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The Gathering - A Sound Relief review

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Band: The Gathering
Album: A Sound Relief
Style: Experimental rock
Release date: October 2005

Disc I [Live At Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL, May 23rd 2005]
01. The Big Sleep
02. Broken Glass
03. Rescue Me
04. Alone
05. Travel
06. Red Is A Slow Colour
07. A Life All Mine
08. Golden Grounds
09. Amity
10. In Motion II
11. Marooned
12. Souvenirs
13. Like Fountains
14. Herbal Movement

Disc II [bonus features]
01. Tour Impression 2004
02. Dutch TV special: 15 Years The Gathering
03. Italian TV Special

Animation Music Clips:
04. Marooned
05. The Big Sleep
06. Alone
07. Broken Glass
08. A Life All Mine
09. Red Is A Slow Colour

The long awaited event in the history of The Gathering took place at Paradiso, Amsterdam on the 23rd of May 2005 when the band held two concerts on the same day for DVD recording. It was a special event because during the 15 years of their existence no proper live footage has been released. True, Century Media had the "In Motion" DVD issued in 2002 but the band had no saying in its production. It’s also special, because the recording of the DVD is their only live event of the year (if you don't count a small warm-up gig five days earlier).

It hasn't really occurred to me to have a seated gig but after seeing this show I cannot agree more that to enjoy The Gathering's music live you would need something that looks like the Paradiso theater. A beautiful place, if I'm to judge its inner appearance; it's something that fits the music. The stage set-up is appropriately great, even to the small details. Starting from the big ornamented windows of the theater in the back wall and huge video screen in the center, drums and keyboards on the pedestals in the back, respectively on the left and right, ending with guitar on the left, bass on the right and Anneke in the front with the microphone decorated with flowers.

The lighting is kept in the warm tones: shades of yellow, red, and green, add to the rich color of the music itself. The show is filmed with many cameras and each member of the band has a fair share of the screen time. You are often switched between different cameras, different angles and close-ups and even get to see some of the video material projected on the screen at the back of the stage. Even though I generally dislike such cuts while watching the show, this time it was very fitting with the music. And although the band itself is not very dynamic on the stage, by all these variations you still get the impression of the slowly flowing river. Slow, because of the music.

What is important here is that the sound production is awesome. If the "In Motion" DVD had pretty lousy sound then this time you are served with top quality, properly balanced instruments and sound levels. Most of the material played originates from the "How to Measure a Planet?" and "Souvenirs" albums with a couple of songs from "if_then_else," "Mandylion" and even "Almost a Dance." As the band promised before the recording, the songs performed are the slower, mellow and more beautiful parts of their work. But as the fans of The Gathering already know, slow rarely means simple in their music. The changing nature and many layers give plenty to listen to and look at. René skillfully playing guitar, Marjolein, their not so new bass-player, enjoying the show on the bass, Hans drumming complicated rhythms, Frank creating atmosphere on keyboards and of course the unmatchable Anneke singing. She's still one of the best and most emotional singers around.

All these members together as one, enjoying the performance, playing for themselves and for the audience, with passion and devotion, is what makes this show special. It's the simple truth that while you watch and listen you are part of another world. You are somewhere else on the visual journey with the band wishing for the emotional atmosphere to last. And even though my opinion of the band may be biased the live performance was absolutely outstanding. If you add to it a very good production then you get a product that is brilliant. I tend to think that this release is the best one of my collection, even if I take a half point away it's because I wasn't there. People who like The Gathering's latest works will not be disappointed. Others should at least have a look at it to know what quality means.

Written on 16.10.2005 by I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.

And one day I'm going to start a band. We're going to be playing pun-rock.

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