For those of you who miss The Gathering's glory days, back when their intoxicating blend of heavy guitars, atmospheric keyboards and female vocals injected metal with some much-needed diversity, Century Media's first-ever DVD collection of the band, featuring live footage from two gigs and a pair of promotional videos, may just do the trick. Although released without blessing from The Gathering, who left the label after 2000's If_Then_Else CD to pursue a self-described brand of "triprock" on the band's own Psychonaut Records, In Motion gathers about 40 minutes of footage each from the 1996 Dynamo Festival in Holland in front of 75,000 fans and an intimate 1997 club appearance in Krakow, Poland, plus video clips for "Leaves" and "Liberty Bell." Lost in all the Internet fuss about this release and The Gathering's non-involvement is the fact that the performances here are pretty solid.
Given the differences in settings, the contrasts between the outdoor gig and the indoor show are immense. Granted, the five guys in the band don't do much except play their asses off, look at their instruments and bang their heads. But that's OK, because Anneke van Giersbergen's charisma and mystique carries both performances. In front of 75,000 fans, though, she's much more bubbly, bouncing around the stage, full of smiles and friendly come-ons – not what you'd expect, considering some of the band's material. She's dressed in a baggy long-sleeve black T-shirt and black cargo pants, understandable given the day's overcast skies. Onstage in Poland, however, van Giersbergen wears what appears to be a pair of tight black sweat pants and a tight black tank top. She's much more aloof yet her voice is stronger and more audible than it was at Dynamo. Both shows demonstrate why The Gathering were (and still should be) considered metal pioneers, and both sets deserve to have been aired here in their entirety, not with fadeouts after some songs.
There's little in the way of extras on this DVD, unless you count the two promo videos and a discography. A booklet, better sound quality, credits and an interview with members reflecting on the days of the Mandylion and Nighttime Birds albums – released at the peak of The Gathering's Century Media years – would have helped place this era in perspective and given it the treatment it's due. But the latter, at least, was no doubt prohibitive given the circumstances. Still, officially sanctioned by the band or not, In Motion gives U.S. fans a live taste of what many have likely missed. For where the band is at today, I recommend the new album, Souvenirs.
Note: My rating is based on this being an unofficial release and its questionable packaging. Otherwise, add a star.