Anneke van Giersbergen & Árstíðir – De Kleine Komedie, Amsterdam; March 29th, 2016
Dead tired and overly emotional I don’t even know how to put my feelings about the Verloren, Verleden concert in Amsterdam into words other than saying that the end of this tour was even more beautiful than its start almost one month before. It may not have been as surprising any more as that first show was, but it has really evolved from there and what was more like a loose collection of songs in the beginning became a tight performance where everyone knew their place and everything ran together smoothly. It was perfect from start to finish and even though the show gained perfection it did not lose its hart and soul in the process. The beauty of the venue alone was enough to create a lump in my throat and hearing all those wonderful songs one last time in such atmosphere was as heartbreaking as it was wonderful. Wonderful, because for this one last time the band gave us all they had and heartbreaking for the same reason: there was never going to be another show. It was a fitting closure to a great tour and I felt lucky to have been part of it. 🙂
The day before this last concert had been an off day that I spent relaxing and sightseeing inn Amsterdam. It’s been long ago that I’ve had so much time on a tour to actually see the cities I was in. After a bitt over a week I felt I’d been to each and every corner of the Netherlands and most of the places I saw were rather pretty. Dreaded going home already, back to my off-tour life. Not yet though. Another day to see the city and another night to celebrate music. 🙂
Arrived at the venue way to early, waited, read a little, said hello to Gunnar who was hanging out with friends, met P. and A. as well as K. and A., briefly spoke to Daníel and Marjana and saw quite a few other familiar faces. The theater was a lot smaller than I had expected, but very beautiful, old with lots of red and gold and several balconies. My seat was at the very right of front row and other than the fact that it was a bit low compared to the stage the view was brilliant from there. P. and A. had scored the best seats in the house on the first balcony on the left – really close to the stage. I could easily see them from my seat and looked for them from time to time.
Mostly though, I was completely enthralled with what was happening on stage. From the moment the band walked out until they took their final bow and walked off, I was caught up in the magic and the beauty of their music. So much at times that I forgot to breathe. One would think that once I knew the setlist, the chatter and the jokes there was no room for any more surprises, that it might get a bit repetitive, boring even, but none of that was the case. Still I felt each and every song and like all the other times the jokes and stories made me laugh. Just watching them interact put a smile on my face. 🙂
For the last time I saw them all sitting and standing in the dark, coming into focus one by one when the stage lights illuminated them and they started playing. First, Karl’s lonely violin, setting the mood for the evening, soon to be joined by Guillaume’s cello. Daníel’s guitar, picking up the melody, soon to be joined by Gunnar’s baritone before Anneke’s voices sets in and is, last but not least supported by Ragnar’s piano. ‘Solveig’s Song’ is the perfect song for starting the show, because it introduces each and every instrument, slowly easing the audience into the concert, the music promising us we will be safe and carried by beautiful melodies for the next 90 minutes. Yet before anyone can get the idea that this might be serious business, the mood subtly changes with Anneke’s first story causing everyone to listen and smile. The audience in Amsterdam clearly lost to Sneek with not showing enough appreciation for the globe though. 😉
As always, ‘Everwake’ was one of my highlights. I’ve been loving the song ever since the tour with Pain of Salvation. It fits in well with the classical pieces, especially in this arrangement, yet it stands out at the same time – at least to me. There is a sense of longing in that song I find hard to resist. <3 ‘Russian Lullaby’ and ‘Het Dorp’ brought a sense of melancholia and again longing, for a home maybe, a place to belong. Yet especially ‘Het Dorp’ always brings a smile to my face, because mixed in with the melancholia is a sense of happiness and good memories one can fondly look back on. Once again, I loved the piano on ‘A Simple Song’, it really got to me that night. :´)
The banter and Icelandic lesson before ‘Þér ég unni’ was as funny as ever. Guillaume’s sign was back and people did a pretty good job with the pronunciation – until Gunnar threw the full sentence at us that is. The song, no matter how often I hear it, will always be beautiful to me. A love all of Árstíðir’s a cappella pieces, but this one has always had a special place in my heart, because it is their own and Anneke’s voice fits perfectly harmonizing with the guys. This, paired with the beautifully arranged ‘When I am laid in earth’ and the powerful ‘Shades’ gave me goose bumps. For ‘Shades’, the one song where Anneke leaves the stage, Guillaume and Karl put on sun glasses. I have no clue how many people gut the joke, but I thought it was hilarious. 😀
Anneke was back for ‘Circles’ and ‘Four Years’ before ´she put her guitar away and he full band joined her again for ‘Danny Boy’. Like every night she told us about touring Mexico with The Gathering back in the late 90ies and how in a strange country, bonding over football, certain “national” songs can make you feel at home. she made a little poll of which songs could that be for the Dutchies and concluded that the Irish have such a song as well. She introduced ‘Lost in you’ by asking Karl if he could explain how to pronounce their band name. he countered “If you explain how to pronounce your last name”. She did and thus everyone learned that Árstíðir is just a combination of the English words “hours”, “teeth” and “ear” with rolled Rs. well if it is, how come nobody in Iceland recognized it when I say it like that and the guys keep laughing at ne every time I do? 😛
A bit later Daníel asked her to sing the tea song. It turned out to be a Sam Brown song about liking tea. It was a funny intermission that got even funnier when Karl kept replaying bits and pieces of the song that he had sampled. 😀 It lead to funny stories from the pranks at the last gig of the Pain of Salvation tour. Apparently I was the only member of the audience who had been there and laughed at the memories. An amazing version of ‘Leaves’ followed, moving me to tears and ‘Bist Du bei mir’ closed the set.
“Two more” I thought and wanted those last songs to go on forever, did not even want them to walk out again so soon. Yet there was no way to stop it and I took a deep breath to prepare for the end of this show and the wonderful tour. However, when they gathered at the front of the stage, Árstíðir surprised Anneke and those in the audience who had already seen the show by breaking into ‘Góða veislu gjöra skal’ – it cheered me up instantly. 🙂 Soon after ‘Heyr, Himna Smiður’ rose to the ceiling and brought back thoughts of the first time I had heard it in Vilnius. Finally ‘Pavae’ brought the tears back to my eyes. When it was over I jumped up like everyone else, smiling at everyone, trying to show them just how much I had loved it.
There was no space in front of my seat and since I was on the outside of the row I could not sit back down or people would have had to climb over me. Not anting to leave I sat down on the steps that led up to the stairs for a while and waited there. Karl and Guillaume came out so I asked Guillaume if I could have his “i Flugvallarbygginguna” sign and he gladly handed it over. What a nice souvenir. 🙂 Outside I talked to Anneke, thanked her for the show and suggested to do something like this every few years. 😉 We spent a long time chatting after the show, I said goodbye to those who left and the evening ended at a music bar in Amsterdam. It was a great night and totally worth staying up for.
A final thank you goes out to Anneke for making this cooperation happen and to Árstíðir for rolling with it. It was amazing and I truly hope their will be more projects like this in the future. Whatever happens, these memories will stay with me. <3
A Simple Song
Þér ég unni
When I am laid in earth
Londonderry Air (Danny Boy)
Lost in you
Bist Du bei mir
Góða veislu gjöra skal
Heyr, Himna Smiður
Verloren, Verleden tour: 12 concerts down, none to go. Final stop: home