Last year, Anberlin announced that they would be bringing their 17-year career to an end. It was a sad moment for all in the industry as Anberlin had carved out a niche for themselves in alternative rock, and no one could believe that the band had finally decided to call it quits. Luckily, for some, Anberlin announced that they would be doing a farewell tour to coincide with the release of their final album Lowborn. I say “for some” because there were a lot of people all over the world that never actually got to see Anberlin perform live simply because geography sucks, and living in a country like South Africa often means that bands overlook performing here when they announce “world tours”.
However, my disappointment was tempered slightly when I found out that Anberlin would be releasing their New York performance of Never Take Friendship Personal as a live CD. Never Take Friendship Personal was the first Anberlin album to which I ever listened, it had an enormous impact on my life. It was a constant source of hope and reassurance when everything seemed its darkest, but this is not an article about teen angst, rather one about celebrating a band that made such a positive impact on many lives.
This performance of Never Take Friendship Personal is the closest I will ever come to actually experiencing Anberlin live. Realizing that was actually a rather sad moment, it also explains why I took so long to sit down with this album and actually listen to it. There was a part of me that knew by listening to this album, that I would finally be admitting to myself that Anberlin are gone and I shall never see them live. I knew that I would never be able to hear “Stationary Stationery”, “Paperthin Hymn”, or “The Feel Good Drag” performed in the flesh, but at the same time I knew that somehow this album would be able to capture that experience and translate it into an audio format that would transport me to that particular show.
That is precisely what happened. A lot of live albums are often not true live albums as there is often post-show production work done on the sound of the album – often to make everything sound cleaner and edit out the crowd slightly to give clarity to the band’s sound. That is not the case here. Each note is captured in its raw and pure format, and you’re catapulted into an audio experience that has you chanting and screaming along with the eager crowd that you can hear swelling up from behind the band. It is beautiful. It is raw. It is a moment of serene and poignant honesty, and it is everything that ever made Anberlin brilliant.
One could say that Lowborn was the perfect way to end their career, but I say that Never Take Friendship Personal – Live in New York City was the perfect way for Anberlin to end their career. It shows the band at their finest, and is one final goodbye to a loyal fanbase that may have never gotten an opportunity to see the band live. Anberlin, you shall be missed.