Music Reviews — 21 March 2013
Anberlin at Irving Plaza: A Concert Review

Irving Plaza, New York, NY
March 20, 2013

Concert Review: Anberlin at Irving Plaza

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At we are always pleasantly surprised when a band’s live performance manages to blow away their studio efforts. Such was the case on Wednesday night at Irving Plaza, judging by the mass of moshers and crowd surfers on hand to get a glimpse of Florida’s Anberlin. With support from All Get Out and Paper Route, the band’s nearly 75 minute set was much harder and more energetic than we anticipated. And that’s surely a good thing.

The five piece band took the stage shortly after 9:30pm and as the lights drew black, the sea of fans up front were drawn into a frenzy as each band member strode out front. With the corded microphone held firmly in his back pocket, frontman Stephen Christian was the last to emerge but unsurprisingly drew much of the crowd’s adulation. The show started off with a fast paced fury as the band jolted into opener “The Resistance,” with Christian’s high pitched vocals pairing brilliantly with lead guitarist Joseph Milligan’s tantalizingly repetitive opening riffs.

Anberlin’s high speed performance continued with tracks like “We Owe This to Ourselves” and “Someone Anyone,” after which Christian and company, pleased with the crowd response they were now generating, were all smiles onstage. Addressing the New York City audience, he begged them to “make this show the best one on the tour and one that [they’d] remember for the rest of [their] lives.” The raucous Manhattanites seemed all too happy to oblige, turning even the band’s slowest tune- “I’d Like to Die”- into an anthem for jumping around maniacally.

As the show continued, time and again Christian would go out of his way to acknowledge and slap hands with any crowd surfers who successfully managed to eclipse the barricade into the arms of the security guards up front- the truly most avid members of the Anberlin faithful. Following a particularly rousing performance of the kickdrum fueled “Impossible,” Christian once again addressed the audience- “This is one of the funnest shows I’ve ever played,” said the vocalist, knowing just the right words to further amp up the surprisingly lively crowd. “You guys get a bad rap for being one of those cities where everybody just stands there and watches, but you guys are incredible.” The show reached its finest moment during the familiar “Feel Good Drag,” when after almost the entire standing room floor was jumping in rock induced unison, Christian allowed the fans to take a full verse of his vocals on their own. Their eagerness to oblige was no secret as they refused to relent even after his performance resumed.

Despite the specter of a ‘Christian rock’ label which unfairly looms over Anberlin, we’d suggest you checking out the talents they exude in a live setting before placing any judgment on any genre which they may or may not fall into. There was no preaching on this night and certainly no soapbox- just a genuinely contented collection of rock musicians performing live in the Big Apple, before a collection of their rowdy fans. And they did so marvelously.

- Jane Van Arsdale

Anberlin – Irving Plaza, New York, NY
March 20th, 2013

1. The Resistance
2. Paperthin Hymn
3. We Owe This to Ourselves
4. Someone Anyone
5. Never Take Friendship Personal
6. Little Tyrants
7.Other Side
8. I’d Like to Die
9. The Unwinding Cable Car
10. Impossible
11. Modern Age
12. Reclusion
13. Feel Good Drag
15. Self-Starter
16. (*Fin)

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(5) Readers Comments

  1. Awesome article and Review! From what was described, I wish Orlando had a better crowd. Apparently New York is where its at if you want to hold an Anberlin Concert.

  2. I’ve seen Anberlin play in several different states, including the Vital tour – This review accurately describes every crowd.

  3. Saw them in Seattle on the Vital tour and have to say they are awesome live. I cannot believe the reviewer didn’t mention the final song on the setlist *Fin. So powerful! Great read though! Keep up the good work.

  4. Well done,a inspriation to the many talents/concerts sourounding our city

  5. I was at this show, awesome performance, great review!