The Gathering are in town, heading south from their Northern Orange base for the first time in, well, a long time, and for the concert goers of Athens this poses a quite literal large problem. An international band invariably brings a number of fellow countrymen along in the form of crew, family and well, i guess, fans, but coming from Holland, tonight sees the general size of the audience grow half a foot. The perils of supporting a band from the tallest Nation in the world i guess. Nevermind, the concert, criminally undersold, was made up in vertical size and impeccable English. Still, for those who stayed away it was their loss as, for those peering around their Northern Brethren, the band delivered a beautiful dreamlike mix of new and fan favorites.
Opening with the moody ‘Black Light District’ with singer Silje Wergeland playing the opening stark piano melody silhouetted against a sole back light, set the evening for an atmospheric evening of gorgeous melodies and textures. The rest of the band joined her to kick the song in before ‘Paralyzed’ followed with its slow marching drum beat. Next saw ‘Meltdown’ arriving and the distortion pedals were kicked in and the gig took off. Led by guitarist and co founder Rene Rutten (along with drummer Hans Rutten), the band led the audience through their ethereal sound of dreamy layered backings of strings and arpeggiated guitars that allowed singer Silje Wergeland’s vocals to soar and cascade.
A minimal light set up and no backing screens meant the music was the sole focus and songs like ‘Maroon’, ‘Paper Leaves’ and ‘Saturnine’ were beautifully performed and warmly received by a dedicated following. By the time they closed with the building ‘Heroes for Ghosts’ the band had the crowd exactly where they wanted.
Returning for a brutal ‘Nighttime Birds’ from 1997 that bordered on industrial and even featured a crowd sing along they then closed the set with an incredible ‘I can see four Miles’. A fitting end with an extended instrumental outro featuring a fabulous guitar solo using a theremin that raised the noise threshold considerably, the way every gig should end. And with that, they were gone, amongst the thank yous there were plenty of smiles and thumbs up that showed the band were enjoying it just as much as the audience. Hup Hup! Welcome back.
Earlier in the evening local band Fragile Vastness had entertained us with a high tempo and uplifting brand of rock. Lead singer Elena Stratigopoulou showcasing her impressive vocal talents with a powerful performance of songs such as ‘Face in the mirror’, ‘Wall of Glass’ and ‘From East to West’, backed by a very tight band.