28.03.2021 Anneke van Giersbergen: Darkest Skies Virtual Experience

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Singer Anneke van Giersbergen released her acoustic solo effort, The Darkest Skies are the Brightest about one month, on 28th March, 2021. After the release of the album to positive reception, she organized a streaming concert for fans from around the globe to enjoy. We tuned in to see how those emotional compositions were translated to a live setting.

Anneke made sure fans would be comfortable – when the stream started, she immediately grabbed the mic and talked a bit to the audience about what to expect and showed her self-made living room setting where she was going to play her songs for us. The room looked a little bit boho and somehow felt really like a place where Anneke enjoys being. She mentioned that the stream would take approximately 1 hour and though the album included other instruments, the stream was just Anneke and her guitar, strumming chords while singing, much like she has done in the past at her acoustic shows. Starting out with the beautiful “The Soul Knows,” Anneke immediately set an intimate atmosphere, which continues throughout “1000 Miles.” During the two songs, there was a black title screen announcing the next song, which made me wonder whether this was actually live or a pre-recorded stream. The next track was “Agape,” but instead of having it played live, the music video started playing, which features Anneke van Giersbergen in a milk bath (a very recent trend photographers who spend time on Instagram and Pinterest surely know).

In her acoustic shows, Anneke sometimes plays covers, which she also prepared for this set with “Like a Stone,” originally by AUDIOSLAVE. Admittedly, grunge legend Chris Cornell is one of the few artists whose songs I usually don’t want anyone to cover because he has such a specific emotion in his voice. More often than not, his songs are so loaded with emotion that no one should be touching them… except Anneke. She knows how to make songs her own and knows how to put the right emotions in the song, which is what makes her the artist that she is and many will agree with me when I say that she could sing about something as trivial as a kitchen tile and it would still touch your soul. Continuing with “Lo & Behold,” Anneke proves how great these songs sound live.

Next up was the music video for “I Saw a Car,” after which a title screen introduced the next song, “Losing You,” which featured her son, Finn, accompanying her on acoustic guitar. While he was strumming, Anneke was playing soft chords; altogether this was a very heartwarming moment, which by the looks of it, both of them shared. Hopefully they can share the stage again together in the future! The music video for “Hurricane” followed, after which was “Love You Like I Love You.” This was one of the most touching songs on the album and it was no different during this stream – somehow the emotions present in this song were even more strongly present, almost overwhelming. Then it was time for an acoustic version of a THE GATHERING classic, “Strange Machines”; it’s always great to hear songs from Anneke‘s past and this intimate version was definitely a great experience for me to witness. With “My Promise,” another music video followed. Admittedly, the singles were some of my favorite songs off this album, so in a way, I feel a little bit sad that they were only covered with music videos for this stream as I was looking forward to see them live. However, I guess that means that whenever live shows are happening again, we’ll still have that first sparkle of joy whenever we hear a song for the first time live, so I’m looking forward to it already!

The final part of the show was getting closer with “Starless,” a cover song originally by KING CRIMSON. I have to admit that I am not familiar with the original, but that doesn’t really matter to me because the atmosphere and melancholy that was created was enough to convince me of the song’s beauty. The next music video was somewhat of a premiere as well, as “The End” hadn’t been released yet as a music video, so fans could enjoy the first moments to check out another mellow, emotional, introspective video focused on the artist’s feelings. Next up, “Mental Jungle” from Anneke‘s successful album, “Drive,” was a great addition to the setlist, balancing out the emotional rollercoaster. The last song of the night was “Weary,” after which Anneke talked to the audience again, wishing everyone well and expressing her hopes of seeing everyone soon and hoping for everyone to stay safe and happy.

Altogether, the stream was fairly minimal, with only Anneke van Giersbergen, her voice, and her guitar, yet it was proof of how you don’t need a lot of resources to make something as successful as this stream really was. There were plenty of elements that gave this concert a little bit more punch, such as the beautiful setting in which Anneke was playing, the atmospheric lighting, the smooth camera work, and of course, the performance with her son. All of these elements lifted up the performance of these songs and gave us a first glimpse of how Anneke will play these songs around the globe once the pandemic is over. Oh… and then there’s three great bonus tracks, one of which features Devin Townsend (a bonus version of “The Soul Knows”) which I didn’t know existed, but is a truly great little collaboration! All-in-all, I’m happy I got to experience a boring Sunday lockdown night with Anneke van Giersbergen, who made my day a little brighter as the darkest skies are upon us once again.

Written by Laureline Tilkin
Source photos: The Darkest Skies Virtual Experience

Setlist

  1. The Soul Knows
  2. 1000 Miles
  3. Agape (music video)
  4. Like a Stone (AUDIOSLAVE cover)
  5. Lo & Behold
  6. I Saw a Car (music video)
  7. Losing You
  8. Hurricane (music video)
  9. Love You Like I Love You
  10. Strange Machines (THE GATHERING)
  11. Starless (KING CRIMSON cover)
  12. The End (music video)
  13. Mental Jungle
  14. Weary