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(Image: © TINA KORHONEN)

VUUR at The Dome, London – live review

Even for an artist as prolific and musically adventurous as Anneke van Giersbergen, launching a new project to shift your already successful career into a new, heavier direction can be a risk.

Fortunately, The Dome is comfortably full tonight for VUUR on their first headline tour.

Where the production on their progressive metal debut, In This Moment We Are Free – Cities, was so polished that it could feel clinical at times, on stage the songs really blossom into life. They open with Time – Rotterdam and with van Giersbergen adding a third guitar alongside riff Jord Otto and Ferry Duijsens, the sound is rich and powerful.

While there are backing tracks providing keyboards and the occasional string arrangement throughout the set, this is not an attempt to slavishly recreate the studio recordings. The breakdown in Time – Rotterdam hits much harder live, with the band pushing the limits of their dynamic range when they punch in and out of the riff. As the frontwoman, van Giersbergen exudes positivity and it’s refreshing to see a band playing heavy, intense music while having fun. There’s no angst, macho posturing or gurning anywhere in sight, instead everyone is smiling and laughing. My Champion – Berlin throws djent into the mix with those deep drop-tuned licks from Otto and Duijsens’ seven-string guitars, while van Giersbergen nails the high notes with power and clarity.

They dip into the singer’s recent back catalogue for The Storm, from The Gentle Storm, while the audience sing along to The Martyr And The Saint – Beirut much to van Giersbergen’s delight.

“You already know the words, this is super!” she says, beaming. While the track has a tough, pummelling beat courtesy of Ed Warby’s creative groove-laden drumming, van Giersbergen allows herself plenty of room to sing with long notes that glide over the heaviness beneath them. She absolutely belts out Days Go By – London, taking a moment to pull out her phone and film the crowd, and that’s followed by Fallout from Devin Townsend’s Z2 record, played with more meat on the bones than the studio version.

The main set wraps with Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki as bassist Johan van Stratum bounds about the stage. “You make me so happy,” says van Giersbergen, returning for the encore. “I will cry after the show otherwise I’ll look like Alice Cooper!” Reunite! – Paris sees the singer reaching notes so vertiginously high she could do opera, before the grand finale of The Gathering’s Strange Machines from 1995. It’s a fitting conclusion as The Gathering were the band that launched van Giersbergen’s career but it’s clear from the vibrancy and passion shown tonight that both her heart and future are with VUUR.