a very long time.
Info: From the 23rd of November, Anneke and Kamerata Zuid Chamber Orchestra will perform seven shows throughout the province of Brabant. The repertoire will feature one new original, written by the officially appointed composer of the city of Tilburg, Anthony Fiumara. Dates behind this link.