VUUR + VOTUM @ Magazzini Generali, Milano – 24/02/2018 (ENG)

by Leonardo Cervio

Italian version

Second descent in Italy for VUUR: after having been a guest for Epica the last 2nd December, the Dutch band guided by Anneke Van Giersbergen returns in “the Belpaese” for a headliner date at Magazzini Generali in Milan, with the polish Votum.

A progressive metal evening was what awaited me at Magazzini Generali: Anneke and her crew have impressed me so much with their last album”In This Moment We Are Free – Cities” that the wait was spasmodic, especially after the great performances with Epica in the last tour. In this show, they were supported by the polish Votum: I didn’t know them, but they positively struck me, as your’re going to read it in the next lines.

My trip companion and I arrived in Milan at 5:30 AM, and the temperature was relatively good: at the location there were already fifteen fans, and we lined up behind them. But we hadn’t to wait much time, because we were allowed to enter the club 30 minutes ahead of schedule. After placing jacket and bag, we ran to the stage in order to conquer the first row, and we placed ourselves on its left (not so difficult, given that there weren’t so much fans in the location yet). For this reason we were a bit suprised when, at 7 AM, everything went 60 minutes ahead of schedule, and Votum were ready to begin their show.


You can understand immediately that Votum have something different from most of the other bands: creators of a particular progressive metal, which avoids the technicalities in favour of dark and “dreamy” atmospheres, the band was a great suprise. In fact, I can state that the live version of the songs succeed in recreating the dark atmosphere of the last album, “:Ktonik:“. The band wasn’t discouraged by the few fans present at the beginning of their show (approximately, fifty of us), and gave us a 360° experience. Every member of the band lived every note of every song with full passion, the frontman Bartosz Sobiera completely transposed himself into the songs and his performance was absolutely excellent. It’s a shame the first songs were affected by unperfect calibrated sounds; especially the vocals and the guitars were overwhelmed by drums and bass guitar. Fortunately, the problems were solved after the first three songs and the rest of the setlist proceeded without obstacles. Song by song, the fans became gradually more sympathetic with band, and their enthusiasm grew constantly (justifiably, given that the Votum’s progressive metal requires a lot of time to be understood completely). The setlist was focused on the last album, released in 2016: honorable mentions for “Prometheus” and “Spiral“, when the band and the fans let loose themselves to headbanging. At the end , the crowd warmingly greeted Votum, after a high atmospherical-rated show.


The Void
New Song


Meanwhile, when Votum’s show was coming to the end, the number of fans gradually increased: at that time, we were probably 120-150 people. We hadn’t to wait much for the Dutch, and the band entered the stage on the notes of “Time – Rotterdam“: our welcome was warm-hearted, but we were a bit surprised by the absence of bass player Johan Von Stratum. At the end of the song, and after the rightful regards, Anneke explained to us that Johan was forced to abandon the tour to take care of his mother in Holland, but however they have recorded the bass in order to provide for his temporary departure. The news saddened us a bit: for both Johan’s family problems and because we were afraid that, because of his stage presence, it could represent a big lack, given that Johan is the life of the party. Fortunately, the band didn’t give us time to reflect too much and “My Champion – Berlin” raised the speed and the power bars. After the two opening tracks of the album, Anneke and partners proposed us the first cover of evening: “On Most Surfaces – Inuit” of the The Gathering, the most famous of Anneke’s past bands. And the response of the audience was enthusiastic, as it would be for the whole evening: the frontwoman didn’t stop thanking us and remaining warmly struck by our involvement. The tones slowed down with “The Martyr and The Saint – Beirut“, before plunging us in the past with “The Storm“, this time taken from The Gentle Storm (Anneke and Arjen Lucassen’s project) and sung lodly from the crowd.

Halfway through the concert the lights went down, guitars and drums momentarily left the place to Anneke’s angelic voice and the acoustic guitar: “Like to Stone“, Audioslave cover, was simply thrilling and emotional, with Anneke’s vocal performance sending shivers. Being moved had never been so easy, and more than one person fell into this dreaming trap. The acoustic moment continued, but the atmosphere became more lighter with the Ayreon’s cover “Valley of Queens“. Here Anneke had trouble with her ukulele, unable to stay in tune: after 2/3 minutes of attempts (and a liberatory “Fuck it” from our lady), the ukulele was finally ready to accompany Anneke, well supported by Ferry Duijsens.

After a mix between past and present, the band returned to crush on with “Days Go By – London” (my favourite song, and Ferry seemed to notice this), with Anneke who perfectly managed herself in the central part. The sonorous latch continued with “Freedom – Rio“, with Anneke’s voice at the center of the scene once again, before perfectly mixing with the band in the following “Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki“. With “Strange Machines” we returned to the The Gathering era, and the audience response was stronger than ever.

The band went for a moment behind the scenes, before returning for the big ending, hailed by the public: with “Fallout“, VUUR proposed us a song from the last project in which Anneke had participated during her career, the Devin Townsend Project.
The ballad “Reunite – Paris” closes the set, spasmodically craved by the yours truly. Anneke gives the last pearl of a top evening guiding magnificently the song up to an explosive (emotionally speaking) climax, also thanks to the smile which the singer gave to me and my travel companion, almost thanking us for the whole support shown during the concert.

The negative notes of this evening were a few, and they can be reassumed in two/three points: the not so perfect sound at the beginning of the evening, which had gone away along the set, and the bass, audible only in a minimal way. Something that disappointed me was the lack of the bands’ merchandise, but by the way: a pleasant surprise as opener, arousing headliners and a lot of good music. In other words, a fantastic evening.


My Champion – Berlin
On Most Surfaces – Inuit (The Gathering cover)
The Martyr and The Saint – Beirut
The Storm (The Gentle Storm cover)
Like a Stone (Audioslave cover)
Valley of Queens (Ayreon cover)
Days Go By – London
Freedom – Rio
Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki
Strange Machines (The Gathering cover)
Fallout (Devin Townsend Project cover)

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