Sirens Singing Soothing Songs
The Gathering and Pale Forest at John Dee, Oslo, Norway, on February 16th 2001
by: Chris Flaaten
John Dee is a small club and seemed sold out for this concert. I do not think The Gathering sells a lot of albums in Norway. Limited sales would at least explain why they chose such a small venue (250 max) and why they have never made it over to Norway before. Now they were finally here and I looked forward to finally seeing them live, although I would have preferred to have seen them six years ago on their _Mandylion_ tour.

Pale Forest acted as support. Earlier that day I had, by chance, learned that they are from Gjovik, Norway, and that they played "hard, melodic music". The music they presented was mellow hard rock with female vocals. Many of the songs had similar structures and the order in which they were played also seemed... wrong. The first three songs were all very slow, while their last was the most dynamic one. Perhaps this made more sense to the non-extreme metal loving part of the crowd. It was quite obvious that some of the members were nervous, but except for a couple of minor mistakes from their second guitarist it didn't affect the musical aspect of their presentation. The female vocalist delivered a strong performance and saved the audience, at least the metal-loving part of it, from utter boredom. Well rehearsed, good sound, but still very easy listening.

The Gathering opened with "Rollercoaster", one of the best and most energetic tracks from _if_then_else_ [CoC #48], and it sounded amazing. John Dee is an awesome place for gigs, as both the sound and atmosphere are always top notch. The Gathering, lead by my favourite vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen, presented a set with few surprises. The focus was mainly on their two latest albums, with "Shrink" and the title track from _Nighttime Birds_ [CoC #21] and "Strange Machines" from _Mandylion_ [CoC #7] also making the cut. As I said, the set was almost as expected, but I had hoped they would at least play "Sand and Mercury" since it is on their recent live album, _Superheat_. "Probably Built in the Fifties" was the only track I was surprised they didn't play. The songs from the new album worked very well live, especially the faster tracks like "Shot to Pieces" and "Colorado Incident". The performance was almost flawless. The drummer drifted away from the background sampling for a brief moment in one of the songs, but he looked deeply regretful about this and therefore I'll be generous and call them -very- professional. Anneke was as amazing as I had hoped for, a vocal genius. Their concert was rounded off with a breathtaking performance of "Travel", and although it made me want more, I was perfectly OK with going home as it had gotten quite late. I hope they decide to come back in the future.

(article submitted 13/3/2001)


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