Live review: Cellar Darling at De Helling, Utrecht, The Netherlands, April 2nd, 2019

In 2017 I saw Cellar Darling, the new Swiss band of former Eluveitie members Anna Murphy, Ivo Henzi and Merlin Sutter. Back then they were, besides Serenity, opening for Delain in TivoliVredenburg’s Ronda-venue in Utrecht. At that time they only existed for quite a short time and they had only released their debut album, titled This is the Sound. However, Cellar Darling immediately impressed. You can read our live review of that show here.

On March the 22nd Cellar Darling released the successor of This is the Sound. This album is titled The Spell and it sounds phenomenal. In support of The Spell Cellar Darling played a UK tour straight after the release date of The Spell. To close off that tour Anna, Ivo and Merlin, together with a live bass player, played one show that took place in the Dutch city of Utrecht. This time it wasn’t in TivoliVredenburg, but in a venue called De Helling in another part of Utrecht. This time it is a smaller venue, but Cellar Darling definitely is today’s headliner.

Not only is Cellar Darling headlining the show, they also are the only band onstage. This is something that results in quite some people in the venue only waiting for one band: Cellar Darling. Some of them being die-hard fans in Cellar Darling t-shirts singing along with a lot of the lyrics, but there also are curious people attending looking forward to the show, after checking some of their songs at home. At half past eight, fifteen minutes after the planned start according to the venue’s website, Cellar Darling enters the stage.

The first two songs unfortunately aren’t going as planned, since there are quite a lot of technical problems with Merlin’s drum kit during those songs. Because of this Anna kind of feels obligated to talk to the audience while the problems hopefully get solved, of course something that is first expected from the front woman. She says that she don’t like doing that so much and that it’s something she isn’t used to that much, due to Cellar Darling’s regular way of playing music at a show without talking that much. However, she fills the time quite well. The fact the show’s start is quite rough and distorted isn’t something the audience seems to see as that big of a problem, because after all Cellar Darling is on the stage and problems are there to be solved. A few moments later, the problems indeed are solved and Cellar Darling is able to continue with their show, from now on without unwanted interruptions. After one song a few people seem to think that now Anna has technical problems, but it soon is clear that there’s nothing to be scared of, because she was just getting her flute. There were some moments that the bass was a bit too loud during the remainder of the show, but besides that the problems were over.

Drummer Merlin also stands out in a positive way. He puts a lot of energy in his drumming. He really drums like a beast and his drums do have quite an intense sound, something that fits perfectly in tonight’s show. His drums sometimes sound almost ritualistic, at other moments very pounding and fast, while it can also be pretty complex and proggy.

Guitarist Ivo is a bit less extreme in terms of standing out during the show, mostly due to his very calm appearance. This however doesn’t say anything about his riffs, because those are, besides one single moment, played very tight. He, as well as the other band members, didn’t let this moment affect their playing and they all continued to perform the song in a well-done way.

However, the one standing out mostly definitely is Anna and she carries the show very well. Her vocals are simply phenomenal. The highs she can reach with her voice are almost unreal and are causing goosebumps all the time. This of course is the case with many of their own songs, but this probably gets most clear during the first of their two songs played during the encore of the show, a fantastic cover of Queen’s The Prophet’s Song. However that isn’t all, because besides Anna’s fantastic voice, she also plays an instrument called hurdy-gurdy, on which she even performs a nice solo, and the already-mentioned flute, an instrument she can also play very well.

During this show Cellar Darling plays songs coming from their debut This is the Sound, such as Avalanche and Six Days, but they of course also play songs coming from The Spell, such as its title-track and Death to close off the show with the aforementioned encore that consisted of their cover of Queen’s The Prophet’s Song and Redemption.

This surely was a very nice headline-show by a very promising band!

Our interview with Cellar Darling will be online soon!

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