March 21st was the date for the much anticipated return of The Gathering to New York City. With the release of their new album Home, the band made a short trek across the US to play some select shows, and on this night stopped at The Knitting Factory, a club normally known to house jazz and blues acts. Sea of Tranquility's Ken Pierce and Pete Pardo were on hand for the show, which also saw openers The Unexpect and Giant Squid play some hot sets.
Read on for the full show review!
Pete Pardo: The Knitting Factory seemed an odd choice of venue for The Gathering to make their stop in New York City, as it's a fairly small and intimate club that is historically known as a jazz hangout. With it's odd shaped room and small stage, it doesn't strike you as being a place where a reknowned rock act would pick to play. However, the sad thruth is The Gathering are perhaps less popular here in the States than anywhere else in the world, which is a damn shame considering that their music has influenced so many other acts that have made it big here in the US. So in reality the size and intimate nature of the club actually worked out well, bringing the bands and audience close together for a night of bonding that you don't get at most venues.
The Unexpect from Canada opened the show with a blistering set of unique music that seemed to fuse progressive metal and black metal with a touch of gothic as well as Frank Zappa inspired craziness. Featuring soaring female vocals, raging male black metal screams, scorching violin, atmospheric keyboards, pulsating & complex rhythms, and crushing, technical guitar onslaughts, The Unexpect have one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard. The audience loved their set, as did I, and I look forward to seeing and hearing more from this band in the future. They have 2 albums currently under their belt and are working on their third, which the band mentioned will be released on The End Records.
Giant Squid from Texas were up next, and again the theme of the day continued, as the band also had a very unique sound and style. Drawing inspiration from 60's psychedelic bands like The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane, Giant Squid have a sound that is at times jazzy (thanks to some great trumpet and electric piano playing) as well as pretty rocking. The use of male and female vocals works out quite well for the band, as it gives their songs that extra added layering which is already pretty thick with all the different instruments they use. Another band to watch out for in the near future.
When The Gathering finally made their way to the stage, the venue was pretty packed but I don't think more than 300 or so people were in attendance. Each and every person there though eagerly awaited their presence, and when they kicked into their first song "Liberty Bell", the fans sand along to every word. Lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen is the focal point of the band, and it's obvious that she has a special bond with the fans of the band that is extremely strong and loyal. Plain and simple, she had the audience in the palm of her hand the entire evening. Her vocals were angelic and lovely, and the between song banter was sweet and charming. Obviously, this is one special lady. The band ripped through songs mostly from the last few albums, among them tunes such as "Souvenirs", "In Motion 1", and "Broken Glass". Tracks from Home were well represented, and the band even broke out the classic "Eleanor" for good measure. While the music of The Gathering is now far removed from their earlier metal days, there was still plenty of massive sounding guitars and walls of keyboards on this night, but overall the vibe was very atmospheric and dreamy. A concert with The Gathering is a pretty unique experience (there I am using that word again!), as their music sways and pulsates, fairly progressive, but with hints of ambient and trance styles that give it that psychedelic edge. These are top notch musicians, and Anneke is a great performer. Considering that she just had a baby last year, she is once again in great shape, and vocally she sounded brilliant on this night. My only wish is that this band would get the recognition they deserve here in the US, as I would love to see this band one day playing in places like The Beacon Theater or Radio City Music Hall. Time will tell I guess, but any chance to see a rare show with The Gathering is a good thing in my book. Hopefully next time we won't have to wait so long.
Ken Pierce: The Gathering is a band that was the original inspiration behind the whole Gothic Rock & Metal scene many years ago. Sadly a lot of you just read that line and mumbled "who's The Gathering?". Well, sometimes the case becomes that the people influenced are far more successful than those that do the influencing in the first place. Bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence, who both enjoy considerable levels of acclaim Stateside are actually among the first names to come up when people think of Gothic Rock music. In this region The Gathering instead enjoy a quieter level of success appealing to only those who were turned on to them by a Friend or are up to date musically and know what comes from where. Tonight at the Knitting Factory in New York City, the band would be making what seemed to be their first appearance ever in the City and this venue while a comfortable one is hardly the size that you expect to find a band with such a level of influence to perform in. Holding only a couple of hundred people the place was not packed to the point of discomfort but I have to say that no one in the place was unaware of this band. Everyone in attendance would be a person who had a good background in the music to be performed this evening.
The End Records seemed in command the whole night, as two other groups from their artist roster would be starting off the festivities. The first band would be Unexpect, and we walked in just as they were beginning to assault the stage. I admit that I enjoyed the level of technical chaos that was being delivered by the band whom I referred to as Dimmu Borgir combined with Dream Theater combined with a touch of Frank Zappa uniqueness. It's difficult to absorb in one sitting and there was clearly a lot of interesting musical ideas being done. If offbeat technical representation is your cup of tea then I feel you will also enjoy this group of Canadians. According to the lovely Leilildel, the bands female vocalist; their The End Records debut is set for middle 2006. I was caught up running around the club and getting a gauge for who was in attendance while Giant Squid was on, and without dismissing their set, I feel I need to sit back and listen to a CD before I pass any judgement on what they are all about. They also managed to be different in their style and as with Unexpect offered the audience a wide scope of varied music to enjoy tonight. Interesting aspects in Giant Squid would be the mixed vocals as well as piano and trombone. Clearly the bands appearing on The End's roster are groups that enjoy mixing up the common expectations that the audience often has.
When The Gathering came on the rich atmospheric Rock began as guitarist Rene Ruttan began to play. It was a crisp and tight sound with a lot of passion and as lead singer Anneke van Giersbergen appeared you instantly knew that she was the person who everyone was most interested in seeing tonight. The response was amazing to see as while angelic she is the second singer in the group and similar to Marillion who had Fish and then Steve Hogarth; the band and their music became an entirely different animal to what was originally planned for the course of the group. Anneke totally held the audience in the palm of her hand and was nothing but smiles throughout the whole performance. In 2006 the music of the Gathering is not so much Metal and Gothic at all, but instead a level of Rock that is deeply rooted in Pink Floyd type atmospheric sounds and feels. I admit to being on the new side to the band as well with my real first listen coming courtesy of their quasi-acoustic release "Sleepy Buildings". Friends had given me samples of "Mandylion" which I can only say is a must-have album and the band is now set to release "Home" on the world as part of their signing with The End Records. Musically this was a wonderful evening as everyone was playing to perfection and the group would deliver a nice long set on top of this. The other thing I took away from this show was the good time that the group seemed to be having while playing for this comfortable audience. Some bands that are larger in scope elsewhere often show disdain for the room or turnout often venting unnecessary comments. It was refreshing to see that The Gathering did not have this issue. I think if offered the chance to enjoy them that the larger public would find some appreciation in what they do for music. It's hipper and more in sync with Progressive Music at times and would probably reach a larger audience if more music was readily available. I recommend the curious look into the re-issue of "Mandylion" and perhaps the acoustic effort and new release to find a solid representation of what this group can do. While they were influenced by them, there is no fair way to compare what Evanescence does to what Gathering has already done.
For the show Anneke had a little Hedy Lamarr vamp thing going on it seemed and she really seemed moved by the genuine appreciation of her music. The rest of the band were smiles as well, but focused more on performing than playing up to everyone. Make sure you look into them as I surely don't regret my decision to do so.
Problably Built in the 50's
A Noise Severe
In Motion I
Official Web site: www.gathering.nl
Official Web site: www.unexpect.com
Official Web site: www.biggiantsquid.com