It really is the end of an era. When I was seventeen, Cities was the album. You’d be welcome to try and find a more complete alt rock record from that year, but you’d be searching in vain. Anyway, the indomitable Anberlin were finally giving it all away, and they were doing it in a style that made no one doubt their intentions: a farewell world tour, selling shirts that had the farewell dates and the relevant city’s name. As MEB’s own Connor Feimster pointed out, that’s one hell of an expensive way to bow out.
No time to question how fiscally sound this idea was, though. Openers Breakway had hit the stage, and their inoffensive blend of pop punk and post-hardcore (i.e. entirely pop punk except for one song where their front dude screamed the outro) was enjoyable, but a little bland. Still, they certainly had fun and their die hard fans at the front appeared to enjoy their work too. They’re on tour at the moment, so check them out if you get a chance.
Up next were Australia’s woulda-coulda-shoulda-didn’t biggest band ever, The Getaway Plan. These guys had everything going for them when they formed, releasing a killer EP and a badass debut record and then they gave it away for a couple of years before coming back and releasing the snooze-fest that is Requiem, trying desperately to reclaim some of that relevance back. Unfortunately, Requiem is an album of “epic” ballads that run over time and leave you waiting for them to get to the point. The lyrics are also awful; I’ve seen drunken sexual solicitations smeared on bathroom walls that had a better grasp of prose than TGP, but damn it, they’re persisting and you’ve got to admire that pig-headed unwillingness to face facts. They played mostly new stuff (because of course they did), but they finished with “Shadows” and “Where the City Meets the Sea”, but they’re also really boring live and I just wanted their set to end. They’re crowd funding a new album right now, though, so if you want to invest in a sinking ship, you can find the link here.
The point of tonight, however, was Anberlin. They hit the stage to a wave of emotion, and it welled over when they opened with “Paperthin Hymn” and everyone realised that they were never going to see “Paperthin Hymn” live ever again. It didn’t get any easier as the night went on, but it was less of a funeral and more of a wake. The vibe was not one of sadness, but of rejoicing in a life well-lived, and damn, dude, Anberlin made every microsecond count. The only song I would have liked to have heard that they didn’t play was “Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen”, but when they’re playing a two hour set, you just let the men do what they want.
The band played with an animalistic ferocity; energy, enthusiasm and passion gushing out of every orifice (eww…), because the band were just aware as any of us that this was their last chance to play in Sydney. Stephen also made the ultimate cock-tease when he said “Y’know, we were talking the other day in Fremantle, and we said that if we were ever going to play another show again, it would be Soundwave Festival and nowhere else. We love you guys, and I’m telling you, your country would be our only option.”
However, there was no doubt that this is it. These guys are never, ever, ever getting back together (and now it’s stuck in your head). The words, the atmosphere, the sheer scale of the tour, the fact that two thousand people rocked up, means that any return would simply be wrong. The band were playing like it was their last day on earth, and in a way, it is.
Their seminal albums, Cities and Never Take Friendship Personal deservedly took the bulk of the playlist, but they showed respect to their later and earlier work, with the classic “Readyfuels” really making the crowd hit a new level. My personal favourite track of Dark is the Way, Light is a Place, “Art of War”, also made a strong impact. Finishing the set proper with “Godspeed” and “Feel Good Drag” (at which point Stephen Christian leapt into the crowd and was all “DISCOURSE YOUR SAAAVING SOOOONG” while standing on people’s heads, they left the stage for about forty seconds (during which time a lot of people left for whatever reason…) before coming back on for the perfect encore: “(*Fin)”. Of course it was “(*Fin)”. Anything else would have been wrong, I say, wrong! The best touch of the night was the addition of lyrics from the outro of “Harbinger” to the outro of “(*Fin)”, reiterating the finality of the night. People were physically shaking, weeping their little hearts out because it was, truly, all over.
It should be noted that, apart from these lyrics, Lowborn did not feature in the night at all, and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing more aggravating than watching a band play all their new stuff, let alone on their farewell tour. So never fear, my friends: Anberlin love you and know that you don’t want to hear any new stuff on this tour. You won’t have to learn any new songs. There’s no pressure. You just need to enjoy the moment with them.
We Owe This to Ourselves
Never Take Friendship Personal
(The Symphony of) Blasé
Take Me (As You Found Me)
The Unwinding Cable Car
Art of War
Time & Confusion
A Day Late
Feel Good Drag