Following a five year gap after disbanding in 2014, Anberlin returned to the City of Churches on a cold Thursday night as part of their first headline dates outside a one-off show in their home state of Florida.
One of Adelaide’s favourite rock outfits, Capulet returned to the HQ stage to open the show. This was the band’s first gig in six years and the enthusiastic crowd liked their sound, with the largest applause for their debut release We Won’t Let Go.
Australia holds special memories for Anberlin so to make these performances as special as possible, they centred the set list predominantly from their classic 2005’s Never Take Friendship Personal and 2007’s Cities records,as well as a handful of fan favourite hits. This is special for Anberlin fans of all ages who have waited in hope that their band would consider re-forming and returning to Australia once again. And even the 5-year gap was not forgotten as there was a large crowd to witness this special show. And they were not to be disappointed.
Members walked on stage to a roaring welcome, with Stephen Christian dressed in his traditional blue denim jacket with the sleeves pushed up, the last to enter to the loudest applause. Godspeed from Cities album was the first song of the show which got all fans into a frenzy and then straight into Never Take Friendship Personal from the album of the same name. Most notable was the range and clarity of Christian’s vocals still strong as ever.
Stephen commented about the first time they landed in Adelaide. They stayed across the road upstairs in Hindley Street and were told that their show was sold out. That’s why they keep coming back to Adelaide, as it is one of their favourite memories of the band’s first tour outside of the United States. Next was the hit single Paperthin Hymn, a crowd favourite that saw them singing every word. Stephen introduced his friend Ryan from US band Yellowcard, who has replaced Joey Milligan on guitar for this tour. Audrey, Start the Revolution! was followed by Hello Alone which had the crowd singing the chorus loud and clear! Stephen thanked everybody for singing along and he wanted all to lose their voices by the end of the show.
Stephen introduced the next song saying “that we had to write a song about the town that left such an impact on us”, and commenced Adelaide. Stephen invited a loyal fan up on stage who knew every word of Anberlin’s songs and they sung Stationary Stationery together. Impossible was next and the only song played from 2010 release Dark is the Way Light is a Place. By now the crowd were in the band’s hands and Stephen commented ‘that about a year ago we started to hang out and Australia just came up, and if this is the last time, you all will not be forgotten’. The Symphony of Blasé was a smash hit and the audience sung every word, especially the chorus ‘is this our last goodbye’. Adjacent to where I was standing were a group of lads linked in arm in arm with several shedding tears during the song. The ballad Inevitable was next followed by rocky The Unwinding Cable Car and they moved straight into the fast paced We Are Destroyer from Lowborn the 2014 album.
Next up was Stephen’s favourite song from the Vital 2012 release Self-Starter with Stephen commenting at the end of the song ‘wow man this is good, thank u very much with our appreciation’. Disappear and Someone Anyone followed with Stephen commenting ‘this has been incredible, we only have one more night on the tour thank you very much’ and launched into The Resistance from the New Surrender. Dismantle Repair followed with lots of crowd participation in the chorus. The hit single Feel Good Drag was the final song of the set which the crowd loved and desperately wanted more.
After a short break with the crowd screaming for more Anberlin, the band returned to the stage for their encore and one last song – their closing anthem Fin. When Stephen finished the last words of the song, he waved farewell to a huge applause and departed the stage with the band finishing the song and then saying farewell once again.
For all Anberlin fans, this was a majestic evening; a true celebration of Anberlin songs witnessed by a strong base of fans. Let us hope Anberlin have found that spark and energy and think seriously about making their band a permanent fixture on the rock circuit once again in the future.
Live Review by David Kerr