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The Gentle Storm - The Garage, London - April 23 2015 (Live Review)

Monday, 27 April 2015 Written by Alec Chillingworth

The word 'epic' is overused to the point of saturation. I'm sure you think that your new Heelys are epic, mate, but live renditions of songs from The Gentle Storm's debut, 'The Diary', really do live up to the billing.

As Endless Sea flows from the PA system it feels like the Garage is being swallowed by a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. Anneke van Giersbergen arrives on stage and belts out those instantly recognisable, honey-soaked vocals, effortlessly jumping from a sweet murmur to full-blown, soaring melodies.

The rest of the band plunge head-first into 90 minutes of utter splendour. Arjen Lucassen, the mastermind behind this project, doesn't tour, but no matter. Ferry Duijsens and Merel Bechtold handle his duties with extreme care. Bechtold whacks out the solo to Heart Of Amsterdam like she memorised it in primary school, leaving no nuance unfiddled.

Setlist-wise, The Gentle Storm plough through the majority of 'The Diary''s accessible prog. The rumbling number that is The Storm is aired early on, and an acoustic portion of the set sees The Moment become a genuine, well, moment.

A mid-set highlight emerges with Van Giersbergen alone on stage, chatting with self deprecating humour before launching into a superb take on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. Bear in mind that, at this point, the band have torn through The Gathering's Eléanor. There's something about Van Giersbergen absolutely slaying a classic song that makes for a particular triumph.

Stream Of Passion's Marcela Bovio provides some welcome help during an acoustic, bare bones cover of Ayreon's Valley Of The Queens, but the evening peaks when the band morphs back into the crackling, electrified beast that started the show. There's an inevitable cover of The Gathering's Strange Machines, and no matter how many times you see it, it’s hard to tire of Van Giersbergen grinning through what is, in essence, a Lamb Of God riff.

A left-field airing of Devin Townsend's Fallout is the penultimate number, and this is where Van Giersbergen really leaves her mark. On record, her guest vocals are nice enough, but pale in comparison to Townsend's majestic roars. Tonight, she lets rip on the verses, emitting an unrestrained, punchy vibrato that is one of her strongest vocal performances to date. 

'The Diary' stands as one of the year's most gleefully excessive, unashamedly fun records thus far, and Anneke van Giersbergen is the best live vocalist in rock right now.

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