[LIVE REVIEW] anberlin @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 29/05/2019

I consider myself fairly well rounded musically, especially when it comes to radio-friendly American rock which is my genre of choice, but Anberlin had completely passed me by.  I turned to Spotify to educate me a bit before this gig and there was not a single “aaahhh, I know this song” moment.  Nothing, nada, niet.  I had literally, never heard of them.  But turning up to the Forum last night, I find the floor already packed for the start of the support band.  Anberlin must be a guy band.  I’d reckon it’s at least a 3:1 ratio.  A mix of checked shirts, beanies, beards (of course) with the occasional top knot, a few with girlfriends on tow, but mostly groups of guys.  I’m intrigued.

Opening for Anberlin is Melbourne’s own Antiskeptic.  Singer and guitarist Andrew Kitchen, tells us that they toured with Anberlin on their first tour of Australia in 2005.  “They’re like the American Us.” He says. “Brothers from another mother.”  Antiskeptic plays guitar-based, atmospheric rock.  Performing tonight as a 3 piece with original members Andrew Kitchen and Nick Coppin, joined by Sean Daly on bass.  Sean dressed in 3 piece suit with his beard in a ponytail (is that a beardytail?), he looked more suited to System of a Down and Download than the Forum.  Being the Aussie version of Anberlin meant there was a lot of fan crossover and their set was very well received.

The lights dim and the crowd got loud.  Anberlin opens with the upbeat Godspeed followed by Never Take Friendship Personal (the grammar nazi in me struggles with that one).  It is clear after just these first 2 songs, but also from listening to a live album on Spotify, that a staple in Anberlin’s live show is plenty of singalong and crowd response opportunities.  And the all-male pit obliged enthusiastically with a heartfelt “I really don’t care” during the bridge of this song.  Lead singer and founding member, Stephen Christian is up on the rail, pumping the crowd up.

This is the 13th time that Anberlin have toured Australia since 2005, their last outing being 5 years ago on their “farewell” tour.  They have even written a song about Australia entitled Adelaide.  Apparently, at the Brisbane gig, they even found someone in the audience called Adelaide that they could sing too.  There was much audience participation.  Stephen commenced an impromptu Q & A session inviting questions from members of the audience (although he declined the request to show his tattoo).  He also made a point of calling out people he’d met at the meet and greet sessions that had travelled and been to multiple shows.  Including the girl from Tassie who had quit her job as they wouldn’t give her the time off.  Now that’s dedication and I love it when bands acknowledge this dedication and don’t take it for granted.

The middle of the set slowed the pace a bit with a number of more balladic (new word, I just made it up) songs including Inevitable, The Unwinding Cable Car and (The Symphony of) Blasé.  Before picking up the pace again towards the end of their 20 song main set.  The encore was the appropriately named Fin.

So last night, I went from completely ignorant, to a fan.  With wordy verses and hella catchy choruses, Anberlin ticks a lot of musical checklists.  They gave an energetic, engaging performance with good patter from Stephen Christian, and I just love a band that has fans that love them.  It’s the difference between going to a gig not knowing a single song and still having a great time, and being bored stiff.  I’ll be sure to go along on their next farewell tour.

Review Contributed by Wendy Smith

Gallery by Vanessa Jarvis