The Gathering in The Hague


Continuing this year’s trend of ‘going to see bands I don’t know’, last night we travelled to The Hague to see The Gathering play a singer/songwriter festival on ‘Queen’s Day Eve’. It is the night before Dutch national holiday ‘Queen’s Day’, not dissimilar in atmosphere to Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day. They dress in green, the Dutch wear orange. Both nations fancy their beer.

Not the most ideal night to be walking The Hague streets. Long before midnight the punters were drunk, the atmosphere inflammable. Loud music burst from overflowing pubs, young men pissing on every corner and in between.

We skipped the other bands for an extended visit to local Chinese restaurant Kee Lun Palace (of the ‘mostly chinese people eat here’ variety, thus excellent) and arrived at the venue at the end of Bettie Serveert’s set. Bettie Serveert were and still are a highly derivative band, with a mediocre vocalist and boring tunes.

Just the opposite then, from headliners The Gathering whose set started at 12.30 am. Originally a ‘death metal‘ band, they refuse to be pigeonholed and continue to progress. I have largely ignored them in the past, but their current line up and vibe is appealing: gothic, ethereal rock with pleasing, dramatic melodies, clever arrangements and excellent singing. Their musicianship stands out. Chart topping copycats Evanescence simply do not measure up to the standard The Gathering set.

The short festival set focused on their newer, ‘lighter’ material which held my attention for a long time. I did appreciate the later venture into their more metal influenced songs. Anneke van Giersbergen is an accomplished singer, but I’m not completely convinced by her as a performer. There’s an element of plastic about her work – the gestures, facial expressions seem a little forced. Still, impressive warbling. She could mix it up a little more — her one ‘spoken’ vocal stood out in a good way.

Too bad the Italian fan couldn’t keep from singing along loudly to the most fragile song. Lady, you’ve a pretty voice, but really – keep it in the shower.

22 pictures, mostly of vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen. All taken with the Ixus 400.