At The Cluny, Newcastle (UK) 8th February 2018

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As our politicians seem to like saying at every opportunity “Difficult choices need to be made.”  With the loveable Canadians, Anvil, playing across town at Trillians and VUUR over at The Cluny on the same night, difficult decisions were indeed called for.

With this being Dutch singer Anneke Van Giersbergen first ever show in Newcastle whether with her first band, The Gathering or with her collaboration with Arjen Lucassen in The Gentle Storm or as a solo artist in her own right, she has come close but never quite made it to the banks of the Tyne in a recording career that stretches back 23 years. The chance to see Anneke was therefore one not to be missed.

Blessed with a beautiful, sweet, melodic voice she has a unique ability to transcend genres from the Gothic stylings of The Gathering to the more Progressive/Symphonic work with Gentle Storm while her solo work touches on the more reflective singer songwriter style with a good dose of pure Pop for good measure while her recent dalliance with Iceland`s Arstioir ventures into Icelandic Folk and Classical territory. She is certainly one versatile singer where everything that she touches turns to solid gold.

Back in 2016 she formed VUUR, meaning fire and passion in Dutch, to show her heavier side.  She`s done the Pop and the Folk, now was the time to bring on the guitars and riffs with the debut release In This Moment We Are Free-Cities, an album based on her travels to cities across the world from Berlin to Beirut.

What was instantly noticeable was how unbelievably heavy this was.  The riffs of Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens punched loud and very hard during openers Time – Rotterdam and My Champion – Berlin.  Yet despite that bone crunching heaviness the gorgeous vocals of Anneke soared over the top to create a unique sound.  So angelic and sweet yet powerful and commanding at the same time. 

Not only does Anneke possess a stunning voice but also has one of the most charming stage presences around and has the ability to make everyone feel like she is singing directly to them.

While the majority of the set is built around the debut album Anneke does dip back into the Gothic splendour of The Gathering`s, Strange Machines and On Most Surfaces as well as a bombastic rendition of The Storm by her Gentle Storm project and this really added to the texture and variety of the set.

People who have attended gigs over the years will recognise THAT moment.  The time where a particular song just knocks you flat and one that remains in the memory forever.  Anneke`s solo acoustic performance of Audioslave`s Like A Stone was a moment of such delicate, shimmering beauty that it brought a tear to the eye.  Such a sensitive, haunting rendition that had everyone utterly transfixed.  No audience chit chat, no one wandering off to the bar just everyone rooted to the spot living for that moment.  When it ended, for a moment, a pause and then an incredible ovation to acknowledge a stellar, breath-taking performance.

With Fallout from her collaboration with Devin Townsend and the multi-faceted dynamism of Reunite-Paris ending the show, there was no doubting that Anneke has come up trumps once again with VUUR which looks like being another string to her already impressive bow.  To sum up tonight`s show in one word?  Stunning.

Review and Photos by Mick Burgess

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