Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen celebrated her 25th anniversary in music with two special shows last month. Most singers would probably have a few weeks off after something like that but Anneke van Giersbergen is already back on tour, this time with an orchestra. Over the years Anneke has released lots of her own music, been the singer of The Gathering, recorded and performed multiple times with Devin Townsend, as well as a range of other artists including Anathema, Icelandic folk group Árstíðir, Within Temptation, Ayreon, Holland’s biggest band BLØF, Amorphis, John Wetton and Napalm Death. It’s fair to say she’s a very influential singer, particularly in the Netherlands. Having recorded music that ranges from rock, to Prog, to pop, to metal and even classical, she’s certainly a versatile performer, and that is reflected in tonight’s show.
Tonight’s show is part of her tour of towns in the Brabant region of the Netherlands and she’s doing it with an orchestra. It’s not her first time performing with an orchestra – a special show in The Hague 18 months ago was a huge success and was released on CD afterwards. The show tonight opens with the orchestra and conductor taking to the stage and performing the opening number with no sign of Anneke. It’s a fair way into it that we get to hear her voice for the first time tonight as she sings from somewhere out of sight – only being revealed at the end of the song. It’s a great opening and allows the orchestra a chance to shine. From there we have a diverse setlist, with some classical numbers, some rock/metal, some songs that Anneke either wrote or performed, and some covers.
As a rock and metal fan I’m used to hearing Anneke van Giersbergen performing her solo material, or performing with her metal band Vuur, or singing with Ayreon or Devin Townsend, and it’s clear her voice is not just powerful but beautiful, but when she performs the classical songs tonight with the orchestra backing her, you really hear just how amazing her voice is. It’s a very different style to rock or metal and to excel in both is rare but Anneke does it.
From Anneke’s past we get songs such as “Mental jungle” as well as the Ayreon/Gentle Storm song “Valley of the Queens”, with the latter being an encore and performed with just 3 violins and a cello rather than the whole orchestra which gives it a much softer more delicate feel and really focusses the attention on those lovely vocals. The covers are songs you might not expect her to choose but she does a superb job with them all, the Queen cover being a particular highlight. Covering a band like Queen is risky – the original song is so well known and loved that an okay cover wouldnt do – any cover has to be exceptionally good to win over fans of the original, and Anneke van Giersbergen manages it with ease.
Like the 2018 shows in The Hague, tonight’s show worked extremely well – whereas some bands perform with an orchestra and don’t really get the full benefit, Anneke has chosen to use the orchestra instead of a band rather than to supplement the band, and the songs have been carefully chosen and arranged to bring out the best of the orchestra and the best of her vocals. I saw some cameras filming the show so I hope we can look forward to a live CD/DVD at some point.
A fantastic night.
Elegy Tsjaikovski / Waar ben ik meneer
Heute nacht oder nie
Who wants to live forever
Bist du bei mir
Let the light in
O del mio dolce ardor
Hunting high and low
Valley of the queens