8th May 2022
Anneke van Giersbergen - “Darkest Skies Acoustic Tour”
Her fans experienced an intimate concert in a special setting. ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN is touring Europe with eighteen shows to present her current album ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ completely acoustically. Her new album has garnered an enthusiastic response from fans and critics alike and opens a new chapter in Anneke’s impressive career. The concert was very intimate. There was no support act, the stage setting was very sparce and in the audience area were beer benches and bar tables placed.
Music & Performance
After thirteen years as the frontwoman of the melancholic metallers THE GATHERING, Anneke van Giersbergen walked on solo paths from 2007. Since then, her creativity knows no bounds. Anneke quickly built a successful solo career (initially under the name Agua de Annique) and has recorded and played several times with Canadian metal genius Devin Townsend. She has also lent her light-hearted yet powerful voice to the likes of ANATHEMA, Icelandic folk group ÁRSTÍÐIR, WITHIN TEMPTATION, AYREON mastermind Arjen Lucassen, AMORPHIS and prog legend JOHN WETTON. 2012’s ‘Everything Is Changing’ was something of a milestone in Anneke’s solo career. The album, which was the first to appear under her own name, received two nominations for the Edison Award - Holland’s most prestigious music award - for “Best Female Artist” and “Best Album”.
In 2015, Anneke van Giersbergen and Arjen Lucassen (AYREON) released their collaborative album ‘The Diary’ under the name THE GENTLE STORM. In October 2017, Anneke’s progressive metal band VUUR released their highly anticipated debut album. ‘In This Moment We Are Free – Cities’ entered the Dutch Albums Top 100 at number 2, Anneke’s highest chart position of all time. Forever the unpredictable artist, Anneke released ‘Symphonized’, an 11-track live orchestral album, in late 2018. Recorded at two career-spanning concerts alongside Residentie Orkest The Hague, it features rearrangements of songs from their entire back catalogue. In 2019, the Dutch music copyright organization Buma Cultuur honoured Anneke with the Buma ROCKS! export price. This is their award for the most successful Dutch artist abroad in heavy music. With the release of her new solo album ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ in 2021, Anneke surprised her fans again. Now she was presenting her work live where new and old songs as well as several songs from her various projects found a place in the setlist.
Before the tour, she said “I’ve missed performing live so much and I’m very excited to think about how the new songs on the album will sound live! I’m just really looking forward to getting out there and seeing everyone again. The wonderful Heather Findlay will join me as my special guest.” ‘The Darkest Skies Are The Brightest’ is already Anneke’s 23rd album and confidently crosses all genre boundaries. Lyrically and musically, Anneke bares her soul with the most impressive release of her career - captivating song stories told with acoustic guitars, strings, horns, drums and Anneke’s hypnotic vocal harmonies. On this evening though, it was only Anneke and her guitar - or to be exact three guitars. And nothing more was needed for a perfect musical evening.
The stage was kind of empty. There was the microphone, thee guitars and most of the furnishing of her little rehearsal room at home - as she told us during the show – a carpet, little table, stool and blankets. It was very cosy with all those red lights on stage and really had the feeling of a living room concert. And it was really entertaining. For most songs, Anneke was telling a little story… like that she learned a bit of German during touring and from German TV she watched at home in her childhood… ‘Die Sendung mit der Maus’ and German crime films like ‘Derrick’ or ‘Tatort’. Of course there was also a lot of laughing. She also explained how she is writing songs or that her teen son gives her advises for her outfit and through him, she more or less learned from TikTok.
The setlist contained of course several songs from her recent album but also lots of songs from her other collaborations or from her time in THE GATHERING. The DEVIN TOWNSEND cover ‘Ih-Ah!’ and ‘Valley of the Queens’ by AYREON got a lot of applause. At the PINK FLOYD song ‘Wish You Were Here’ people were loudly singing along and Anneke was really happy how good it turned out. And yes, it really sounded good… Anneke with a very nice choir. A very touching moment came when she announced the AUDIOSLAVE song ‘Like a Stone’… she dedicated the song to the band’s former singer Chris Cornell, who is gone much too soon, and was really touched… at the end, she even had some tears in her eyes. This was officially the last song and she said she could act like a Diva and go off stage, anyone applauds and then she returns like a Diva. But since she isn’t a Diva she just stays on stage and plays two more songs.
The next song was ‘Hurricane’ followed by the beautiful ‘Weary’. Just for this last song, she brought a special guitar and carried it through half of Europe. She thanked the people and asked them to visit the “Pop up store” built up to do some shopping if they like and meet her after the show for chat, beer and signing… she also would do boob signing if people wish. She is so nice, so sweet… after the show it felt like you know her personally for a very long time. People were happy and I heard comments like “such a great voice” or “what a likeable person”. Nothing more to wish for…
01. Beautiful One (Agua de Annique cover)
02. Love You Like I Love You
04. Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) (Kate Bush cover)
05. My Mother Said
06. Losing You
07. Saturnine (The Gathering song)
08. Lo and Behold
09. Ih-Ah! (Devin Townsend Project cover)
10. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
11. Valley of the Queens (Ayreon cover)
12. I Saw a Car
13. The Soul Knows
14. Mental Jungle
15. Like a Stone (Audioslave cover)
Total: 9.3 / 10
All pictures from the Saturday show by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)