This was the second time The Gathering visited Slovakia. First time it was in June of 1997 during a tour after the release of Nighttime Birds album and so much changed since then...
The concert was announced to begin at 19:00, however it really started a bit more then hour later and one of support bands, Dying Passion from Czech Republic, didn't appeared at all. So first band which actually played was Autumn.
Everyone who likes The Gathering's Nighttime Birds era should give Autumn a try. Not very original, but songs, performance and vocals were great. I especially liked parts where singer and guitar player sang together. As a support band they didn't had too much time for them to play, unfortunately, coz they had very positive effect on crowd. However I think that they should try to focus on to develop their 'own face' a bit more, this reminiscence of The Gathering's past was sometimes a bit too strong.
In following break, while all members of Autumn posed for photographers, signed posters and booklets and talked with fans, The Gathering started to prepare for their part. Fans know that the last album, The West Pole, doesn't feature vocals of unbeatable goddess of female singers, Anneke. The main frontwoman is now Silje Wergeland from Norway. The album is one of the bests in their discography, so I was really looking forward to see them live.
Everything began (quite expectedly) with instrumental song of last album. In this song Silje played together with Frank on keyboards. Intro finished, Silje moved to the centre of stage and showed us all that she is now real part of group and no one should mourn about Anneke any more. 'Her' songs from The West Pole sounded as well as from CD. Of course some older songs were also played, in them she sang like Anneke and difference between her own style and style of Anneke was quite noticeable.
However singing of songs composed for one of best vocalists ever is a real challenge. And the result was unexpectedly good. While I must admit that Silje doesn't have this colourful and strong of voice which Anneke has, its also true that she sang everything as it should be. The Gathering chosen well and I hope they will stay together for a very long time. Also her performance on stage felt good, lot of smiles, it looked she really enjoyed the show, very positive and likeable.
Only little disappointment of the evening was missing bass player Marjolein, she couldn't come because of her work or something like it. However they found really good temporary replacement for her, the band's original bass player Hugo Geerligs. Well, I will have to wait for her signature until next time... but who knows, it was maybe the last chance to see The Gathering playing together with Hugo, so maybe it made this evening even more special then was planned.
I will not comment the stable part of band in big detail. René performed his guitar magic, Frank played keyboards and I think he also took care about samples (thanks to samples songs sounded almost the same as on the albums) and Hans gave never-failing rhythmical support. The result was excellent musical experience, exactly on level I expected from them.
One weaker point was sound. Atmospheric passages were perfect, but in heavier parts sound of keyboards was a bit lost. It was possible to hear everything, but a little bit of higher volume would be nice. Still, it wasn't too bad and it didn't ruin the experience at all.
The show ended at 23:10 and again started a big session with taking photos, signing, talking... Naturally it was Silje who had the most followers at her heels, but she behaved very friendly and I really hope I didn't bothered her too much. O:-).
It's too soon so say that it was the best live show I experienced in 2010, but I have feeling it will be among the bests for sure. Let's hope that on their next tour they will come to Slovakia again.