Anneke Van Giersbergen, Death Letters and Mojo Fury @ The Borderline, London

September 19th 2012
Review by Paul James
Photography by Sabrina Dersel

As soon as I heard Anneke Van Giersbergen was embarking on a tour of the Uk, I was incredibly excited – I have been a huge Gathering fan for years and her material outside of the band has been nothing short of excellent in recent years, from guesting on albums for notable acts like Moonspell, Napalm Death, Devin Townsend, Anathema and many, many more – her voice is easily recognized amongst the hard rock & metal genres.

Her newest release “Everything Is Changing” is excellently crafted piece of pop meets hard rock/metal.

Support for this evening comes from fellow Dutchmen Death Letters & Mojo Fury – former who open tonight’s proceedings to an already packed crowd at the borderline.

It’s an intriguing setup from the get go, only one guitarist/vocalist Duende & drummer Victor are needed it seems! Describing themselves as a blend of artists such as Son House, At The Drive In, Cult Of Luna, Oceansize & The Thermals I was quite curious to hear what they would actually sound like!

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Blasting into tunes such as “Your Heart Upside Down” & “Death Of The Sincere” they immediately prove that this two piece was a wise decision, due to Duende’s sound being pushed through 2 separate rigs on stage, they sound positively huge even without a bass guitar to fill the gap! Bouncing around like an excitable child on a bungee cord, Duende is quite a force on stage too!

There’s certainly a sense of quirkiness about their sound, as it seems to flit between screamo, prog, metal, post rock just about any genre they seem to be able to make some kind of link to – none of this detracts from the actual songs however and I find myself quite enjoying the moments of contrast between all out aggression and prog sound scapes.

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In fact it’s this sound that probably prompts the comment from the bar “Have you got any weed on you?” to which they reply “We’re fine thanks!” to a few laughs from the crowd.

Duende’s voice is quite a highlight as he manages to play some pretty complex lead work and still manage to sing/scream his lungs out at every opportunity – It’s quite clear why they’re on this tour, they have a certain charm and tracks like “Temporary Frame” certainly help them gain some new friends in London tonight, hopefully it won’t be long before they come back for a tour of their own!

Mojo Fury however are a bit of a different beast altogether, the Northern Irish alt rockers bring their seemingly almost classic rock/funk inspired music to the forefront.

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However from the get go it seems the sound isn’t entirely on their side, the keys seem quite muffled amongst layers of guitar noise and harmony vocals which are a bit off key on a few occasions unfortunately.

Adding to the problems is the fact Michael’s Irish accent makes his on stage chatter rather difficult to make out, so apologies if you were expecting a set list of any kind! The one song title I could make out “We Should Just Run Away” was a particular highlight of their set, though as it went on it began to grind – the set didn’t really seem to go anywhere and if I’m honest the band comes across as a bit of a “boy band” and in this setting with a lot of metal heads in the audience – they were never going to do particularly well.

However it’s plain to see the talent that landed them this slot and I’m sure in the right environment (probably involving a lot more teenage girls) they would go down a storm. Once their 30 minutes are up everyone can get to preparing for the real reason the borderline is so packed this evening, Anneke & co.

Opening with newest single “Feel Alive” Anneke looks positively vibrant as her powerful yet soft voice flows around the venue, her backing musicians including her husband Rob Snijders on drums are all energetic and clearly happy to be playing for a such a packed out audience on their first Uk date of the tour.

In between most songs Anneke frequently talks to the audience as she beamingly smiles and makes jokes, always entertaining and funny – she creates such a great atmosphere for everyone in the audience – the entire crowd is engaged in clapping or singing along to every word during tracks like “Fury” & “Take Me Home” It’s clear from the first three songs all culled from “Everything Is Changing” that this tour is mainly about her new material, but there’s always time for older tracks and the occasional cover – A more rocky version of The Eurythmics “Here Comes The Rain Again” is a very welcome addition to the set list.

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Before that a special mention for new track “Circles” mainly a piano based ballad, is tonight played with clean guitars for a different take on the track and it certainly loses none of it’s emotional impact, almost bringing a tear to my eye! – Anneke’s voice is flawless throughout and it’s very clear that this will probably become a crowd favourite in years to come!

Of course if you’re at this gig you’re expecting that Anneke will perform some Gathering tracks too, she certainly doesn’t disappoint – “Saturnine” makes an appearance for a huge sing-along, followed another dose of cuts from the new album “Stay”, “Too Late” & “1000 Miles Away From You” are all played to rapturous applause from the crowd, before it’s time to return to The Gathering again for the encore with “Even The Spirits Are Afraid” to huge cheers.

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The beauty with a show like this is the great atmosphere, everyone around me was singing along, happy smiles and attention purely focused on the band and their performance – many bands could learn from their fantastic example, it helps being a great songwriter too though!

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Back to the new album for one last tune and it’s to Anneke’s constant request for dancing appropriately the song is “Hope, Pray, Dance, Play” In which Anneke climbs into the crowd for a dance with her fans!

Back on stage afterwards, Anneke mentions the last time they were here – The Within Temptation tour last year and her performance with Devin Townsend the same evening, before suddenly launching literally into “Hyperdrive” from Devin’s “Addicted” & “Ziltoid The Omniscient” to great response, It would almost seem that song was made for Anneke to shape as her own.
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Returning for the last encore with “Witnesses” to close out the set once again brings the night to a definite high and again it’s so easy to notice just how catchy and sing-able the majority of her back catalogue really is – when it’s all over it seems like the show has gone in a blur, If only I could have heard more tracks!

A really fantastic performance, next time her tour comes round – make sure you check her out, you won’t be disappointed!

Set list:
Feel Alive
My Boy
Take Me Home
Beautiful One
You Want To Be Free
Here Comes The Rain Again (Eurythmics Cover)
Saturnine (The Gathering Cover)
Too Late
1000 Miles Away From You
Even The Spirits Are Afraid (The Gathering Cover)
Hope, Pray, Dance, Play
Hyper drive (Devin Townsend Cover)